James Wallace

by: James Wallace
March 11th, 2011

Editor's note: This review was written on January 23rd at Sundance 2010.

Rating: 4/5

Writer/Director: Josh Radnor
Cast: Josh Radnor, Malin Ackerman, Zoe Kazan, Pablo Schreiber, Tony Hale, Kate Mara, Michael Algieri

HAPPYTHANKYOUMOREPLEASE (say that three times fast), a grounded Woody Allen-esque tale, centers around 5 inept youngsters in their late-twenties/early-thirties struggling in New York City. Struggling with how to make a living and struggling with how to make something out of their lives. Struggling with love and struggling to be loved. Struggling with the inevitable…becoming an adult, and all that entails.

There’s Mary Catherine (Zoe Kazan) and Charlie (Pablo Schreiber), long-time girlfriend and boyfriend reaching that “shit or get off the pot” moment in their relationship. Then there’s Annie (WATCHMEN's Malin Ackerman), a woman suffering from the disease Alopecia, as well as the old “I only date assholes” syndrome many women seem to have when the perfect guy is right there in front of her face (ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT'S Tony Hale).

And then there’s Sam (played by writer/director Josh Radnor, whose disheveled and clever portrayal of the character is the film’s best quality), a wannabe writer who is told he’s “the voice of our generation” but doesn’t have much to say. Looking to fill a void, Sam finds two people along his journey. One being a Southern belle appropriately called Mississippi, aka “Miss Fragile” (Kate Mara) who, after only knowing her for one day, Sam asks to move in to his place for a three day stint as an attempt to solve his love for one night stands and his hatred for commitment. Strange he should hate commitment, as the other person he picks up along the way (literally) and can't let go of is a young African-American boy named Rasheen (Michael Algieri) that he finds lost on the subway. Rasheen represents a chance for Sam do something good with his life, when he otherwise doesn’t have the opportunity. To right the supposed wrongs of his life by encouraging the boy to never quit being artistic. In a way, he’s trying to live vicariously through the boy. With the best intentions, that is. Too bad that, according to the law of the state of New York, it is technically kidnapping.

All are interconnected stories. All are seemingly “fucked up” individuals…or are they? We twenty-somethings are told that we are a generation of fuck-ups, almost to the point that it is an endearing or attractive quality for the do-nothing, commit-to-nothing hipster class. That it is a label or badge that defines you. Ironic that we define ourselves by not defining ourselves, isn’t it?

But it is seen as easier that way somehow. To not have to commit to anything that is. To move through life being ambiguous and unattached, pretending to not grow up. To never commit to love because it’s easier being alone than working at a relationship where the worst in you, that you constantly try to ignore, can be brought out. To never commit to marriage or having a baby, because it’s easier to pretend that you will always be a kid and will never be a parent, to never make mistakes or screw up your kids. To never really present your art to the world, because it’s easier to say you are a writer or painter or musician or filmmaker than actually be one.

Luckily, this isn’t one of those films. Because who needs another film that regurgitates and reinforces that bullshit? Instead, HAPPYTHANKYOUMOREPLEASE presents characters that have been formed and shaped out of these very social misconceptions, yet all actually reach the other side of the rainbow. The pot of gold being that it is okay to tell yourself that you deserve to be happy in whatever it is that makes you so.

Sure, it may all be wrapped up in a nice package with a fancy bow, and with a perfectly timed indie soundtrack, but that’s okay. It’s a positive stereotype to the negative stereotype of my generation. A positive stereotype that makes me happy, thankful and want more films like it…please.

Yeah...I went there.

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