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Happythankyoumoreplease (2011)
Movie Reviews

Happythankyoumoreplease (2011)

A contrived, unpleasant, stupid relationship film in which the intertwining narratives manipulate the audience into submission.

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Happythankyoumoreplease is one of those contrived, unpleasant, stupid relationship films in which the intertwining narratives manipulate the audience into submission. They focus on issues that exist primarily in the movies, provide the characters with dialogue no actual person is likely to say, and establish scenarios that are nothing close to plausible. It was clearly intended to be inspiring, romantic, heartwarming, and perhaps even informative; it isn’t easy to make a movie be so many things at once, and when the stage is that crowded, the curtain unavoidably parts, revealing the machinery at work. The film is simply trying too hard. I honestly don’t know what’s worse: The film itself, or the belief that it was saying something important and would actually connect with anyone.

The setting is New York City. This is vital to one of the subplots, which involves the inevitable debate between living there and living in Los Angeles. Having lived in the latter my entire life, I can safely say that it really isn’t such a bad city – apart from the occasional earthquake, and I’ll be the first to admit that they’re absolutely no fun. But I’m getting off topic. At the center of the story is a struggling late twenty-something writer named Sam Wexler (Josh Radnor, who also serves as the film’s writer and director). On the subway ride to a meeting with a publisher (a cameo by Richard Jenkins), he sees a young boy get separated from his family. Sam takes the boy with him and tries but fails to get him back where he belongs. Sam is in a hurry, you see, so this will undoubtedly result in many scenes of the two being stuck together in awkward situations.

Sam eventually learns that the kid’s name is Rasheen (Michael Algieri). As it turns out, the people he got separated from were not his family members. He’s in foster care. What’s worse, he doesn’t know his birth date or even how old he is. Sam, saddled with a boy who looks around eight or nine, makes the first of many dread mistakes when passing a bar: Using Rasheem to impress a pretty bartender. He will also repeatedly leave the kid alone in his apartment, and isn’t it a remarkable act of faith that he isn’t able to search for an extra set of keys or unlock doors but rather remain asleep the whole time? This legally counts as kidnapping, and the film addresses this – but only in passing, since the real goal is to show a friendship developing between the two, strengthened by the fact that he can draw. All this time, I’m wondering why the foster parents never once got involved. They served their purpose simply by disappearing.

The bartender is Mississippi (Kate Mara), who actually is from the state of the same name and yet has completely lost the distinctive drawl. The two find each other very intriguing, and in due time draw up a contract for her to have a three-night stand with him, which, I guess, is some cute cinematic way to get them in bed together. She’s a cabaret singer. He refuses to watch her perform; his last relationship ended because the girl believed she could act when in fact she couldn’t. I’m admittedly not well versed in relationships, but everything I’m describing here reeks of an overdose of artistic license; I didn’t believe for one second that these two would ever fall in love, or even start dating, in this particular way.

Meanwhile, Sam’s best friend, Annie (Malin Åkerman), is trying to find a reason to be loved. I say this because she has Alopecia; this subplot is at great pains to show her as someone so convinced of her own worthlessness that she can only date highly immature men, like Ira (Peter Scanavino), a loser stereotype who plays in a band. She eventually begins a relationship with her office coworker, also named Sam, and is identified most flatteringly as Sam #2 (Tony Hale). He takes pictures of her as she works, approaches her when she’s not approachable, and initiates conversations when she’s clearly not willing to talk. The more of him I learned, the creepier he became. Honestly, who takes those kinds of pictures at work? The strange thing is, Annie finds she’s actually attracted to this man.

The most engaging subplot involves Mary Catherine (Zoe Kazan) and her boyfriend, Charlie (Pablo Schreiber), who has been offered a job out in Los Angeles. This causes great conflict; she believes Los Angeles is a phony, cultureless city that’s pulling him away from her. But he makes a good point: If New York is such a great cultural melting pot, then why doesn’t she ever go to a museum, or see a Broadway show, or eat at a Deli? This seemed to be going someplace – until Mary Catherine pulls out that most desperate of relationship trump cards, which decency prevents me from revealing. They, and every other character, show no trace of authenticity; they’re merely constructs of the plot, a way for Radnor to convey his message of going and getting yourself loved. I’ve seen mushy romantic comedies with more appealing and realistic notions of love than Happythankyoumoreplease. What a waste.

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Anchor Bay Films


About the Author: Chris Pandolfi