Early on in the flawed Happythankyoumoreplease, Sam Wexler (Josh Radnor), the center around which the film spins, is informed that the novel he is desperate to get published is “just kind of, well kind of” meh and ironically it is also the most on-point review of the film. “Happythankyoumoreplease” was written and directed by the How I Met Your Mother star, which might explain the lack of real plot and the suspiciously enormous New York City apartments owned by artists with part-time jobs in this indie romantic comedy.
Radnor plays a struggling writer who accidentally kidnaps an eight-year-old black boy — Rasheen (Michael Algieri), who is left behind on a subway car — while rushing to have his dreams crushed by a publisher giant (cameo courtesy of Richard Jenkins). Sam decides to keep Rasheen around and care for him, which is apparently easy when you have no job, nor a book deal. His two closest friends are Annie (Malin Akerman), who suffers from alopecia, and Mary Catherine (Zoe Kazan), who is just insufferable; two women with seemingly nothing in common except their worrying over Sam. And in even further unbelievable plot developments, Sam finally gets the courage to talk up an attractive bartender, Mississippi (Kate Mara), while Rasheen is peacefully asleep on his couch, and to avoid the stigma of a one-night stand has Mississippi sign a contract “to move in” for the next three days.
Standard “Generation Lost” arguments are brought up and debated in “Happythankyoumoreplease,” like lack of life direction, the merits of marriage and what to do when you have a foster kid illegally living in your apartment, but nothing is ever settled. Even the ever popular Los Angeles vs New York debate, fought between Mary Catherine and her live-in boyfriend Charlie (Pablo Schreiber) when he has the opportunity to score a production deal on the West Coast and Mary Catherine is troubled as to how she could give up stocking art supplies for a living. But nothing – not the LA vs NY debate nor the fact that Sam seems fairly disconnected with reality – is resolved by the film’s end.
The pleasant surprise in “Happythankyoumoreplease” is the performance given by Malin Akerman. Generally relegated to the blonde bimbos and hot chick roles, Akerman delivers the only real performance among the bunch. She tackles both alopecia and scummy ex-boyfriends with a genuine grace and her budding relationship with Sam #2 (Tony Hale) is a wonderful look at a real-life courtship. Unfortunately, “Happythankyoumoreplease” isn’t able to succeed mainly because it’s jam-packed what could have been a fun tale of three friends dealing with the intrusion of adulthood with some oddball New York mini-version of The Blind Side.
Regardless, the film’s flippant attitude towards realism presents a film unique in which a happy ending for all of those involved can be achieved. The quality and look of the film is spot on and manages to showcase the real New York, even if the plot won’t. For a first effort, Radnor was able to stay on message, as he had wanted to create a whimsical happy-go-lucky flick, but let’s hope that the next time around he fights for more character and plot development instead of settling for a story and a film that, like Sam’s novel, isn’t quite there. [B-]