Sundance Review: Josh Radnor's HappyThankYouMorePlease
by Alex Billington
January 31, 2010
I love this movie. Maybe I'm just a sucker for romantic comedies with quirky characters and storylines that aren't the exact same as those we all-too-often see in Hollywood. Or maybe I'm a sucker for happy, funny romantic comedies (like 500 Days of Summer). I'm not sure, but I loved HappyThankYouMorePlease. The film just won the Audience Award at Sundance and I saw it for my second time earlier tonight. It's such a sweet, charming, wonderful movie that's so uplifting and and so fun to watch. It won the Audience Award for good reason - everyone loves this movie. And even after seeing it twice, it's still one of my favorites.
HappyThankYouMorePlease stars Josh Radnor as Sam, an up-and-coming novelist living in New York City who is struggling to sell his first manuscript. While riding the subway he sees a young kid get separated from his family and decides to take him in because he won't go home since he's uphappy with his foster care. Sam then meets and convinces a girl named Mississippi to say with him and begins to fall in love with her, but is struggling to make everything else in his life work. This is only the primary story in an ensemble storyline about two other couples as well: Sam's half-sister Mary Catherine (Zoe Kazan) and her boyfriend Charlie (Pablo Schreiber), and Sam's best friend Annie (Malin Akerman) and a new man she meets at her work.
I haven't seen "How I Met Your Mother", so my first introduction to Josh Radnor was fresh and I enjoyed him in this. Plus, knowing that he wrote, starred, and directed this, is even more reason to appreciate it. The writing is smart and full of joy, which is what I think I connected with the most. I especially love the pay off with the title (HappyThankYouMorePlease) involving a scene between Tony Hale and Malin Akerman. It's not just that the title is explained, it's that it pays off in such a great way that I'm sure no one will ever forget it after seeing this. That's just one of the many reasons why this movie on a whole is just so wonderful.
Beyond all that, the performances in the film were great, too, especially Radnor and his young counterpart, nine-year-old newcomer Michael Algieri. I was impressed by how much Radnor could convey just in facial expressions, without using words, which is ironic because his character is a writer. And even Malin Akerman does a pretty good job, which is impressive considering she's usually the weakest part her films. Kate Mara, who plays Mississippi, is also breathtakingly gorgeous in this and does a wonderful job in her role. If you're a sucker for good romantic comedies like I am, then be sure not to miss HappyThankYouMorePlease.
Alex's Sundance Rating: 9 out of 10