Saturday 27 November 2021

Movie Review: Happythankyoumoreplease (2010)

A three-in-one romantic comedy, Happythankyoumoreplease explores three couples as they navigate expectations, commitment, and settling down. The material is familiar, but delivered with edgy polish.

In New York City, Sam (Josh Radnor, also the film's writer and director) is a writer attempting to transition from short stories to novels. On the subway he helps young Black boy Rasheen, who seems to have lost his family. But the quiet Rasheen is an unhappy foster kid, and latches onto the kind Sam. The two start to forge a surrogate father-son bond, while three short story-style romances unfold.

Sam spots table server Mississippi (Kate Mara), an aspiring singer. They enjoy one date and he invites her to stay at his apartment for three days, but immediately regrets the offer, unsure if he is ready to commit. Meanwhile his friend Annie (Malin Ã…kerman), a charity fund raiser, suffers from hair loss (alopecia) and makes bad decisions when it comes to men. She is romantically pursued by tweedy lawyer Sam #2 (Tony Hale), who is not what she imagines to be her type - but he persists.

Sam's family friend Mary Catherine (Zoe Kazan) is in a relationship with boyfriend Charlie (Pablo Schreiber). He is interested in moving to Los Angeles for a business opportunity, but she wants to stay in New York. The disagreement strains their romance, especially when Mary Catherine suspects she may be pregnant.

It's difficult to find anything fresh or imaginative in Happythankyoumoreplease. But yet Radnor assembles a pleasing, if non-demanding, set of themes for his twentysomething protagonists to mull over. The inter-cut short story format helps with pacing and disguises the absence of profundity.

Unsurprisingly, the overarching topic is encroaching adulthood, accepting reality rather than pining for inaccessible dreams, and appreciating what is real. Sam may have to acknowledge he is a short story writer, and has to start confronting what commitment entails. Annie wants to change the world and seeks a handsome knight by her side to help her do it. Except that handsome knights can also be creeps, and sometimes the really sturdy men are hiding in boring business suits. Mary Catherine and Charlie are facing their first real crisis as a couple, where ambitions diverge and the hard work of communicating and compromising begins.

This is still a romantic comedy, and the outcomes steer to all the expected tidy places. The quiet child Rasheen is the one wrinkle, and Radnor uses him as a soft-spoken device representing the sometimes blurred line between responsibility and irresponsibility. Sam wants to do the right thing and is developing adult nurturing tendencies, but in caring for someone else's child without anyone's permission, he stumbles into a heap of trouble.

The cast members lean into the characters with just touches of drama, and allow the humour to seep out from natural behaviours rather than brash jokes. Happythankyoumoreplease is curious about growing up, undoubtedly common territory but here approached with happy restraint, thank you.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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