Ah, New York, the place where thinking people cannot perform any basic function unless they talk about it first. I wonder: Did Woody Allen create this genre, or did he just reflect everyday happenings of his beloved Big Apple? Whatever, his legacy lives on here in this ensemble comedy that tells of the lives and loves of three friends and the choices they make as they approach thirty.
The central figure of Happythankyoumoreplease is its writer, director and star Josh Radnor of TV’s How I Met Your Mother. He has ventured out in from the gogglebox in a similar way as Josh Braff tried a few years ago with Garden State, also an indie romantic comedy of sorts. Radnor plays Sam, a relationship wary, late twenties writer who can’t seem to get his novel, ‘The Other Great Thing about Vinyl’ published. On his way to yet another rejection meeting Sam spots a young black kid get detached from his family on the subway, and leaps in to help. Turns out the kid was bounced around from foster home to foster home and no one seems to care for him. Sam ends up looking after him, taking him home and not telling the authorities. This is a worrying element, but you will have to overlook your concerns — don’t fret, nothing ugly happens; Sam is genuinely trying to help — if you are to buy into Sam as our hero. Besides, having a little kid with him makes a great ice-breaker when discovering an attractive waitress (Kate Mara).
Sam’s friend Annie suffers from alopecia (Malin Akerman, shaving her eyebrows for the part) and a lack of self-worth because of it. During one of her many confessionals she tells Sam that her only talent in life is attracting twenty-nine year old twelve-year olds and, judging by her last ex, she has a point. There’s a man at her office, though, who hangs around her. The polar opposite of the type she goes for, she finds his attentions unwelcome, but he is persistent. Finally, there is Mary Catherine, a proud New Yorker whose boyfriend Charlie dreams of relocating to Los Angeles. She does not want to go — East Coast vs. West Coast affiliation is not strictly the preserve of the rap fraternity — but does not want to be the person that ends Charlie’s dream. She has another complication, too . . .
I get a little tired of multi-strand stories when I have to spend the first thirty minutes figuring out which pieces fit where. That does not happen in Happythankyoumoreplease; we know practically from the get-go that these three are friends, and so our time is more wisely spent observing them talk about what they should or shouldn’t do. The main thread revolves around Sam, and is initially charming. He has some growing up to do; for instance, taking a child home and not to the authorities (nobly intentioned as it may be) is not the smartest thing to do. Holding on to that kid for three or four days further exacerbates the error. Nonetheless, we see what the authorities do not. The pair bond, and give us some cute moments. Sam’s first date with the waitress, too, is a lot of fun as the pair wittily exchange pleasantries before agreeing to live together for three days — one-night stands being so passé, and all. Gradually, however, we realize that this is just a simple three-part traditional rom-com story.
The problem is, though, that Sam’s story is probably the only one of the three strands that holds any interest at all. Annie’s adventures take up less screen time, and are not worthy of much attention, and Mary Catherine’s is little more than filler. You’ll find yourself itching to get back to Sam, the kid and the waitress, and the cutesy-folksy oh-so-indie soundtrack music as provided by New York singer-songwriter Jaymay.
Happythankyoumoreplease is a nice, sweet, disposable indie that won’t linger long in the memory, but is still an enjoyable enough date movie. For lovers of Woody Allen’s Annie Hall period it will be manna from heaven, but for the rest of us it will simply be an ensemble comedy that has a few smiles, but precious few laughs.