I’ve had the indie film happythankyoumoreplease, on my TBW pile since last year because I didn’t have much time to catch up, but yesterday while browsing through my files, I had a hankering to see How I Met Your Mother’s Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) in his directorial debut in a movie that he also wrote and starred in, and so I spent my lazy Sunday afternoon getting enthralled in this film, which incidentally won the audience award for favorite US drama in the Sundance Film Festival in 2010.
New Yorker Sam Wexley (Radnor), is a budding novelist who is trying to get published. He writes great short stories but he is informed by the publisher that they can’t use his novel because his hero lacks the qualities to make audiences root for him. Just like Sam, his hero is living his life on the fence. Sam thinks that its because of his lack of pain and suffering while growing up that’s the problem but then, he gets stuck with a little boy named Rasheen (Michael Algieri), whom he meets in the subway one day after the boy gets separated from his foster parent. As the child refuses to leave Sam’s side, he learns more about Rasheen’s hardships and develops an affinity for the boy. Meanwhile, Sam’s best friend Annie (Malin Akerman), an alopecia patient and “cousin” Mary Katherine (Zoe Kazan) deal with their own personal issues and learn to accept their own imperfections and their worthiness to be loved.
Straight off the bat, a story about a man looking for something missing in his life and a boy who has had his fair share of suffering despite his young age is nothing new. A kid idolizing his new friend, just as Rasheen does with Sam is similar to the premise of About a Boy and Big Daddy but the message and its interpretation through happythankyoumoreplease is really sweet and beautiful. Radnor deserves praise not only for directing this piece but also for writing it. The manner in which he crafted the dialogue for the characters, who are all dealing with their flaws is so realistic that they become so identifiable to the audience. Unlike his big screen counterpart Sam, Radnor was able to create characters in different stages of giving and accepting love, nearing the point of realization that all they really need to do is go out and grab the opportunity that life is presenting to them. Its the when and how that makes the film truly interesting because Radnor obviously invested a lot of thought in the process.
Radnor also had great chemistry with his young co star Michael Aligieri and the kid is just so adorable that viewers will immediately fall in love with him even before he even says a word. He just has a sort of vulnerability in his look that makes him relateable from the first moment he appears on the screen.
All in all, happythankyoumoreplease used a very indie approach to the movie (because it is, after all, an independent film) but unlike some indies, it did not set out to be profound and overarching to prove a point. It just set out to deliver a simple message — be happy, thank the universe and ask for more of the positive things. Its a simple formula, much like Eat, Pray, Love, but it makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? And that is the reason viewers will finish this film with a smile on their faces and a nice feeling in their hearts.