'Happythankyoumoreplease'

Pic gives new meaning to self-indulgence and self-infatuation.

Like a sitcom, but without the burning narrative urgency, “Happythankyoumoreplease” is the epitome of “indie,” and not in a good way. A multi-character dramedy about delicate, gifted young urbanites, capable of sparkling repartee but unable to go on a date without assuming a figurative fetal position, the pic gives new meaning to self-indulgence and self-infatuation, all to the lonesome-train-whistle-evoking songs of a sensitive but never less-than-ironic alternative singer-songwriter. Given the presence of Josh Radnor (“How I Met Your Mother”), it will likely draw some niche biz, mostly from the kinds of auds drawn to Broadway theater to see TV stars.

Radnor plays Sam, an aspiring novelist in an imaginary place called New York where the print medium is still something young people aspire to, when they’re not trying to extricate themselves from troublesome one-night stands (which is how we meet Sam). Late to a meeting with a publisher (a cameo by Richard Jenkins), he watches as a young boy (Michael Algieri) is abandoned on a subway train, and then virtually adopts the kid, named Rasheen, opening himself up to charges of kidnapping and child endangerment but providing himself with a comic foil for the rest of the movie. The tradeoff must have seemed worth it

Meanwhile, Mary Catherine (Zoe Kazan) and her boyfriend Charlie (Pablo Schreiber) are having a crisis (what a surprise) about which coast to live on; Charlie has a possible business deal brewing in Los Angeles, which Mary Catherine views as a soul-crushing hellhole. Audiences will be taking sides depending on what coast they don’t live on.

Meanwhile, Sam’s best friend, Annie (Malin Akerman, giving a real performance) is in what seems to be a perpetual state of discontent about work, love and the condition (alopecia) that has deprived her of body hair. Her head wrapped in color scarves and self-defeating ideas, she’s being wooed at work by the too-nice-for-words Sam No. 2 (Tony Hale) and in her bedroom by the rather useless Ira (Peter Scanavino), whom Annie, defying every law of God and man, finds irresistible.

Meanwhile, Sam has taken a shine to Mississippi (Kate Mara), a bartender who wants to be cabaret singer (another cultural throwback, which may indicate how long Radnor’s script has been in development). Mississippi says yes when Sam asks her to move in with him for three days, thus avoiding the one-night stand phenomenon but giving her every reason to wonder why there’s a mixed-race 8-year-old sleeping on the couch. Luckily for the plot flow, as it were, she doesn’t ask early enough to send “Happythankyoumoreplease” (a convolution derived from a conversation Annie once had with an Indian cab driver) off its designated track.

With the exception of Akerman’s Annie, the characters are uniformly annoying, their stories insubstantial and the tone one of smug contentment. Production values are grade-A.

Happythankyoumoreplease

Production

A Paper Street Films presentation. Produced by Jesse Hara, Austin Stark. Chris Papavasiliou, Benji Kohn. Executive producers, Bingo Gubelmann, Peter Sterling, Glenn Williamson. Directed, written by Josh Radnor.

Crew

Camera (color), Seamus Tierney; editor, Michael R. Miller; music, Jaymay; music supervisor, Andy Gowen; production designer, Jade Healy; art director, Chris Trujillo; sound, Michael Sterkin; associate producer, Brian Schornak; assistant director, Michel Meador; casting, Jessica Kelly, Suzanne Smith. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 22, 2010. Running time: 100 MIN.

With

Annie - Malin Akerman Sam No. 2 - Tony Hale Mary Catherine - Zoe Kazan Mississippi - Kate Mara Sam Wexler - Josh Radnor Ira - Peter Scanavino Charlie - Pablo Schreiber Rasheen - Michael Algieri
With: Richard Jenkins.

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