HollywoodChicago.com RSS   Facebook   HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter   Free Giveaway E-mail   

‘Happythankyoumoreplease’ Falls Flat With Unlikable Characters

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
Average: 4 (3 votes)
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Josh Radnor’s “Happythankyoumoreplease” wants to be a new-generation Woody Allen film but misses the mark wildly by presenting characters that aren’t likable in situations that aren’t believable. None of the relationships that drive this awkward dramedy ring true and only a few supporting performances make the effort worthwhile as they highlight the weaknesses at the core of the manipulative script.

Radnor, known for playing Ted on CBS’s “How I Met Your Mother,” wrote, directed, and stars in a piece so blatantly shooting for memories of “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan” that it features a character literally discussing the career of Woody Allen in case it wasn’t clear enough. Radnor plays Sam Wexler, a very-slight variation on his Ted character in that he’s a creative guy who can’t quite get his sh*t together romantically or professionally. The film opens with him waking up late for an important interview and taking in a foster kid that he thinks was abandoned on a subway train.

Photo credit: Hannover House

As Sam tries to figure out what to do with the charming urchin now attached to him, he crosses paths with the beautiful Mississippi (a movie-stealing Kate Mara) and the two decide to have a three-night stand instead of a one-night one. Can they overcome their bad dating patterns to stick together? What will Sam do with the foster kid he grows to love?

Meanwhile, “Happythankyoumoreplease” follows two other relationship tracks that are related to Sam’s. His good friend Annie (Malin Akerman) has been unlucky in love and finds herself practically stalked by a co-worker named Sam #2 (Tony Hale) who has clearly fallen head over heels for her. Sam’s cousin Mary Catherine (Zoe Kazan) has her own issues as her man Charlie (Pablo Schreiber) wants to move from NYC to Los Angeles, something that she desperately wants to avoid.

“Happythankyoumoreplease” suffers from several problems but none is more prominent than an unlikable lead. Radnor has tried to present Sam as an “average guy,” one who doesn’t need to be liked or hated by the audience, but he’s not a strong enough writer or actor for something that delicate. Sam needs to be likable. Instead, he comes off like someone who completely doesn’t deserve Mara’s delightful Mississippi. It’s impossible for a plot like theirs to work when the viewer is constantly thinking “she could do better.” And I hated how Radnor the writer reduced men and women to such basics as when Mississippi says she needs Sam to be nice and he says that he needs her to be naked. That’s the reductive, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” sitcom-level writing that sinks a piece like this by reducing the battle of the sexes to stereotypes.

Photo credit: Hannover House

As for the other two arcs, they’re just as difficult to care about. Tony Hale, cast against type, does the strongest work in the piece, especially in a late scene in which he gets a monologue that’s sure to melt a heart or two. He’s actually quite good and he and Mara nearly save the piece. The problem is that they’re supporting characters. When your supporting cast (Mara, Hale) is much-more-interesting than your leads (Radnor, Akerman), that’s a pretty serious problem. As for Kazan and Schreiber, I particularly like her in everything she’s done to date but their arc is woefully underdeveloped. I never cared.

And that’s the main problem with the film overall — lack of audience investment in the characters or their fates. The dialogue doesn’t ring true — an exchange in which Sam suggests that both he and his new girlfriend are a “mess” and they should clean each other up made me particularly nauseous — and the characters aren’t likable. No thanks.

“Happythankyoumoreplease” stars Josh Radnor, Kate Mara, Malin Akerman, Tony Hale, Zoe Kazan, and Pablo Schreiber. It was written and directed by Radnor. It is rated R and was released in Chicago on March 11th, 2011.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

Anonymous's picture

It was a great film.

It was a great film. Refreshing actually.
Enjoy it for what it is, and not what you wanted it to be.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Hot stories on the Web

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing


  • Drunk History Seasons 1 & 2, 2014

    CHICAGO – The awesomeness of history loses any of its stuffiness with the incredibly fun, indeed educational show “Drunk History” from Comedy Central, its two seasons now released on DVD. Hosted by its creator Derek Waters, the show is a celebration of various historic figures and their under-appreciated true tales, as expressed by funny people narrating in the universal language of inebriation; their recounts are then reenacted by famous actors working with their given dialogue, dressed with the comic cheapness of a bloated biopic.

  • Happy Christmas

    CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.


HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter


HollywoodChicago.com Top Ten Discussions