By Matt Pais
RedEye movie critic
11:23 AM CST, March 9, 2011
**1/2 (out of four)
Bummed that he can’t sell his novel, almost 30-year-old short-story-writer Sam (writer-director Josh Radnor of “How I Met Your Mother”) temporarily adopts Rasheen (Michael Algieri), a young boy (and cheap script device) from an unhappy foster home who gets lost on the subway. That’s only the beginning of the emotional pile-up: Sam romances a waitress/singer who goes by the name Mississippi (Kate Mara); Sam’s best friend Annie (Malin Ackerman) confronts alopecia and a bald suitor (Tony Hale); and Sam’s old pal, Mary-Catherine (Zoe Kazan), suspects her boyfriend (Pablo Schreiber) wants to move from New York to L.A.
The buzz: Where have we heard this before: The star of a popular TV comedy makes his first movie, in which he also stars, set to moody indie rock and focused on misguided folks in their late 20s trying to, at long last, grow up? Please, Josh Radnor, don’t turn into Zach Braff (“Garden State”).
The verdict: Radnor has a knack for dialogue. Sometimes. Other times he gets lost in his own navel-gazing, struggling to find his way in a mostly earnest, occasionally ironic film about people lacking direction, ambition and, for the most part, anything actually standing in their way. Radnor’s characters are heavily self-interested, which is perhaps a fair representation of people constantly processing their lives until they get anything figured out. Yet “Happythankyoumoreplease,” which contains a lot more talk than action, reflects a romantic/shallow view of happiness and clarity (just have it!) muddled by a refusal to really chip away at situations that neither click separately or as a unit. In other words, it’s your typical first movie from a potentially promising filmmaker: Not bad but not quite there.
Did you know? To make Rasheen sleep, Sam puts on Leonard Cohen and the kid’s out immediately. Insult to the legendary singer or, you know, a good idea?
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