Reviewed by: Nick Da Costa

Happythankyoumoreplease is one of those titles crying out for bad punnery. That smug, ‘Yes, I got it, but where’s the rest’ dig at this mantra mouthful, highlighting a story’s shortcomings in the process. Unfortunately, that’s exactly the issue with Josh Radnor‘s triple threat ensemble film that seeks to find the one last vein in the New York quirk-com canon and almost ODs as a result.

This is a movie in serious need of pruning. Dump out the horribly leaden storyline of young couple Mary Catherine (Zoe Kazan, cute but boring) and Charlie (Pablo Schreiber, just boring) struggling with the potentially disastrous decision to move to LA, and you’ve got a far better movie. Not a lot of story you might think, but the relationship back-and-forth between struggling writer Sam (Josh Radnor) and his pal, Alopecia Girl Annie, and potential sweetheart, singer Mississippi, approximates to something I like to call Meandercore.

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It’s the kind of film that skates cutely and competently around the same points, the same panic. Throwing in that irritating third thread just to bump up the runtime and ensure each ‘revelation’ is in the mouth of the right character, at the right time, to ‘nail’ that climax. It’s safe filmmaking. It gives the director some instruction with the camera, but doesn’t expect too much. It gives the writer a cute line or two, but they’re not going to be wringing their hands and yanking their hair for an epiphany. It gives the actors a little something to chew on without alienating an easy audience. And yes, there’s still a huge audience for this kind of fluff. It's a shame because at the heart of the movie you’ve got a very engaging lead with a finely-tuned wit.

Radnor might be one part of the awful How I Met Your Mother, a criminally unfunny Friends clone, but here he turns the slightest one-liner and familiar observation into comedy gold. He even takes the patently absurd incident of looking after a kid separated from his foster parents on the subway, skips you through several conversations that would, by rights, have lead to his immediate arrest, and not only sells the story, but flips it from cloying sentimentality to a touching tale of accepting responsibility and finally committing to love.

It’s not deep, but it’s well-told. If you’re expecting Woody Allen then accept it without the self-flagellation. In these overly-medicated times, this is the perfect over the counter analgesic. It’s both unnecessarily whimsical - the relationship contract, alopecia as psychological shorthand - and charming - the kid mimicking Sam’s indolent gait. An exploration of what the newbie can do, both amateurish and adept. But most of all it is very well acted. So enjoy the start of Radnor’s ascendancy, enjoy the dash of Julia Roberts in Kate Mara’s charming performance, and wonder why a bubbly Malin Ackerman has stumbled off the set of a THX 1138 remake.

Reviewed on: 30 Jan 2010
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A mumblecore romcom following a group of friends struggling with their relationships.
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Director: Josh Radnor

Writer: Josh Radnor

Starring: Malin Akerman, Josh Radnor, Kate Mara, Zoe Kazan, Tony Hale, Pablo Schreiber, Michael Algieri

Year: 2010

Runtime: 100 minutes

Country: US

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