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HappyThankYouMorePlease


It may be cliché, but how we react to adversity has an influence on our personal growth and development. We are constantly facing new challenges that bring to light new traits, good or bad, about ourselves that we must embrace. As Sam Wexler (Josh Radnor) points out in HappyThankYouMorePlease, every five years or so we will look back at our actions and think about how much of an ass we were.

Grade:

Happy chronicles a rough patch in the lives of three friends and their significant others (or lack thereof). Sam is a struggling writer trying to make his breakthrough into novels. On his way to a meeting, he sees a boy separated from his foster family and decides to look after the kid until he figures out what to do with him.  His family friend, Mary Catherine (Zoe Kazan), is faced with the decision to move to Los Angeles with her boyfriend, until she gets some intimidating news. Meanwhile, Annie (Malin Akerman) is struggling to find her self-confidence due to her terrible choices in men and her alopecia.

The most important facet of Happy is its familiarity. None of these issues, apart from finding a child and alopecia, are very unique; every person will have a bad relationship, career failure, or tough life decision. This makes each character much easier to understand. There is no one in Happy that doesn’t mirror someone we know.

The layout of the film is fairly ingenious as well. There may be three storylines, but there is a clear ranking of importance (Sam, Annie, Mary Catherine) by the amount of time devoted to each. At times this can be overwhelming because there are such abrupt changes in story, but the sudden changes slow as the film (and each story) progresses. The soundtrack is used in a much more noticeable way than in other films. Whenever a significant event occurs that requires a time of reflection, a song will begin with lyrics expressing the character’s emotions. It is relatively clever, but slightly off-putting and brings you out of the film. Regardless, since the stories are not strong enough for their own films (especially since we’ve seen Sam’s in Big Daddy), the use of three storylines keeps the film moving at an acceptable pace with new interest sparked at each change.

For the most part, the performances are above average. Malin Akerman was tasked with balancing a strong character with slowly deteriorating confidence and fairs well. The clear winners are the Josh Radnor and Tony Hale (Sam #2, an awkward colleague of Annie, for whom he has fallen). It is extremely refreshing to see Radnor in a different role other than Ted Mosby (How I Met Your Mother), even though there are Ted moments (side note: I’m convinced Radnor refuses to wear anything but a t-shirt and a button down shirt open over it). Hale is by far the biggest surprise. Initially, he seems to just be reprising Buster Bluth (Arrested Development), but almost out of nowhere, brings a confidence and swagger that makes him the most likable character of the bunch. His role is minimal, but Hale finds a way to stand out.

HappyThankYouMorePlease is an indie film through and through. It has the feel of a film that a few friends put together on their own (it’s Radnor’s pet project; he directed and wrote it). The dialogue can get pretty corny at times and you wonder why some decisions are made, but then again, the same can be said of life. It’s all part of Happy’s relatable charm.

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