- Street Date:
- June 21st, 2011
- Reviewed by:
- Steven Cohen
- Review Date: 1
- June 6th, 2011
- Movie Release Year:
- Starz/Anchor Bay
- 98 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Rated R
- Release Country
- United States
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Following in the footsteps of his fellow sitcom peer and possible doppelganger, Zack Braff, actor Josh Radnor has written and directed his own indie romantic dramedy. Titled 'Happythankyoumoreplease' this bittersweet examination of lonely young adults in the big city features some strong performances from its talented cast. Unfortunately, it's held back by an unrealistic and fairly pedestrian script, with a serviceable but far too familiar visual style.
The plot follows a down-on-his-luck writer named Sam (Josh Radnor) who notices a young boy who gets left alone on the subway. Sam befriends the child, and after finding out that he is being looked after by a potentially abusive foster care family, he decides to… keep him. Sure, he makes a half-hearted attempt to take him to the police first, but after the kid expresses his preference for hanging out with good old Ted Mosby, Sam decides to forgo conventional wisdom, common sense, and the laws of the state of New York, to instead just let the kid crash on his couch for a while. Joining this indie 'Big Daddy' premise are several other subplots which focus on Sam's collection of similarly lost and disillusioned friends, including Annie (Malin Akerman), an attractive but relationship deficient woman with alopecia, and the dating pair of Mary-Catherine (Zoe Kazan) and Charlie (Pablo Schreiber) who must decide whether to take their coupling to the next level or go their separate ways. The wonderful Kate Mara also joins the proceedings as Mississippi, Sam's potential love interest.
The main problem with the film is the script. Chock-full of independent cinema clichés, sometimes laughable, implausible decisions, and disappointingly stilted dialogue, the characters just sort of meander through ninety odd minutes of mostly unengaging material. Though the story strives to be honest and meaningful, it just can't rise above its inherent shortcomings. This is no more evident than in Sam's relationship with Rasheen, the child he... well kidnaps. While there are sweet elements to their friendship, the whole adult who has commitment issues and learns more about being a real man through a kid plot point is fairly unoriginal, and their pairing is actually pretty underdeveloped and ultimately rather pointless. The other subplots feature similar issues and mostly fail due to some unnatural dialogue and rather conventional plotting. Thankfully, there are a few scenes that do indeed work, but the disparate elements never come together as a whole, causing a disconnect between the characters and the audience.
From a directorial standpoint, in his filmmaking debut, Radnor does a decent enough job. His main strength here seems to be working with actors, and he manages to get some pretty good performances out of the majority of the cast (which also includes a nice turn from Tony Hale). Oddly though, Radnor himself is one of the weaker links in this regard, and he has little chemistry with the rest of the performers including his child co-star. Visually, the movie is serviceable, though it essentially resembles every other indie dramedy made in the last few years. You know the type, with lots of shots of lonely but beautiful young adults walking around New York City or having long conversations in dimly lit bars and cramped apartments. Don't get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach, and it does suit the story well, but a bit more creativity could have helped elevate the material.
Going along with the standard plotting and look, the movie also features the now requisite original soundtrack written by an up and coming New York musician (in this case an artist calling herself Jaymay). The music is certainly not bad (some of it is even stuck in my head), but the film's frequent reliance on montages set to certain tracks is a fairly uninspired and clearly manipulative attempt to bolster emotions that the actual story can't elicit.
While there are certain aspects worthy of admiration, and the filmmakers seem to have put some genuine heart and soul into their work, 'Happythankyoumoreplease' is unfortunately pretty bland and unimaginative. No amount of indie music montages can hide the rather trite and sometimes amateur writing, and there is nothing that sets the film apart from the countless other similar efforts that flood festival screens every year. Still, one does get the sense that there was a legitimate attempt at actual substance and emotion here, and in that regard, though mostly unsuccessful, Radnor does deserve some credit.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Happythankyoumoreplease' is brought to Blu-ray by Anchor Bay Entertainment in a Region A BD-25 single layer disc housed in a standard case. Some skippable trailers play at disc start-up before transitioning to a standard motion menu with clips and music from the film.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
'Happythankyoumoreplease' is presented with a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Shot in HD using the Red One camera, the video here has its moments, but is disappointingly unimpressive.
Though recorded digitally, there is thankfully little unwanted noise, and the presentation is mostly pristine. Detail is good but sometimes a bit soft. Contrast is quite strong, and the film's style favors overexposed whites. Colors are also nice with a pleasing level of vibrancy. Scenes taking place outdoors during the day are especially striking, and are the main instances in which the transfer pops with nice depth and detail.
Unfortunately, the main issue with the video is its black levels. Blacks are frequently elevated and often tinged slightly blue. A good example of this comes in the scene where Sam and Mississippi write up their contract in Sam's bedroom, though essentially any dimly lit or nighttime sequence strongly exhibits this same weakness. This all leads to an occasionally washed out and displeasing appearance. Strangely, the included trailer for the film does not exhibit this issue, and instead features nice, deep black levels. Also, certain sequences feature some unnatural fleshtones, especially the scene in which Sam and Mississippi first kiss. Both of the characters look slightly jaundiced here, though thankfully most of the picture has a more natural image.
Though never terrible, the video here does take a hit due to its elevated blacks.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Provided with an English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track along with English SDH and Spanish subtitles, the audio here is pretty basic but not completely without merit.
The movie is fairly low budget and dialogue driven, so it should be no surprise that this isn't a sonic explosion of Blu-ray goodness. With that in mind, the dialogue is thankfully nice and clean. Directionality and surround use are pretty sparse, though there are a few ambient crowd effects used in some of the party, bar, and outdoor scenes, that add a very subtle level of immersion. The film's indie soundtrack also fills the soundstage nicely. Dynamic range and bass are pretty flatlined (with the exception of some of the music), though that is to be expected from a film of this type. Balance is well handled, with emphasis again on speech.
The audio gets the job done with a few moments of subtle immersion but not much else. The track fits the movie just fine but a little more imagination in the sound design certainly couldn’t have hurt.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
- Audio Commentary with Producer/Writer/Director/Actor Josh Radnor and Producer Jesse Hara - This is a pretty standard commentary track that mostly features Radnor and Hara complimenting the cast, discussing performance choices, pointing out songs used and locations featured, touching upon scenes that didn't make the final cut, and gushing over how pretty Kate Mara is. The two bounce off each other well enough, and Radnor candidly reveals several instances in which he took stories told to him by people he knows and threw them into the script. If you're a fan of the movie, this is certainly worth a listen, but those that weren't won over by the film's charms certainly won't be convinced otherwise.
- Happythankyoumoremusicplease - Featuring Jaymay (HD, 7 min) - Presented in 1080p with Dolby Digital stereo sound and no subtitle options, the film's indie soundtrack is the focus here. Interviews with the filmmakers and singer/songwriter Jaymay, who provided most the music for the movie, are included. The musician talks about getting involved with the production as well as her process and Radnor discusses why he felt the music connected so well with the story and certain scenes. There isn't a whole lot to be gained from this, but it still might be worth a look for fans.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 9 min) - Five deleted scenes are included together in 1080p with Dolby Digital stereo sound and no subtitle options. There is some good material here featuring more insight into Annie, fighting between Mary-Catherine and Charlie, and even a violent side to Rasheen, but it's easy to see why it was cut, as much of it would have dragged down the pace.
- Trailer (HD) - The film's trailer is included here in 1080p. As noted earlier, the video for the trailer demonstrates better black levels than the actual feature presentation (though it has its own problems with some visible noise and even more blown out contrast).
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
There are no HD exclusives.
Josh Radnor's directorial debut 'Happythankyoumoreplease' is mostly a misfire, but at least it’s a heartfelt attempt at something of substance, which is much more than can be said about many other contemporary releases. The video transfer leaves a bit to be desired but the audio is respectable. Supplements are unimpressive but still worth a look. Even with its faults, this might be worth a rental.
- BD-25 Single-Layer Disc
- Region A
- 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
- English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
- English SDH, Spanish
- Audio commentary with the director and producer
- Happythankyoumoremusicplease featurette
- Deleted scenes
- Theatrical trailer
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