I recently moved back to New York after being gone for most of the year. In the time that I was gone, bed bugs decided to invade the city. Last summer they were everywhere. Now maybe they are still everywhere but people aren’t talking about them as much. I think they are pretending that the situation got taken care of. They are pulling a bit of an Anne Hathaway at the end of the Oscars this year. “Everything is fine. It’s FINE.”
What people have seemed to stop doing is going to the movies. I keep asking people to go with me and they refuse. They’ve conceded the entire cinematic experience to the bedbugs; that appears to be the compromise. I didn’t really understand where they were coming from until I went to the movies last week and saw a film that was so not getting bedbugs over that I finally got it. That film was called: happythankyoumoreplease. I don’t know if I’m supposed to capitalize the first word in a title like that.
happythankyoumoreplease was written and directed by Josh Radnor, one of the stars of “How I Met Your Mother.” It turns out there is more than one way for a star of a CBS sitcom to produce a trainwreck.
Radnor plays Sam Wexlor, aspiring novelist. In the beginning of the movie, he is about to meet with a very important publisher. Problem is, he finds a little African American boy, Rasheen, on the subway on the way to the meeting. He has no choice to take him along and keep him. They walk along the streets of New York high fiving. They pass a bar and see a red-headed girl and decide to go in and flirt with her. Her name is Mississippi. She’s a lounge singer. Sam takes Rasheen home and shows him the couch is. That’s where Rasheen lives now. They go to Sam’s best friend’s house for a party. It turns out she has Alopecia. You know this because it is an Alopecia Awareness themed party. She wants to talk to all her friends who she has known for years about why she doesn’t have any eyebrows and wears scarves on her head everyday. Rasheen eats some cookies. Zoe Kazan wanders in. In the movie she’s dating the Ziggy’s cousin from Season Two of the Wire. In real life, she’s dating Paul Dano. At this point I began to get distracted by the fact that Zoe Kazan and Paul Dano have strikingly similar shaped heads.
Sam goes on a date with Mississippi. He makes her sign a contract so she will sleep with him. Rasheen turns out to be an art prodigy. Buster from Arrested Development has a crush on the Alopecia suffering best friend but she’s she thinks she’s bald enough for the both of them and tries to let him down gently. Zoe Kazan goes to see a Woody Allen movie with her boyfriend. Then she gets pregnant and at first she’s sad, but then she’s psyched. Buster talks the best friend into loving him. Sam talks Mississippi into loving him. Rasheen tells Sam he’s his best friend but then Sam accidentally returns him to the child welfare office.
I feel like I would’ve gone easier on this film if it weren’t for what Josh Radnor wrote on the Huffington Post, explaining why you are essentially wrong if you didn’t like his movie:
“At Sundance, where the movie premiered in 2010, one journalist asked me, given that the theme of the festival that year was ‘revolution,’ what was revolutionary about my ‘feel-good, crowd pleasing movie.’ What his question revealed, I think, was the strange bias that many critics and cultural tastemakers share when it comes to optimism in film:. In other words, feel-good movies are less sophisticated than feel-bad movies.
My response to his question was that given the cynicism in which much of indie film traffics, the movie is revolutionary in that it’s about love and gratitude. No matter how dark things may get in a story, I feel it’s the responsibility of the storyteller to leave the audience with at least a shred of hope.”
Radnor then goes on to cite, you know, Jonathan Franzen an example of a fellow writer who inspires this kind of hope. And then he throws in a David Foster Wallace quote. Neither of which I’m pretty sure is even allowed.