Combustible Celluloid
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With: Josh Radnor, Malin Akerman, Kate Mara, Michael Algieri, Zoe Kazan, Pablo Schreiber, Tony Hale, Peter Scanavino, Richard Jenkins
Written by: Josh Radnor
Directed by: Josh Radnor
MPAA Rating: R for language
Running Time: 100
Date: 01/20/2010

Happythankyoumoreplease (2011)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Take a Chance on Me

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After several years on the hit TV show "How I Met Your Mother," Josh Radnor makes his feature writing and directing debut with this New York indie dramedy, and he also plays a writer, Sam. The movie suggests that Sam is good with short stories, but not so good with novels, and that's how this movie is. It plays well in little bursts, with some sharp dialogue to make things sound good, but the overall storylines and emotional threads don't really go very deep or very far.

Sam (Josh Radnor) lives in New York (in an apartment most likely too big for what he makes in his job), and is best friends with Annie (Malin Akerman). Annie works in an office and has an unnamed disease that has robbed her of her hair. She also suffers the aftermath of a series of loser boyfriends. Sam tries to rescue a lost boy, Rasheen (Michael Algieri), on the subway and ends up babysitting him for several days. At the same time, he meets and hits it off with bartender/singer Mississippi (Kate Mara), who agrees to a crazy plan to move in with Sam for three days. Meanwhile, Sam's "cousin" Mary Catherine (Zoe Kazan) is having issues with her longtime boyfriend, Charlie (Pablo Schreiber), who wants to move to Los Angeles for a job opportunity. Will everyone find love and happiness?

The movie smacks of cheap shortcuts, such as the use of the foster child Rasheed, used for laughs rather than for responsibility, or like the unnamed disease that has robbed Annie of her hair. Whenever it has nothing to say, it resorts to a sensitive song by an ironic singer/songwriter. While the performances are fine, the characters are fairly shallow, and it seems as if their happy endings come too quickly and too easily; they could probably have used a lot more work.

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