(gb) wrote: It's difficult to write a review of Happythankyoumoreplease without talking about How I Met Your Mother. I'll try my hardest but it's going to be an uphill battle. This is the debut attempt at feature filmmaking for How I Met Your Mother star (see, I told you) Josh Radnor. In fact, apart from an appearance in Not Another Teen Movie (which we shall never mention again), he has mostly been confined to TV shows. So it's a pretty huge jump out of a comfort zone to be writing, directing and starring in your own debut film. This jump-into-the-deep-end plan could have easily turned out very badly for the newbie, but instead Radnor showcases a keen eye for directing, a great flair for writing and, most importantly, an impressive performance as leading man Sam Wexler.When Sam is running late for a business meeting and notices a kid get separated from his family, he tries to help out. A good intention turns into a big complication, however, when the kid doesn't want to leave. At the same time, Sam's friend Annie is plagued by both alopecia and a guy at work who just won't leave her alone. Couple Charlie and Mary Catherine are experiencing some relationship problems and, to top it all off, Sam's affections are taken by cabaret singer Mississippi. Yes, that's her name.This conglomerate of drama could easily be turned into a complete and utter mess with the wrong script, the wrong director, the wrong actor. Which makes it even tougher when they're all the same guy. Garden State, Zach Braff's debut of the same nature, was a good deal less complicated in terms of storyline and uncluttered in terms of character. And it worked. Braff's main character, Andrew, was the main source of character development for the piece, despite the characters created around him. And it worked. Here, however, Radnor has the difficult task of my not one but five complete characters, each of which needs backstory, nuance and life. And I don't know where he found the time or the talent, but gosh darn it if he hasn't gone and done that very thing. That's not to say this film isn't without its flaws, no sir. But for a big ol' slice of indie heart, this is all you could want and more.Radnor's performance is just one of the great performances you can find here. Kate Mara's Mississippi (once again, yes that's her name) is bold, likeable and beautifully textured with a great chemistry between her and Radnor. Her fragility is beautifully displayed too, without painting her as the injured weakling which so many fiilms can condescend to assume about their female characters. Instead, she gives her character a quite strength which isn't blatant to begin with but manifests itself throughout. Malin Akerman's Annie is slightly less convincing. While she shows all the external dedication of being consumed by a role, going bald for her alopecia suffering character, she isn't as convincing as many of the rest of the cast are. She has her moments, however, the foremost of which being her excruciating dinner with Sam #2 as she tries to break-up without ruining her makeup, but if you want to see her acting highlights as yet, check out Watchmen. Not so for Tony Hale. Fans of Arrested Development, as I've already professed myself to be, will remember him best for his part momma's boy part mental patient performance as Buster Bluth. He's also starred alongside Matt Damon in The Informant but this is his best performance to date. Intricate and nuanced, his screen time shouldn't allow for the amount of reality and humanity he pours into his character, but he manages to come off as the most real of the bunch. Buster the actor. Who knew? Zoe Kazan's Mary Catherine is delightfully fiery and unpredictable as well as having the capacity for heartbreak and panic in later scenes. Her onscreen partner Pablo Schreiber doesn't fare as well, though he makes the most of some of his more comedic moments. But he is outstripped consistently through the emotional scenes by Kazan who shows an effortless realism throughout. And then there's our leading man. It might be difficult to shrug that onscreen persona from other work when working on a new character (as hundreds of child actors can testify) but Josh Radnor doesn't seem to notice as he inhabits his newest character. The temptation may have been to craft a character as different as possible from Ted Mosby, but Sam has welcome touches of the How I Met Your Mother (sorry) lead while being a completely different person altogether. He's much more of an asshole than Ted is pretty much what I'm trying to say, and Radnor plays on this perfectly, understanding that we don't always have to like our main character all the time. He doesn't overplay his part at all, showing a well-crafted restraint which makes his more emotional scenes that much more believable and hard hitting.Radnor's script is great as well. Though there is the occassional line that falls flat or doesn't quite hit home, for the most part it's a beautiful blend of humour and emotion. Radnor showcases a great talent for understanding character as well, making his main characters well rounded people rather than stereotypes. Even Rasheen, the kid, who could have easily become an object rather than an actual person, has a backstory and real character. The communication between Sam and Mississippi (stop laughing) is well-crafted, though occassionally feeling contrived. The strength of the acting helps to cover this up, however, and their relationship is as real as onscreen can get. The script's major flaw is its message, more specifically the fact that it tries to have one. The 'thank you more please' hocus pocus is the film's major downfall, but if you can overlook it then you've got yourself one hell of an indie drama.The direction is, for the most part, fantastic. Occassionally shots become too space invading and uncomfortable to watch, but Radnor makes inventive use of the sometimes cramped conditions. It looks a lot like an indie film which means a conspicuous lack of Hollywood glitz and glamour, but many of the scenes look amazing, especially with the depth of field used, reminiscent of The Social Network.If this film is any indication of his future work, I for one can't wait to see what Josh Radnor's next project is. His gift for writing and acting make him the sort of multi-talented bastard we can all hate to love.Defining Scene:Sam #2 and Annie's second date.