Friday, March 04, 2011

Josh Radnor Talks About 'happythankyoumoreplease'

Actor Josh Radnor is probably best known for his role as Ted Mosby on the hit CBS-TV series, How I Met Your Mother, but he is also a film director and screenwriter.

He may become as well known for those latter two jobs if his new film, happythankyoumoreplease, which goes into limited release in U.S. theatres today, becomes a hit.  Happythankyoumoreplease (read that as "happy thank you more please") marks Radnor's debut as a screenwriter and as a director; he also stars in the film as Sam Wexler, a harried New York novelist who takes an abandoned child into his home with resulting chaos and pathos.

The film's cast also includes Malin Akerman as Annie, Zoe Kazan as Mary-Catherine, Pablo Schreiber as Charlie, and Kata Mara as Mississippi, as well as Michael Algieri, in his big-screen debut, as Rasheen.  (There is also a cameo by Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins as Sam's potential publisher.)

Last November, Josh Radnor was the featured guest on the closing night of the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville.  He appeared on the stage of the historic Paramount Theatre after a screening of happythankyoumoreplease, fielding questions from the audience and from Glenn Williamson, a University of Virginia alumnus who served as executive producer of the film and moderator of the evening's discussion.

I was at the Paramount that night (November 7) and captured the entire exchange on video.  Here it is (also available on YouTube), in four parts.

Part I:

Part II:

Part III

Part IV:
My own assessment of happythankyoumoreplease? It's a pleasant film, good enough to rent through Netflix on a quiet evening at home, but not compelling enough to drive me to a theatre on a Saturday night. For a freshman effort, it's well-directed in an elementary manner -- Radnor admits in the Q&A above that he was not sufficiently confident in his own skills to write dialogue scenes that involved more than two characters at a time -- and a good product for a quick (23-day) shoot that often involved some guerrilla filming on the streets of New York.

As  Radnor put it in an interview with the film's publicist,
New York is the best and worst place in the world to shoot a movie – the best because you can’t beat the production design, the worst because the city doesn’t respond all that well to “quiet on the set.” (I started to get the feeling whenever we were shooting outside and called “action” Mayor Bloomberg said, “Cue the sirens.”) ... I very wisely surrounded myself with people who knew how to shoot a movie quickly in New York (I certainly didn’t know how to do it.) A lot of people try to tell you it can’t be done, that you’ve got to shoot in Toronto or Pittsburgh or somewhere. But they’re wrong. You can do it. If you get the right people on board.

Josh Radnor did win an audience award for his performance at the Sundance Film Festival, so I suspect the movie might have greater appeal than I'm willing to give it credit for.

According to Fandango, happythankyoumoreplease is not scheduled to screen in Charlottesville or near Washington, D.C., anytime soon, but it does open on March 4 at the Angelika Film Center on Houston Street in New York and at The Landmark on West Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles.

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