Saturday, May 28, 2011

Manners vs. Manners: Please Give and Happythankyoumoreplease

On Saturday night, the world was supposed to end. Well, if it did at the time it was supposed to, I would have been mega-angry, because then I wouldn't have been able to finish watching Please Give (I would actually be dead...or whatever happens to you when the world ends). So anyway, as you probably know, the world didn't actually end, so I got to finish watching Please Give. After I finished watching that at about 11pm, I tried to get to sleep but I was scared that Harold Camping got the times wrong and the judgement day was near. And what do I do when I can't get to sleep? I usually toss and turn and throw pillows all around the room until my frustration makes me unconscious. But this night, as I waited for the judgement day, I watched Happythankyoumoreplease until 1am, like the little 'insomniac' I am.

Now I didn't intend to watch two movies on the same night that both have 'please', a word which I learned of when I watched Barney all those years ago. I also didn't intend to watch two films which are at the same level of 'indie' in them. So let's have a little face-off between the two:

The cast

Please Give has the always excellent Catherine Keener playing a mother who feels the need to save the world; Oliver Platt as her long suffering husband who takes a shine to his neighbour; Rebecca Hall as a breast cancer radiology technician who spends her time looking after her grandmother and sometimes her sister; Amanda Peet as an over-tanned cosmetologist who's portrayed as cold and heartless; Ann Guilbert as the old grandmother living next door to Keener and Platt, who closes herself off from the world and proceeds to make everyone's life miserable; and Sarah Steele as Keener and Platt's teenage daughter with skin problems and all over confidence problems, with a slight hatred towards her mother's kindness.

Happythankyoumoreplease stars Josh Radnor, also the writer and director of the film, who is a down-on-his-luck writer who gets stuck with a foster child who changes his life; Kate Mara as Radnor's love interest, a pretty waitress with aspirations of a singing career; Malin Akerman as Radnor's friend who suffers from Alopecia, and believes the fact that she has no hair is the reason why she hasn't found love; Zoe Kazan as Radnor's cousin Mary Catherine, an artist who doesn't know whether to leave New York with her boyfriend (Pablo Shreiber); and Richard Jenkins in a small role as the man who decides that Radnor's novel may not be good enough.

The premise

Please Give is about a woman, Kate, who sells furniture with her husband and likes to give away her money to homeless people in the streets of New York. They buy the apartment adjacent to theirs so they can expand their house, but they have to wait for the elderly and cranky woman Andra to die before they can do that. As they wait, Kate and Alex, along with their teenage daughter Abby, get to know Andra's two granddaughters, Rebecca, a kind and generous woman who is too busy to have anything distract her, and Mary, a cynical and often harsh woman who has an affair with Alex. Meanwhile, Kate decides to try and erase her guilt of being so well-off that she tries to volunteer for certain groups, which usually end in disaster.

Happythankyoumoreplease centres around a writer, Sam, who is hoping that his novel will get picked up by a major publishing house, but he finds a foster child alone on a train and feels compelled to help him. This child ends up ruining his chances of getting his book published, but he decides to look after him anyway. Sam ends up meeting, and instantly falling for, a waitress named Mississippi, who wants to make her big break in singing in New York. The film also focuses on Sam's cousin Mary Catherine and her boyfriend Charlie, who have opposing views on living in New York, and also Sam's ill friend Annie, who is desperately looking for love in all of the wrong places.


Please Give is really cleverly written by Nicole Holofcener. She makes everything realistic and never allows her characters to become overly neurotic, as they could have been. The characters that she created, though, are brilliant. Especially the dynamic between Kate and Rebecca. Kate is a woman who feels the need to be generous and kind, but only out of guilt. Rebecca, however, seems like she might be taking a leaf out of Kate's book, but instead, she is kind and generous by default. This also spills over into the relationship between Rebecca and Mary, who are two very different people, and it just shows how Rebecca can cope with it all. It's a beautiful character piece which has some fantastic ideas on relationships. The cast really deliver, too, with a surprising Amanda Peet stealing the show as the cold-hearted sister.

Happythankyoumoreplease is a very nice comedy with some really sweet moments within it. The performances are all great, especially the one from Kate Mara. She will be a big star if she continues to choose brilliant lively roles like this one, and also if she continues to sing, as well. Malin Akerman is also lively without a single piece of hair. I really enjoyed Zoe Kazan as well, but that's because I have been continually impressed with her rise to fame. It has an interesting look on three different stages of love (trying to find it trying to hold onto it, and just coming into it) and also a nice take on the 'adoption tale', where one man helps out someone who is less fortunate.


There aren't that many cons for Please Give. There were some slight niggles in the movie and I felt that Kate's guilt was never properly explored, and I was also disappointed with the fact that Alex and Mary's relationship was never revealed, even though it had the potential to be. But I guess that's just trying to convey the film's main point...guilt.

Happythankyoumoreplease is lacking the necessary spark it needs to get it going, and it unfortunately wavers under a large amount of dullness and often succumbs to predictability. Also, the relationship between Sam and Mississippi is strangely done, as one minute, Sam is wildly in love with Mississippi, but the next, the tables have turned. I feel there isn't much of an explanation to this and it makes their story have less potential than the others.

Final word

Please Give is a film not to be missed. It's sharply acted, written and directed, with a great indie vibe.

What I got:

Happythankyoumoreplease is a very nice comedy of sorts let down by some major problems in the script, but Josh Radnor is on to a good start with his writing/directing career.

What I got:


  1. Interesting, I haven't seen either of these but based on your descriptions I would probably watch Please Give rather than the other one with the ridiculous name ;)

    Plus I like Catherine Keener quite a bit whereas there are few names I recognise in the other film..

  2. Please Give is definitely a better choice, I really enjoyed that film. Catherine Keener is always brilliant.

  3. I'll probably watch both of them: Please Give because you made it sound incredibly interesting, and Happythankyoumoreplease because I'm always happy when I see Josh Radnor, and I always want more of him (I don't say thank you after watching HIMYM, though).

  4. Definitely give both of them a go, they are worth it! Josh Radnor is really talented, too :)


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


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