It gives me great pleasure to unleash praise on a talented person. Josh Radnor is that talented person, and the praise is for his directorial and screenwriting debut, happythankyoumoreplease. It’s a sweet little indie movie, wherein Radnor (Ted Mosby, the still-single centerpiece on HIMYM) plays a character who is way less awesome than his real life self and is surrounded by many cool actors. No, it’s better than that. I was just trying to distill it down to a meaningless stereotype.
Anyway, yes, Radnor’s character is every bit as boringly lovable as Ted. Sam Wexler is a writer, a writer of short stories. (Wait for the metaphor to come up later. It’ll seem obvious and you’ll feel stupid, but then you’ll admire Radnor for getting you to suspend your disbelief.) He has a best friend with alopecia (the very convincing Malin Akerman), a whiny sister-like figure (Zoe Kazan) with a really awesome boyfriend (Pablo Schreiber), and a conscience that forces him to take care of a kid that gets left behind on the subway. He also encounters a major hottie (Kate Mara, who is indeed super hot) and convinces her to move in with him for three days. All the cliche stuff happens to make you feel good at the end of the movie——Sam gets his girl, friend learns to love herself (and Buster Bluth! Tony Hale for the win!), best friend fixes her relationship with her boyfriend, kid gets returned to the law, all that sort of stuff.
But I really like how Radnor went about describing the lives of these young New Yorkers, and that’s why I think Radnor has so much more interesting stuff up his slightly baggy sleeves. It’s as if he was telling a story, one without a beginning, a middle, or an end, or a climax, or any of that stuff. Just relating very good, delicious details about a few select people, and because he’s such a natural wordsmith, those stories wove their way into the story arc and made themselves a movie. It’s very relaxed and natural, and that’s why the “short story = guy can’t commit” metaphor still impressed me, even if I should have seen it coming.
Ted Mosby isn’t everyone’s favorite character, nor is Josh Radnor everyone’s favorite actor, and it’s probably because neither guy is particularly unique from a first impression. But that’s what I like about Radnor, and about all the Ted-like characters he plays. They’re dudes that you actually know, who are good at the core but wholly inconsistent and impulsive in their day-to-day behavior. I think Radnor captures that whenever he’s on the screen, and even more impressively, he can do it behind the camera and with pen to paper. I look forward to seeing what else he comes up with, and I can only hope that he won’t be pigeonholed into nice-guy roles for the rest of his life. Maybe he should attend the school of Fred Savage and Ron Howard and see how life is behind the camera more permanently. It certainly suits him. (Suit up!)