Movie Review: Imoh Umoren’s ‘The Happy.ness Ltd’ goes from Frying Pan into Fire

Director/Producer: Imoh Umoren

Cast: Tope Tedela, Kiki Omeili, Miriam Kayode, Gregory Ojefua, Kingsley Nwachukwu

Genre: Drama

Year: 2016

Duration: 1hr 10mins

Star actors really don’t save a poor production. The pace of this film was slow and boring, and the soundtrack failed to be soulful. Tope Tedela (Ojukokoro, Slow Country) plays a forsaken Greg who’s in desperate circumstances. His face is badly messed up from a fire accident that also affected his daughter. She stays with his mom, away from him at Iyana Ipaja, and we do not see any of them for the duration of the film. Financially broke and spiritually broken, without a job and unable to pay for his daughter’s surgery, he decides to start a shoe-making business.

He may have scraped the capital from neighborhood favors for all it looked like. But why shoe-making? Lesser jobs could have been available but he stuck to his entrepreneurial fire. As if the misery wasn’t enough, he begins an affair with a prostitute (‘Agnes’ played by Kiki Omeili) for skip-worthy scenes I saw no need for. He wanted to marry Agnes and take care of her little daughter. Had he forgotten his own dying child? How about the new business he was trying to get off the ground? The writer (Imoh Umoren) made a hearty jump from the frying pan into the fire with this character. This film is Imoh Umoren’s third feature after the critically-acclaimed Lemon Green and Have A Nice Day.

Kiki Omeili (Catch.er) took her prostitute role too seriously. She played a grosser form of what she did as a kidnapper in Walter Taylor’s Gbomo Gbomo Express. Her perpetual vulgarism was defiant and without decorum. She has a daughter (Miriam Kayode playing an outstanding ‘Mandu’) who brings a flashing reminder of Ifeoma Chukwuogo’s Bariga Sugar to mind.

Kiki Omeili made Agnes as distasteful as possible. Her costumes (Oluwaseun Asaju, Glam Official) were no match for the trashy attitude. Tope Tedela’s faded and baggy pants on the other hand were on point. The work on his face didn’t have enough close-up shots (by Rehoboth Iyobosa) to properly evaluate the make-up. And all the scenes with him in a bus kept to only one angle, capturing only a few passengers, far from the endless sights in Lagos traffic.

Gregory Ojefua (Stormy Hearts, Alter Ego) played Unom, a funny (but not funny) character showing again that comedy doesn’t comfortably wear on him. This guy’s not Papa Ajasco and his performance in The Encounter as a sober military general is a distant comparison. The comedy in this film came briefly in a scene where Tope Tedela wouldn’t give in to giving to a bus preacher. The Happy.ness Ltd is a sad film and the sound design (by Babatunde Golden and Murphy Afolabi) is passable. Editing (Wuraola Oladimeji, Lateef Rasaq) was tacky and the frames were jumpy. Efforts at using background silences to reinforce the gravity of situations didn’t work.

A good story stands a good chance even with poor production, but a poor story and poor production cannot be good.

Without a recommended audience or moral takeaway, The Happy.ness Ltd is rated 3/10.

Watch the trailer here.

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