I'm no big fan of romantic comedies or of SA films being made up entirely of romantic comedies but this one really got me good and I shall explain why. Let's dig in...
Adze Ugah (director) is no stranger to South African TV and film. He has directed popular drama series such as Jacob's Cross, Isibaya and Generations (before it became The Legacy) and the last time we saw him on the feature film circuit was for his crime caper film Gog' Helen featuring Lillian Dube, which was big on laughter even though done on a tight budget.
Ugah is back with a bigger cast and a bigger budget in Mrs Right Guy and the film hits all the right notes for me, starting with the cast.
Dineo Moeketsi is brilliant as Gugu, our lead who's going through her own version of "A Dairy of a Mad Black Woman" moment, with reason. Gugu is rather a relatable figure in spite of her man hating issues.
She's not living in a loft in Maboneng, driving a super expensive car whilst trying to make it into the advertising community. Like most folks from a working class background, she's in the township, but not your Yizo-Yizo township but more like Hopeville township, where people like you and me live and are not just criminals, gangsters and thugs.
She's surrounded by a crew of sassy friends, who include Anna, played by Thando Thabethe, as the overly sexualised best friend and the obligatory queen character Thabang played by Tau Maserumule.
The threesome give you a sense of ladies experience of Johannesburg today; from their sassy dialogues to the random pick-up lines ladies suffer from traffic cops and car guards to the type of men in their lives. These characters give you insight into the life of a young female living in Jozi.
Credit has to be given to the screenplay writers who finally do justice to one of the lived experiences of a lot of females in Joburg. It’s not surprising to see the writing team and producing team is made up of ladies such Cati Weinek, Mokopi Shale and Khethiwe Ngcobo who make up Fuze Films, which is the production company behind Mrs Right Guy.
Yet the film is not about social realism, it is still a romantic comedy whereby Gugu has to choose between the BEE type versus the dependable kasi type. Unlike movies such as Tell Me Sweet Something, the film is not shy of its SA context.
From the central premise to even the language, yep go back and watch Tell Me Sweet Something and check how many times people speak vernacular or townships are shown on screen?
These touches add to Mrs Right Guy and don't detract from it. Although the movie is not outwardly making a political statement, the plot is basically about a young lady getting over her hang ups and finding true love, yet there's a subtle message about SA's consumerist culture.
How our consumerist culture has seeped into our relationships. How we are attracted to the most shiny, most blingy, most glossy of things and not their substance and Gugu learns to unlearn that.
Adze really does a great job with his performers; Moeketsi is Gugu, we are made to empathize with her, get angry at her, laugh with her and most importantly understand her.
Thapelo Mokoena continues to be typecast as the smooth successful black guy and he can play this role in his sleep, whilst Teboho Moloi is definitely eye candy for the ladies but he does do the kasi guy with heart routine very well.
Yet the person in the centre of the film is Dineo Moeketsi as Gugu, just like Ayanda (in Ayanda and the Mechanic), it's the leads' story that makes one fall in love with the film and Dineo Moeketsi owns Gugu and she does look mighty fine in those Thula Sindi originals (wink wink nudge nudge). She carries this film.
Mrs Right Guy is funny, light and it's got something positive to say in a positive way. Adze showcases Joburg from Maboneng to Neighbourgoods market to Orlando in a positive light with his drones and most importantly the people who live in it. So do yourself a favour and go check this movie out.