by Okon Ekpo
In the prologue for Mrs Right Guy, a South African romantic comedy directed by Adze Ugah, a ravishing beauty Gugu (Dineo Moeketsi) wakes up in a picture perfect hotel room in Seychelles on the morning after her wedding day only to find she has been jilted by her day old husband. Incredulous as this premise might seem, the whole point of going to the movies is submitting to the suspension of belief.
Fast forward some 2 years later and Gugu is still a wounded lion, instantly ready to lash out at any man foolish enough to entertain thoughts of establishing a romantic connection with her, or her best friend Anna (Thando Thabethe,) for that matter. Gugu turns to her work for cold comfort and relies on the safety net of family and friends to help her healing process.
She appears to be doing just fine until one sunny day, while out and about, she runs into certified hot property, Joe (Lehasa Moloi). Joe is a single father who runs a small community involved business selling spicy chicken to city slickers like Gugu. Clearly, the two leads have established a connection but Gugu’s back story is a factor, so she has no time for young men bearing flowers or messages of love. But Joe is such a sweet, regular guy that she chooses to friend zone him. Just in case.
On the work front, Gugu gets a new boss, Dumile (Thapelo Mokoena) who is implanted into the picture just to shake things up and provide the heroine with an alternative hot property so she can pretend to have a hard time choosing between the two.
Mrs Right Guy is the most original film of the year. Said no one ever.
Anyways, the chemistry between Gugu and her new boss is hot and heavy and it is immediately obvious where these two will end up, and it doesn’t involve wedding bells. But pending that time, there is work to be done. For a new campaign at work, Gugu and her team are required to come up with a business/PR proposal that will take a nameless brand and catapult it into national prominence. She convinces Joe to be her project, setting herself up for the awkward situations that are sure to arise.
Films like Mrs Right Guy eventually come right down to the choice the hero/heroine makes. In many cases, it is a given right from the get go so the filmmakers try to make the arrival to this destination feel like a fresh experience. In this case, the only thing fresh is the colourful scenery and beautiful people that populate the film. The plot isn’t exactly developed and we watch our heroine have a change of heart that is inconsistent with her initial character without so much as an explanation as to why.
But it all doesn’t matter in the end because, this romantic comedy does not seek to break any ney grounds in terms of plot, form or skill. The screenplay credited to Pusetso Thibedi and Cati Weinek is elementary filmmaking stuff, made more enjoyable by breezy and occasionally witty dialogue which the characters engage in. There is some mention of the lead character’s lighter skin shade but the writers drop this plot point almost as fast as they raise it, as though they were afraid of delving into such a potentially dramatic subject matter.
Dineo Moeketsi, best known for her work in etv’s never ending soap, Scandal is an engaging enough lead. She still has work to do but she carries the film well enough with her pretty, confident screen presence. Moloi as a regular Joe isn’t quite the perfect fit for his role but his boy next door cheer shines through. Mokoena is decent as the child-man who dares to step up to Gugu.
The picture is decent enough with subtle nods to South Africa’s tourism potential and the music is a nice fit for the movie’s warm themes. There are issues with sound though but Mr. Right Guy warms you up with just the right meld of cheese and fantasy. The finished product is simple minded and almost enjoyable enough to let the flaws slid by.