Udoka Oyeka’s “The Razz Guy” Shines Light On Age-Old Superstitions
The comedy genre is one of the most sought-after in Nollywood. It is also a fan favorite because if you live in Nigeria, you know how heated things are economically, socially, and politically. A little laugh, especially one gotten from a movie, is enough to take your mind away from the chaos. Directors and producers know this which is why comedic content is being dished out consistently on the big screen, social media, and streaming services. “The Razz Guy” is a comedic pleasure and it deserved a nod at the AMVCAs.
The plot was simple and not burdened with the weight of the usual conflict and climax brouhaha. Temi (Lasisi Elenu), a hot-shot lawyer and cocky perfectionist, finds himself unable to word his speech properly after a curse is placed on his head. The curse couldn’t have come at a better time because he was assigned the important task of overseeing a merger between his firm and American associates. Through the struggles he encountered to lift the curse, he learned the importance of humanity and humility.
Simple as the plot may be, it was very unique. A lot of comedic films don’t delve into Nigerians’ belief in curses and superstitions, along with their effects. That area is usually left for native flicks on African Magic that could scare you into never offending anyone for as long as you live. There was nothing scary about this film (except if you find snapped fingers and altered speech scary). If anything, it satirically highlighted the importance of being careful with the way you address people. No matter how highly placed you are in society, humility is a necessary quality. If you aren’t humble, you may step on a few toes, make enemies and end up with an unintended curse. This doesn’t mean that you should walk around on eggs shells when dealing with people, but this Udoka Oyeka film’s message is to always stay grounded.
A film’s success is often dependent on the prowess of the lead actors, or in this case actor because Lasisi Elenu carried this film on his back. The social media star proved that he was more than just a Snapchat-filtered comedian by bringing more professionalism and less “big lips” to his first major role. His gesticulations, comedic timings, and nuances were perfect; his ability to transition from a suited and booted lawyer with a nasty attitude to a “razz guy” with no sense of decorum was amazing, considering this was his lead debut. He was such a delight to watch and if you weren’t told, you would never know he is a newbie.
An honorable mention should be given to Bucci Franklin because his role as a polished agbero was very surprising, yet it added to the comedic elements of the film. Though his screen time was brief, he nailed his Tommy Shelby British accent. Maybe he watched a lot of Peaky Binders re-runs in preparation for the role.
Another thing this film excelled in is the lack of a star-studded cast. Many have criticized it for being a sardine filled with social media personalities, but that is one of its many strengths. Talent is what is needed for comedies, not big names without it so having the likes of Lasisi, MC Lively, and Broda Shaggi was not a bad idea at all. They are heavyweights in social media comedy and have a knack for making people laugh. Sure, the assertion that some (Broda Shaggi) didn’t do anything different from what they usually do in their skits may be true, but that is what added to the appeal of the film. If Broda Shaggi’s role was serious wouldn’t you raise an eyebrow?
Also, the lineup of a social media cast was a smart marketing move. Social media stars are celebrities in their own right; they have millions of followers and fans who watch their every move. They are very influential and can reach a wide range of audiences. If they star in a box office or streaming release, they would definitely promote it to their already established following and that means an increase in streams and ticket sales.
Perhaps the only negative of this film is Nancy Isime’s cringe-worthy attempt at a Valley girl accent. Understandably, her character Nadine (Temi’s girlfriend) was not the brightest toolbox in the shed, but using the stereotype to highlight that fact was cliché and unnecessary. Nadine could’ve been ditzy with a Nigerian accent and it would’ve been fine. The movie is called “The Razz Guy” not “Clueless”.
Summing it all up, “The Razz Guy” is a must-see comedy, not only because it delved into Nigerian superstitions, but its colorful characters showed that indeed, there is no shame in being razz.
Streaming Service: Netflix
Release Date: March 19, 2021 (cinematic debut); August 12, 2022 (Netflix)
Run-time: 1 hour, 38 minutes, and 54 seconds
Director: Udoka Oyeka
Cast: Lasisi Elenu, Broda Shaggi, Nancy Isime, Omotunde Adebowale David, MC Lively, Bucci Franklin and Frank Donga.