According to the dictionary, ‘razz’ means to tease playfully, but that doesn’t come close to its Nigerian meaning. ‘Razz’ in Nigeria means being brute, unmannered and rough. So a razz guy is basically a guy who is rough and unmannered. The movie is the journey of an accursed man back to normalcy. An international business merger is handed to main character Temi Johnson(Afolabi Nosa Adeyemi aka Lasisi Elenu ) to manage but an unfortunate turn of events makes the already high possibility of losing the contract imminent because of his English language.
Temi goes to great lengths to enforce English grammar correctness, some tools he employs include public ridicule and scorn and no one is spared from his reach —family, friends, acquaintances and even fellow workers — everybody chop breakfast. Let’s also bear in mind that he is a top senior executive (like the best guy there) and a believer in his abilities. Although most of his fellow workers realise this, it doesn’t stop him from rubbing it in their faces. All these accrue to three people snapping their fingers at him (they must be children of Thanos) which is a taboo in Nigeria. Since the movie is about sealing a deal, a cleaner seals his fate with a razzness curse.
That leaves us with an international business merger and a razz guy at the helm of affairs. His family and friends try both orthodox and modern treatments on him but none of them worked. After realising the source of his problem, Temi sets out to find out the caster of the curse but a number of challenges spiral from him trying to find this caster. He also meets interesting characters over the course of his journey to normalcy, we have Agbero (Bucci Franklin) who sees thuggery in a professional light and believes it’s his family’s lot. He has been placed on a similar curse as Temi because he wouldn’t pay his brother’s school fees (Agbero’s brother wants to further his education instead). We also meet MC Lively as both a christian priest and a voodoo priest. The movie is packed with such interesting characters.
At the end of this movie, one theme that resounded right from the beginning of the movie was redemption. To be honest, the concept of this movie is not new but there is this surrealism that comes with seeing it being placed in a Nigerian setting. The Razz Guy is not just a story about a hotshot senior executive who is known for his command and insistence on the right usage of English language, it’s also about family, relationship and acceptance.
On the other hand, we have Temi and Nadine’s (Nancy Isime) relationship in the spotlight too. Lasisi Elenu’s performance in this movie didn’t fall short of my expectations, they are comical and relatable. English grammar blunders are something Nigerians are used to. Fact has it that 9 in 5 Nigerians are victims of grammatical assault every two minutes (good luck finding the organisation that put that fact out). Like I said, Nigerians are used to hearing grammatical blunders, it has even formed the bane for most of the jokes we’ve heard over the years, and some have become repulsive with intentional usage. One thing that surprised me was how funny most of these sounded even though I had been hearing some of them for a while. Lasisi Elenu’s acting and charisma makes them even funnier. He really aced the role.
Shalewa Ashafa is also a delight to see on the screen as she receives the blunt ends of Temi’s correction.
MC Lively is also marvelous in the movie, playing the role of two religious leaders which he acted very well. I think he should pursue a career in traditional medicine. Broda Shaggi is okay in his role as Dare as it is different from his online persona. Dare is Temi’s roommate, and one can only wonder how the duo met and are still living together. Another thing I admire about this movie are the camera movements; the close ups really helped sell some of the performances and jokes. It even helps put things in context like this chase scene where we have Agbero showing up like a character in a Western, which was nicely done.
The director, Udoka Oyeka and writers (Egbemawei Dimiyei Sammy and Africa Ukoh), make most of the characters remain in their Instagram personae and this was extended into the film. As usual, we have Lasisi Elenu acting as both the “mumu me” he puts out and also the classy him. MC Lively and Broda Shaggi were also extensions of their online selves.
The normal curve of movies like this lies in the fact that the caster of the curse always becomes unreachable after the deed has been done. Bringing this to Nigeria becomes problematic because does this mean the cleaner stops coming to work as we were made to believe? An elderly Nigerian man taking the job of a cleaner means he must really need it, and I don’t see him leaving the job for ANY reason.
Udoka Oyeka keeps getting better. I say this seeing the consistency in the comedic tone of this movie, the same tone that was used in his last movie, The Three Thieves (2019).
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- In modern day Nigeria where everything reeks of corporate and excessive office behavior interlaced with our “respect culture”, I don’t see workers at a firm snapping their fingers at their colleagues because of their behavior. Rather than waste time snapping their fingers like Thanos, they would probably be sewing threads, tagging the unruly person on Twitter with an anonymous account. Besides, no one snaps in a corporate setting! What happened to fear of other people or senior executives seeing them? This unruly behaviour of Temi will probably be the bane of their next office gossip.
- The acting from the veteran actors was average. There is this scene where TV couple Tina Mba and Nobert Young ( playing Nadine’s parents) and Ireti Doyle (Nadine’s aunt) try to portray Ireti as just getting back from overseas and we have them throwing these accents all over the place. I really cringed at this as it didn’t seem natural.
Our Nollywood Model Checklist tally
- An aerial shot of a road in Lagos:
- Instagram/Internet superstars (that cannot act): ✅✅
- Sloppily placed ads:
- Crass comedy: ✅
- A handful of standout actors: ✅✅
- A sprinkle of old Nollywood actors: ✅✅
- A novel idea ruined by poor execution:✅
John Jeremiah is an art lover who just wants to watch films and be taken care of. If he isn’t seeing something, he’s probably reading or eating okpa.
The Razz Guy will be available on Netflix from August 12, 2022.