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  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Mr. Happy" is a 24-minute short film from March 2015 and in slightly under two years, this one managed over 2 million views on Youtube. The director is Colin Tilley, mostly known for his music videos so far, and the writer is Steve McClean. The star is probably lead actor Chance the Rapper and I really hope that he is a better musician than actor because I found him very underwhelming. His female co-lead Marie Oldenbourg is slightly better, but this may also have to do with her stunning looks and not necessarily great range. This is a film about depression, suicide, art, happiness and many other aspects in here. And it is a prime example of a film that gets overrated and over-appreciated because of the memorable plot twist at the very end. Regardless of if you saw it coming, it does not make up for the 20 minutes of empty mediocrity before all that. Many may forget these in the light of what happens in the last 150 seconds, but I will not. Thumbs-down from me and neither the rating nor the popularity are justified here. Watch something else instead.
  • WriteForever25 August 2016
    Warning: Spoilers
    Clever. Truly clever. A great twist-on-the-end finish. The best part of the ending is inarguably the pay-off scene when (Spoiler Alert) we discover the artist's true passion. Finally, great acting and production values - with the exception: Due to poor revelation through editing and camera angles, it is not well-revealed who the hit person is. In the dark gas station, where a girl enters a truck, it's not immediately clear who she is or why she's fleeing. (And maybe, in post production, producers could have removed the painful sounding "clack"- heard when the murderess bangs her teeth into the wine bottle. Redacting that disturbing, undermining noise would have taken only a minute to edit away; this isn't news to anyone who has even the most rudimentary video editing equipment.)
  • The theme of clinical depression in the film industry is one delicately touched upon by many films, may it be About a Boy, Little Miss Sunshine, or even Perks of Being a Wallflower. All of these films focus on depressed characters and the impact it has on the people around this character who attempt to help them. Well Colin Tilley's short film, Mr Happy, manages to perfectly capture the potency of portraying a suicidal man, with no-one around to help.

    The main character, Victor, played by Chancelor Bennett, is a man defeated by his own redundant routine and a distressing experience of being cheated on, but cannot have the courage to kill himself. The concept, devised by Colin Tilley, is a unique spin on the 21st Century's approach to serious issues, depicting a website providing a service for people struggling to commit suicide. The melancholic tone of the plot, accompanied by the intense, brilliant acting from Bennett, provides an intriguing inner view to the mind of a depressed office supplies worker. The use of a three character cast is not uncommon in short films lacking a Hollywood budget, but in Mr Happy, the two external characters manage to encapsulate Victor's problems and social difficulties. Bennett's love interest in the film is a well played role of a beautiful young women with the ability to distract Victor from his suicidal tendencies, she is a mysterious figure who is hard to pin down.

    In an interview with Billboard.com, Bennett said how he "connected (to) with this misguided search for true happiness" but admits it was "kind of hard to get fully in tune" with the notion of being suicidal. This was not particularly evident, as Bennett poignantly translated feelings of anxiety and frustration. The attention to detail and post production perception of Victor's paranoia is expertly done by Colin Tilley, the director behind Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda" video and Chris Brown's "Look At Me Now". However, this is a change of pace for Tilley; there are no action-packed scenes in this short film, no car chases, no explosions or witty one-liners from the protagonist, just a gripping portrayal of a lonely man trying to end it all.
  • Perhaps we have enough good examples now so that the old "rapper slash actor" banner does not hold out as much terror as it once did, however for me at least, the words "debut from acclaimed music-video director" still makes a chill run deep into my core. I did make an effort to put this to one side, although knowing that director Tilley is probably most recently well-known for the absurdly gratuitous Anaconda video for Nicki Minaj, really didn't make me hold out high hopes for this film of suicide being any good.

    The plot sees a young man trying and failing to take his own life, and instead turns to an online service where you pay for your own murder instead. As a story it is really very uneven; at times it seems events-driven, at others it seems to want to be slow and reflective – resting on the conflicted face of Victor for longer periods; it is also slightly comedic at times, but then has rather corny moments of "opening up" too. I really was at a loss for what it was trying to do because, if I got interested in the plot then it generally seemed to go away from that, while if I tried to find interest in the character of Victor then it also gave me very little; the ending also suggests that this was what it was all about all along, but if this is true then this was too obvious and really not as impacting as it must have thought.

    The weakness in material and tone is really what hurts the film, and also all those involved in it. Chancelor Bennett (aka Chance the Rapper) plays his Victor as naturally and awkwardly as he can, but there is never really a character behind this shuffling awkwardness; this is a big problem since I really did have much reason to be interested in him and it was an one-note character. The direction probably didn't help him with this, since the characters generally are poor but the shots are good and production values high – it does look and sound good, with nice design of the images throughout, but it is incredibly superficial since it really has nothing going on below this. In the end the obvious ending comes and goes, and we are left no wiser (or interested) about the character, the idea of assisted suicide, or indeed what we were supposed to make of the whole thing. The twist of the ending does introduce another understanding into the title, but again it is one that is left unexplored or commented on.

    Maybe this film was a reaction by Tilley to giving the world Anaconda – I could see that video causing all those involved to look long and hard at themselves in the mirror and re-evaluate, ultimately deciding to spent that time and talent on making something more worthy. Sadly this is not it, and instead we get an uneven and unfocused film with really very little consistently going, all in service of an ending which the viewers will all arrive at a good few scenes before the film actually does. This is not to say that the film is awful – it isn't, but it is a fairly pointless short that really offers the viewer little, during or after.