Starring: Joseph Benjamin, Daniella Down, Helen Gold
Director: Tony Sebastian Ukpo
Running Time: 95 mins
Mum, Dad, Meet Sam is a Nigerian film about a Nigerian man who falls in love with a woman from London, but upon bringing her back to his home country, chaos ensues when his mother finds out she’s white.
Being low-budget doesn’t necessarily mean that a film can’t seem slick and professional. Numerous films made on a shoestring have proved as captivating and fascinating as big Hollywood productions, but that’s unfortunately not what this film manages to do. Despite featuring a charismatic central performance from Joseph Benjamin, it’s a generally very amateurish film, with frustrating editing, directing and acting across the board, all of which really takes away from what could be a fairly entertaining, albeit simple and cheesy rom-com story.
Before all that, let’s start off on the bright side. Although there’s not all that much to praise about this film, the one thing that really works is the lead performance by Joseph Benjamin. Outperforming all of his co-stars to a significant extent, proving slick, likable and convincing enough to be in any Hollywood film, Benjamin is a great lead to follow throughout the story, and proves the only way in which you can actually foster some sort of emotional connection with the film.
Also, the film’s premise is fairly interesting, and although it’s not executed perfectly, it’s a simple enough story to be engaging throughout. In similar fashion to the far superior The Big Sick, the film does do a good job at highlighting cultural and generational differences that impede normal people’s lives and loves. It may occasionally feel a little over-simplified and straightforward, given that the rift between Benjamin’s mother and his white girlfriend seems far too superficial even for cultural and traditional practices to come into it, but the premise at hand still proves occasionally interesting, meaning that the film as a whole isn’t all that awful.
However, that doesn’t mean there still aren’t major problems with the film. The story, while engaging at times, is never quite as entertaining or emotionally riveting as it actually needs to be. As a romance, this is a pretty poor showing, and it really undoes some good work on its character and relationship development towards the end by baiting you with a clever and bold ending, only to disappoint with something much cheesier.
Of course, the biggest issue with this film is the fact that it’s fairly amateurish. Yes, it’s low-budget, but you can tell that the talent behind the camera just isn’t experienced enough to really make the film work quite as well as it could. The lead performance by Joseph Benjamin is good, however the remaining supporting performances are all way over-the-top, or just a little too bland, a problem that suggests poor directing from Tony Sebastian Ukpo.
What’s more is that the film just isn’t that well-made. Some of the transitions and titles look like they’ve been made on Windows Movie Maker, while numerous scenes feature uncomfortably close camera angles, fixate on actors for uncomfortably long periods of time, and some driving scenes don’t even have matching interior and exterior images, all problems that really distract from the possibility of getting properly engaged in the film.
On the whole, Mum, Dad, Meet Sam isn’t a totally awful film. The lead performance from Joseph Benjamin is very charismatic and the high point of the film, while the story premise offers up some interesting insights into cultural differences. However, it’s still a troubled movie filled with rookie errors ranging from overacting to poor directing, all of which prove too distracting to really care about the story properly, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.0.