PAYDAY: Comedy in the ghetto

To say PAYDAY is one of the best local films I've ever seen would be an understatement.

by Latoya Burnham

paydayposterallTo say PAYDAY is one of the best local films I’ve ever seen would be an understatement.

I’m a big supporter of local arts. I believe our people are more than a little talented but often don’t find the avenues to express that talent. In PAYDAY, Let’s Do This Filmz, has created a winning comedy that most adults will enjoy.

It is a feature-length comedy-drama, set in one small Bajan village showing a day in the life of longtime friends Romie (Andrew NRG Franklin) and Pack (Damien Snappah Gibson). The two are security guards who long to own and operate their own garage. They have a plan and have been saving for the deposit on the space they want, but problems arise because Pack’s more than recreational use of marijuana lands him in trouble with the neighbourhood “bad John” and drug dealer Juice (Arlon Fantom Dundeal Griffith). It gets even more complicated with Romie’s “loverboy” ways.

Yes, there is considerable swearing in the film. Yes, from the very first dialogue it is peppered with Barbados’ most colourful cuss words, but while such might ordinarily turn me off a film, what it helps to do in PAYDAY is lend a little more credibility to the film. In fact, it feels so Bajan, and the cuss words roll off Pack and Romie’s tongues so easily that at some point you forget they are swearing and it is just like walking down the street in any working class neighbourhood in Barbados and listening to young people on the block or corner or just enjoying good conversation.

PAYDAY is deliberately entertaining. The writers, producers and directors set out to make this film a comedy, and a darn funny one it is. When I entered the cinema last weekend to take in the flick, simply because my week was too hectic to make it any day but Sunday, there were about 20 people in the seats already.

But the time the first scene begun the cinema was almost full. I thought this was encouraging for a local film on a weekend, or any day that is not $6 Tuesday.

When the first scene with the neighbourhood “scabbical” Latisha [Vincia Clarke] ended, the cinema was already laughing uproariously. By the time the movie got halfway, people were talking back to the screen and laughing not just at the movie unfolding in front of us, but at each other’s hilarious assumptions about what was happening and what was coming. Some were insightful, others just gosh darn funny in their suppositions.

The storyline is easy to follow, but not so simplistic that it bores you to tears. It in fact allows the actors to play with their characterisations and bring out the big guns, and also creates a more believable plot and the characters’ tackling of their respective problems.

As the leads, Pack and Romie carry the movie admirably. Their chemistry together is electric on screen and they play off each other well, which only adds to the credibility of the scenes. The character that steals hearts, however unintentionally though, is Flintstone [Julian Moseley]. He perhaps is the main character with the least lines in the film, simply because he is a “paro” and can hardly string cohesive sentences together, but when he appears on screen he buckles your insides with laughter.

The female “love interests”, and I use that word loosely, in the film, Latisha, Cindy [Keisha Chapman] and Marsha [Shakira Forde], add another level of interesting flavour to the film and leave a good taste in your mouth. Chapman’s interpretation of the studious, but sultry character Cindy I found was a little dry, but overall she gave a fair portrayal.

Another aspect that is equally funny in its absolute inanity within the film is the smoke hole or street corner scenes where the extras in the film are either smoking or drinking, or both, and “reasoning” with each other about some of the most stupid things you’ve every heard — from which piece of machinery one would like to be (bobcat, backhoe, ATV) to the antics of a flying centipede.

I tell you, if you go into this film with a full bladder, you will lose it after just the first few minutes, and be careful with the popcorn too or you might choke for laughing so hard.

The applause that followed the credits of PAYDAY, especially after the calypso adaptation of Gabby’s Jack, was truly deserving because this is an enjoyably, funny trip into the Bajan village that one cannot help but want to see again.

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