So I watched The Jakes Are Missing…
I was really looking forward to this movie – the trailer seemed funny and lighthearted and I’m really trying to consistently support local films. I feel every successful offering, represents a giant step not only for the individual film but also for the industry as a whole and The Jakes Are Missing, is definitely a successful offering.
Okay, basic plot: Janice (Mampho Brescia) and Donald Jakes (Pope Jerrod) are a successful power couple who seemingly have the perfect life, there’s only one problem – Janice and Donald have fallen out of love with each other and their marriage is hanging on by a thread. Their looming journey towards divorce is halted when Simon (Mpho Sebeng) – the couple’s son – witnesses a murder and the entire family need to be put into witness protection. The family is taken to a small town – Pumpkin Valley – an extremely close-knit community, a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the big city. This forced journey of escape will either be the binding force the family needs to work things out or the final straw that breaks the camel’s back.
This movie is very similar to a movie that came out a few years ago called Did You Hear About The Morgans? starring Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker. Both films have couples near divorce who are whisked away to remote towns after witnessing murders. So this movie isn’t going to score any points for originality; but, if you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you’ll know that I think that if a movie can’t be original, it should at least be a fun ride and this movie is a fun ride. There were plenty of moments while watching this movie that I stopped and thought, “wow, I’m actually really enjoying this movie. I’m having fun watching this story.”. It’s got a great South African flavour to it and that’s the appeal of local film – seeing your stories told by your people. When I left the cinema I was searching for a word to describe this film and the word ‘delightful’ immediately came to mind.
This movie also has moments of great humour. The Jakes are being hunted down by a set of three bumbling criminals led by Fred (played wonderfully by Jody Abrahams). These guys are absolute idiots and are far more bark than actual bite. They have these great side comments and little one-liners that are almost said under their breathes that I really thought were funny. There’s also another great comedic trio in this movie – Jenny, Candi and Mary-Anne – who are the Jakes’ new neighbours and who all have a not-so-subtle crush on Donald. They provide a great breath of levity into the movie and keep things from getting stale.
The acting in this movie is also quite well done. Pope Jerod, Mampho Brescia and Mpho Sebeng all have great chemistry and really sell the troubled family image the movie is going for. Darlington Michaels and Abigail Kubeka also put in some solid work in supporting roles in this film; using their wealth of experience to excellent use. I enjoyed all the acting in this movie and think this is what happens when you cast actual actors in a film instead of celebrities who are actually just models and not genuine actors.
Now while I did enjoy this movie a lot, it isn’t perfect. There were too many moments in the film where points of tension are resolved too easily. Janice and Donald have been in a loveless marriage for years but their reconciliation occurs almost within hours of moving to the town.I wanted their reconciliation to have a slower build-up because that would have felt more genuine to me. There are also far too many montages in this movie. Okay, maybe there are only two but the issues that these montages resolve are major ones. It feels like all the tension and conflict was sucked out of this movie because the majority of the problems the characters face are solved through montages instead of characters actually speaking and interacting with each other.
This was probably done to limit the movie’s runtime but I think this movie needed to be fifteen minutes longer so that issues could be properly delved into and resolved. Everything felt a bit shallow and superficial. Nothing feels at stake because everything always seems to be worked out so easily so there’s very little emotion you need to invest. Also another thing I didn’t like was Zakeeya Patel’s character – Nancy who develops a crush on Donald. I didn’t have a problem with Patel’s acting, I actually enjoyed it but her character felt like nothing more than a plot device. Nancy has a crush on Donald because…well, because the script said so. Her character has no identity outside of her infatuation with Donald. Her sole purpose is to be a temptation for Donald and that’s it. Once again, this just felt shallow, in fact, hollow. I also had a problem with the film’s sound. Sections of the dialogue sounded like they had been re-dubbed and that was quite annoying.
Overall, The Jakes Are Missing is an enjoyable movie. It’s funny, has a great local style and I recommend you go see it. 7/10
P.S. On a side note, this has nothing to do with the actual film, I have to commend the film studio or whoever is in charge of the film’s marketing for the ease with which one can find information about this film. There’s a website, various social media accounts so finding out names and getting pictures was really easy. You would think this would be an obvious feature to any film in 2015 but trust me, not all local films have this worked out yet.