Moses Inwang helms his second movie of the year, in the late August release that is Bad Comments. Almost exactly three months after Lockdown – the thriller which starred Omotola Jalade Ekeinde and Ini-Dima Okojie – dropped, comes Bad Comments, Inwang’s second directed pic of the year, which premiered on the 22nd of August, and led the box office charts in its debut weekend.
Bad Comments stars Jim Iyke – who is also the film’s executive producer – as Frank Orji, a film bigshot, whose life gets turned upside down following social media hiccups. Written by Kehinde Joseph, this film also features Osas Ighodaro, Ben Toutou, Chiwetalu Agu, and Sharon Ooja, among others.
Bad Comments was advertised – for a lack of better term – as a film that highlights the consequences of online trolling and cyberbullying. To an extent, the start of this movie reflects that; and also gives credit to its plot direction. We see a man dishevelled on purpose, in pyjamas, with a team of gunmen, facing a handful of people and telling them how comments like theirs ruined his life. In a way, this helps fuel some intrigue; how do we get here? Which is just as well, because, as this movie progresses, that intrigue is just about the only thing that keeps it being watchable.
Bad Comments, if nothing else, possesses a good premise. The consequences of social media trolling and haranguing is something that we don’t talk about enough. Yet, at the same time, Bad Comments doesn’t really talk about the issue it brings forth. First, there’s the shoddy analysis. Bad Comments recognise the relative power of anonymity in terms of social media backlash, yet this film completely ignores social currency and material power, while at the same time using it in its progression.
Its insistence on getting to a point whereby we see the consequences of social media trolling makes it ignore other factors. At times, it felt like little more than a sympathy campaign for the influential and powerful; help from social media comments, which in itself isn’t a bad plea, but the portrayal of it reeks of dishonesty.
But if analysis of the movie can be overlooked, the same definitely can’t be said for the execution. Bad Comments is meant to touch on social media abuse and trolling, but we hardly get any. Instead, we get one simple story, created by someone who’s marked out our protagonist as a target. It’s not really a case of social media trolling and its toll, it’s simply an understandable, albeit over-the-top, reaction to a national audience that was being misled.
What particularly makes this movie’s central theme flawed is the reaction to it. Suddenly, we go from a man on the receiving end of social media trolling to purposefully and dedicatedly hunting down said trolls. It’s all the more telling when Bad Comments doesn’t quite take note of the power dynamic in that situation, and how social media trolling differs from tracking down people with the use of significant r
esources – the source of also questions the logical cohesion of the film in itself. The way it’s done is contradictory to its point, and the way it becomes used for laughs makes the film a touch hypocritical. If nothing else, this is failure of perspective from the movie.
Amidst all this, it’s that intriguing moment it created via its beginning that makes you stick around for Bad Comments. You wonder how we get to that certain point in the story. But the issue is that Bad Comments completely glosses over that, and gives that scenario little to no significance.
In some ways, Jim Iyke works for the role of Frank Orji. The moments when Frank looks beaten down and looks to have lost everything, those are the moments that feel tangible in the film, and the credit helps to portray that. The only snag is when he has to display flash and a sense of panache, then he becomes artificial.
But the more galling part of Bad Comments is with the twist at the end. In a bid to be dramatic and intense, Bad Comments does away with any shred of coherence it had. With its twist at the climax, it reduces its whole issue – the targeted attacks, the social media trolling – to a small fry in the shadow of an obsessive assistant with a romance-centred saviour complex. It seemed like this movie couldn’t resist the temptation of giving evil a face, and then it sullies its entire point at the end. Not to mention how that’s emblematic of some rather odd character motivations in the film.
Bad Comments brought forward a good premise, or at least it said it was going to. The problem is that it analyses it badly, doesn’t work said premise enough, and then relegates the whole issue to a secondary problem in the space of 20 closing minutes. The movie had a point to make, and yet missed it completely.
From Sodas and Popcorn, Bad Comments gets a Popcorn and Water.