Mr Local - Recycled Jokes in a familar terrain!
A few minutes into Mr.Local and it turns out exactly like what you feared based on the promos. Rajesh's films have always travelled on a thin line and is predominantly about a guy wooing a girl. While you can debate about the content as such, his first 3 films did have enjoyable moments that also had Santhanam in his prime. Fast forward a bit and the director has not been able to recreate such success in his last 3 films. This is a tricky situation because I am not sure if this is a dip in form or if this is a result of the audience having got bored of revisiting the almost same film in recycled versions. So when he joined hands with Sivakarthikeyan there was a sense of eagerness to see if he was going to try and deviate a bit. But any deviation in Mr.Local is very minimal and has got to do more with trying to cater to the image building exercise of its hero.
Mr.Local is pretty much a 'Taming of the Shrew' at its core. It is baffling to see that filmmakers still consider this as an exciting one liner to be taken up. Moral discussions aside, this would atleast make sense in a relatively more serious film where the stakes are higher. But you can sort of understand the thought process. You want to make a light hearted film but you also want to establish a certain image for the hero.
At a time when comedy tracks are almost a thing of the past, this is a film that operates as a collection of such tracks. That isn't the actual problem. It is the fact that the jokes are hardly funny which has you fuming. The trailer proably did a good thing by setting the expectations right. The film is essentially a magnified version of the same with 'the complan' joke from it being the ideal reference for the kind of comedy Mr.Local has to offer. Someone speaking broken English becomes comedy only when you have a performance that can make you laugh. Mr. Local keeps bombarding attempts at comedy on you and very few actually succeed.
Sivakarthikeyan was a natural when he started. The counters worked. Over here some of them come across as laboured and when that happens the joke is lost. He does light up a few scenes but these are very minimal to hold a 150 minute length movie together. Few relevant digs at recent happenings are sort of brave. While as an afterthought you try and keep reasons for Keerthana's (Nayanthara) arrogant behaviour in the film, the bottomline is that you create a self-made woman character and then make her arrogant and mock her. The film would have probably been much better had it involved more banter between the two lead stars ( the last few minutes are an example) rather than playing out like a hero vehicle and putting down the female counterpart. And when we have a film like Super Deluxe that attempts to tell us that being a transgender is normal, we have Mr.Local that wants us to laugh at a character for a decision on his/her sexuality.
Mr.Local does provide a few laughs but it is at the cost of bearing a barrage of unfunny jokes.