The Happy Camper™ [Paris Noonan & Simran Baweja, UK, 2018]
The Happy Camper™ is a black and white, 1950s period comedy opening with a miserable looking married couple sat on a sofa and an advertorial voiceover selling us the “perfect couple”. Of course, the irony is not lost on us even if it initially appears so for the fulsome salesman. The short film, a TV commercial parody, is acutely cognisant of propaganda that was symbolic of the era.
Back then it was considered normal for a husband to work and for a wife to stay at home, but commonly these young, housebound women had other ambitions in life to achieve before taking the big step into marriage. The film's early scenes visually convey that both are not happy, gradually arriving at the conclusion that something needs to be done about their marital issues. Introducing: The Happy Camper™! The eponymous product is a very simple and hilariously ludicrous contraption – a large, plastic and toothy smile that is appended to the face, a very unconvincing emotional concealer. The moment the couple don the 'Happy Camper' one cannot help but (genuinely) grin from ear to ear.
In regards to the set design and props throughout the film, they are completely in-line with the style and aesthetic of the 1950s. The performances from the actors are convincing to the genre and the cutaways make very good use of showing props that relate to the period. The ingratiating voiceover narrator plays an important role in the film, delivering much irony, when visually we understand a sense of pathos. It is a well-executed performance.
This story really focuses our perspective toward the idea that, in general, problems can get often be ignored, people caring less about others around them and resorting to faking their emotions to please themselves. Clearly, honesty is the best policy. Within this film, it advertises other products that also relate to the message it delivers. A good deal of research has been put into this film, and there is nothing that can be remarked upon that doesn’t work.
The Happy Camper™ is very entertaining to watch. Even without a narrator and, for example, if it were a silent film composed visually in the same manner, the message would still be clearly understood.
'The Happy Camper™' was a film submission in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2018.