Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sean Kelly

Canadian Film Fest 2013: My Thoughts on Mr. Viral


In a nutshell, the darkly humorous thriller Mr. Viral can be described as Mad Men meets Fight Club.  Taking place at a Toronto ad agency, the film follows three interconnected storylines.  In the film’s primary story, the agency’s former creative director Simon (Jefferson Brown) sets out to outdo his smarmy replacement Andy (Christian Lloyd) by secretly producing risqué viral videos for the agency’s family-friendly products.  At the same time, Stacy (Alex Appel) suspects her lesbian wife of infidelity in Montreal and posts ads asking for video proof.  However, she ends up getting more than she bargained for when the neighbours set up a voyeur website under her name and phone number.  Finally, accountant Bruce (Michael Ripley) begins experimenting with adult personals and finds out first hand the dangers of online dating.

I’m going to say up front that Mr. Viral is a very trashy film.  While at times this can be a good thing, I found it very difficult to find any redeeming qualities to the film.  It is obvious that the film is meant to be seen as a satire about the power of marketing.  However, when you start showing vulgar parodies of popular social networks on screen, the film begins to seem more childish than funny.  That said, it can also be surmised that the film is not trashy enough.  While there is definitely quite a lot of language and implied sexuality, it also seemed like the film was holding back somewhat.  If you are going to make a trashy satire, at least consider going as far as you can with the subject matter.

There is also very few likeable characters in the film.  For all intents and purposes, Simon is the lead of the film, however as he develops his alterego of Mr. Viral, he comes off as more and more antagonistic.  This would automatically make rival Andy the film’s protagonist, except for the fact that he is an arrogant jerk for much of the running time.  Stacy and Bruce come off as the most sympathetic of the main characters, even though they are not perfect characters themselves.

From a technical standpoint, I can at least say that the film looks good, having been filmed with RED cameras.  It’s also always a plus whenever Toronto gets to play itself in a film, with the video billboards at Yonge-Dundas Square playing a major role in the plot.  However, I also have to say that, as a whole, the film felt a bit more like a bad TV series than a film.

Even though it had the chance of going somewhere interesting, in the end I can say that I stopped caring about Mr. Viral by the final credits.  While aiming to be a satire of viral marketing, the film falls apart by having no real characters to root for and trying to seem smarter than it actually is.


Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).