Holy $%&*! Happy FNK Sunshine has a $%&! lot of £%@#!$ eff-bombs!
Shock values aside, the movie also has charm, humor, and successfully works in an overused-yet-still-relevant message. Dig it. This indie story from North Bay, Ontario has heart.
And gives a ton of actual $%&*s!
Title: Happy FKN Sunshine (2022) Director: Derek Diorio Writers: Ryan Keller // James Gordon Ross Studio: Other Animal IMDb Plot: A sister and brother growing up in a poor industrial town struggle to create a better life through music. Joe Says: Happy FKN Sunshine plays out like a classic rock ballad. There is a decent hook, a catchy beat, and makes you smile.
Will (Matt Close) is a high school senior whose already bleak life looks all the more miserable once the mill shuts down, putting his alcoholic father Frank (Lewis Hodgson) on the pogey making their low-income family even lower. Will, like Bill S. Preston, Esq and Ted Theodore Logan before him, knows he can make it – he simply needs a real guitar. His sarcastically-named band, the eponymous Happy FKN Sunshine, is nearly there as well. They need a little refinement. And they need a bass player.
Will magically gets both wishes granted. His sister Ronnie (Mattea Brotherton), a friendly-neighborhood weed supplier, dishes out the cashish and purchases a righteous Gibson for her favorite little bro. Then, local weirdo Artie (Dana Hodgson) is discovered to be one hell of an ax-man. The band jams; and they jam well.
Although set in the present day, Happy FNK Sunshine feels like it is grooving with Seventies themes. The one mill town faces an agonizing strike that demoralizes everyone. A high school kid dreams of taking his guitar to the big city. Problems arise with the parents, the band, and there is the prevalent deficit of money haunting them like the ghost of Neil Peart. And much of the music within is guitar-driven, hard rock; not exactly the style that is burning up the Billboard 100. But this band of 21st Century Gen Z kids, though, are all about the YouTube views. And the social issues they deal with are, unfortunately, timeless.
Director Derek Diorio balances his ensemble cast giving the band kicks and licks within the backdrop of the strife all are facing. Through it all, though, the story remains as even as a curling sheet. Conflict arises as Artie and lead singer Vince (Connor Rueter) throw down with cliche Lennon-McCartney impressions while Ronnie’s constant sampling of her product worries her girlfriend Danielle (Bridget Graham). Even when the stress gets to Frank in a viciously, violent way, he, too, never becomes a heavy antagonist. Nor does he become a caricature like John Lithgow’s fatherly preacher from Footloose. But that might not have been too bad. Happy FNK Sunshine needed to move that needle closer to either end of the dial. Some of the story arcs needed stronger, or even wilder, closure. Fortunately the modulation that is shown makes for a solid groove.
Happy FKN Sunshine plays out like a classic rock ballad. There is a decent hook, a catchy beat, and makes you smile. Regardless of any $%&*s!