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Hi, I'm Growing Up

average rating is 4 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

Mar 6, 2023

Film Reviews
Hi, I'm Growing Up
Directed by:
Funmi Adetola
Written by:
Funmi Adetola
Funmi Adetola, Dipo Adetola, Ejibunmi Adetola

An introspective high school student contemplates the changes his life is about to undergo in Hi, I’m Growing Up – a microbudget feature from director and star Funmi Adetola that creatively tells a personal story with filmmaking that outperforms its limitations.

Over the course of a single day, Mike (Funmi Adetola) tries to come to terms with graduation from high school, and moving away from his home and his family. His mother (Ejibunmi Adetola) and father (Motunrayo Adetola) remain their typically overbearing selves, and Mike relies on his sister Ayo (Dipo Adetola) to feed back on his introspections. Among daydreams and drug trips, Mike aims to put his feelings into words in the form of a goodbye speech.

A homemade project shot exclusively on an iPhone 7 and starring the director’s friends and family, Hi, I’m Growing Up is an impressive, creative and profound character study that despite some hits and misses, stands up as a fine piece of filmmaking – and not just in comparison to its shoestring budget. The film is a charming, touching, funny and consistently engaging story of growing up. Funmi Adetola strings his relatively straightforward plot together with amusing interludes which establish Mike as a young man searching for direction. His interactions with family further develop and demonstrate his personality – creating empathy in viewers who will no doubt have experienced the confusing, painful and awkward time in life when it becomes necessary to divorce oneself from their childhood.

Adetola has a brilliant grasp of Mike’s character (likely down to the personal nature of the project) and brings so much to the role as both the film’s writer and star. Mike’s philosophical musings and indulgent broodings brilliantly walk along that tightrope of individual agency and lack of real-life experience – capturing the sense of late-teen angst in a manner more powerful and authentic than plenty of bigger-budgeted contemporaries. Mike’s speech, which ends up addressed to his family, results in a genuinely moving conclusion to the film that brings his drifting character full circle.

The film’s iPhone-captured production necessitates largely fixed shot scenes. Adetola keeps these invigorating for the most part with fast cuts and creative visuals, but there are moments where this limitation does hinder conversation exchanges resulting in some disjointedness. Rough edges are on display – some of these forgivable such as minor shaky cam, and others less so such as a few violations of the 180-degree camera rule. But for any of these mishaps, it should be noted that the film’s creative circumstances are impossible to separate from its production results – with much of its successful charm emanating from the sincerity that drives a smaller-scale feature. Any such mishaps thankfully do not impact on the personality that is imbued or the extent to which character building is achieved – which are the film’s primary accomplishments.

There are some experimental creative risks as well which are of mixed success. A short transition into anime early in the film falls flat, and adds little to the plot or Mike’s character, and sits at odds with the film’s tone. But a drug-fuelled hallucinogenic conversation with a teddy bear ends up as both a pivotal development for Mike’s character and one of the film’s funniest scenes. The license for creativity is fully embraced by the director, and adds to the uniqueness of the work when it is successful, as well as when it is not.

So despite some clunky production and creative misfires, Hi, I’m Growing Up is a relatable and endearing story that exudes personality and a sense of director-driven vision. It firmly punches above its weight by championing a story about growing up, and is evidence to aspiring directors that the potential for great film-making exists with just a camera and a great story.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Indie Feature Film
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