At some point during Dinner, I made the decision to put down my pen and close my book because I noticed how much of a good time the audience was having, throwing jabs at the characters, laughing at the development of things and at one point there might have been an applause. Undoubtedly Dinner is a standard formula movie and leaves nothing to its praise in terms of originality nor does it aspire to be above the comedy which it doles out but the experience of watching an audience interact so actively with the movie is a positive step for the new school Nigerian cinema movement. I dropped my critic eyes and just went along with the experience.
Dinner’s premise is simple enough, a plus for these formula comedies. Friends and their partners meet for a dinner to celebrate one of the couples impending marriage. There are the childhood friends and the rogue single bad guy friend who smokes with the same ease as he listens, ogles women and texts inappropriate things to them while their boyfriends sit beside them at dinner. Secrets are revealed first to the audience, then to the characters, drama ensues, cliché’s ride out and the process of pacification begins. Ah bright futures, what would movies do without at least a hint of a happy ending.
Speaking of endings, while the movie carries itself with impressive charm for most of it, the overdone ending ruined the taste of what was moving along so pleasantly. Even the audience seemed to don their critic hats for a few minutes and see through the cop out the film makers tried to push on us. If one will stage an airport chase scene in a city as logistically inconsistent as Lagos, the character has to be rich or influential enough to bypass systemic hurdles. How else would a person overcome traffic, heat, policemen, bribe enough TSA officials and have enough romance save to make ones voice loud enough for the heartbroken partner sitting in the boarding lounge morose and being philosophical about life choices.
The real charm in Dinner is the cast whose easy and fun chemistry carries the movie’s many group scenes. They laugh, argue diss themselves and express affection is a way that really make son believe these are long-time friends and enemies. An excellent ensemble from New school Nigeria’s cinema’s class of actors early twenty first century. There are scenes filmed with such glee and expertise particularly a bar scene with Richie and Diana’s characters and another between Richie and Kehinde Bankole’s characters that caused me to raise a little fist in the air for the cinematographer and director.
New school Nigerian cinema owes some debt to the old school so it was a pleasure seeing veterans Richard Mofe Damijo and Ireti Doyle in cameos portraying what the twitter generation will brand #couplegoals. The real star in the movie is Deyemi Okanlawon. Since he shot to mainstream fame in Ndani TV’s Gidi Up, the actor has displayed impeccable range and charisma and this movie should get him cast and labelled as the Nigerian Will Smith. The producers on seeing how well the movie will do might be tempted to create a spinoff movie with the character of Richie seeking and finally finding redemption. Please don’t. There are not enough fleshed out bad guy characters in Nigerian cinema and Richie has earned a place for his unapologetic nature towards savagery and ability to listen and be sensitive towards women in need. As described in the move “you’re in good hands with Richie”
Dinner is a great date movie. Aside the added pleasure of a great ensemble it provides viewers things to talk about and argue about after the movie. There will be many gender based arguments and relationship back and forths. See it after work sometime.
Dinner earns a score of a Popcorn and Hotdog.
This review was written by Alithnayn Abdulkareem