It is unclear who originated the “you played yourself” saying, but whoever did must have seen the cut of Okafor’s Law before the rest of us did. The movie was reported to have undergone legal setbacks that caused delays before receiving a Cinema run. That entire legal wahala premise would have made for more compelling and entertaining fare than what was served on screen. With Okafor’s Law, somewhere somehow the filmmakers decided “to hell with common sense, let’s just pack whatever modern day romcom benchmark we can fit in and see how much we can bamboozle the audience”. You played yourself guys.
Terminator is a benchmark for the pretty boy in need of saving. Emotionally stunted, regarded as sexually capable and played with passable amusement by Blossom Chukwujekwu. Terminator’s real name is Chuks. His two best friends are also adorably named Chuks and they form in descending order of importance a trio of looks, screen time and comic relief. Somewhere, Okafor’s Law(Urban Dictionary has the deets) comes into the film and bets are made. And just in case you were about to judge the pretty boy for only being pretty, he lets you know that Okafor’s Law has indeed been proven as it is a Law, not a Theory, ergo unproven.
The bet is the kind involving a fair bit of lies and scheming innocent women into bed. You just know he’s either going to fall in love with one of them or come out as gay and in love with one of his best friends so they have a wedding where the Instagram hashtag is #Chukssquare and P-Square comes to perform since we have all decided to run with cute underdeveloped plotlines. At least the latter option has more tang.
Nollywood deserves commendation for its unending inventiveness but in a time where filmmakers appear to challenge predisposed assumptions about such a large industry the expectations should not be regarded as light, in any form. If Nollywood has decided to compete and make movies on international scales, it is safe for an audience to demand the standards being propagated by Neo Nollywood. Okafor’s Law is a safe attempt, it is even funny at times and there is a clear sense of professionalism, in many of the scenes but it is a sad reality when the weakest part of the film is the part so easily amended, the story.
One story breaks into threefold and as an audience I was left making mental notes on who to keep up with, who to care about more, and who to care about less than some. In a film where a man has to seduce three women as different as the curl patterns on Natural hair and also sub plots involving a rich man and his trophy wife, a career babe with a closed off heart, and a Bible hugger who has channeled her emotional frustrations to the pursuit of God who never forgets to call you back.
There is a confrontation scene where Toyin Ahimaiku retorts at Omoni Oboli and asks her when women will learn that the man does not pick the girl who slaves for him. A small but empowering sentence which the movie gives a middle finger to when it goes and does just that. Omoni Oboli plays the Nigerian mother in-law fantasy archetype. Beautiful, God fearing and caring enough to cook you an enviable breakfast platter after getting done on the pool table.
The sex scenes are brief and handled with a good directorial eye, the script even begins well, and probably meant well but got lost in rewrites or was passed on to a producer who might have decided to add more cliché’s so there would be more clips for teasers. What did they trailer of this movie advertise? Whatever it did, the movie simultaneously undercuts and overcuts on its promise.
The film was screened as part of the City to City program at the Toronto International Film Festival. Admirably the Lagos spirit was captured in the chemistry between the friends and their banter between Terminator’s living room and their various outdoors drinking spots. Friendship is a recurring and underrated theme explored in many Neo Nollywood fares despite on screen chemistry between co leads racking up the charts. Like last year’s Dinner and more recently Green White Green and Ojukokoro. Something to be said for the improvisational abilities of our actors. And of performances, Gabriel Afolayan is a national treasure, guard him well. He is yet to underperform in anything I’ve seen. Tina Mba sits well in her role of the concerned lonely mother.
From us at Sodas ‘N’ Popcorn HQ, This movie gets a Popcorn and Hotdog.