For all intents and purposes, Kemi Adetiba’s The Wedding Party succeeds on the basis of pure entertainment value. The jokes are more often than not timely, and the relatability factor takes the social media-era parody of the Nigerian psyche to great heights on the big screen. If anyone was unsure about the bankability of placing big money on a mostly Nigerian cast, rest assured producers are devising the next new big budget entertainment extravaganza. More power to them.
The movie is standard comedy fare. A couple prepares for the biggest day of their lives so far and everything that could go wrong with a comical twist does. The dress mishap, the in-laws who never agree on anything, husband and wife who are from different tribes and socio-economic orientations, the ex, a mistress. If I’m missing something, anyone at this point can fill in gaps of stereotypical mishaps in Nigerian interactions.
But questions must be asked as to the honesties behind said characters. Something must be examined to the delight derived from turning ourselves into caricatures for viewing pleasure. Many upcoming entertainers have launched into new levels of fame due to their ability to mimic “Nigerianisms”, but often these attempts prove reductive and demeaning to the demographic being displayed. The point of comedy is to elicit laughter, but the point of art – even comic art, especially on a platform as big and unseen as this – could have taken some opportunity to give some nuance to these caricatures. See for instance Zainab Balogun’s character who plays the rattled wedding planner. For most of the movie, the camera is best served directed towards her body movements than her exaggerated facial expressions, but the moment she does a 360 and gets on her knees, Yoruba girl style, she transforms into something more sublime and screen worthy. Imagine if more characters in the movie were given a few lines so atypical. Now that would be as marvellous as it was unexpected.
Still great credit must be given to the screenwriting which blended so well with the narrative, the movie disappeared and it seemed as if Nigerians were simply watching themselves interact. So unapologetic is the “Nigerianness” of The Wedding Party, utmost respect must be given to the team for being unafraid to make a movie for their home audience, instead of the more than recent slew of releases attempting to duplicate Hollywood logic into contemporary Nigeria. In literary spaces, the arguments have been made for both sides regarding how much watering down is required of writers from smaller markets. Nollywood is a top three movie market, it is about time our big budget releases are as Nigerian as they come. Proof of success lays in the films reception when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
Nobody left the cinema dissatisfied. The movie did not require feats of technical peacocking and the expertise for the storyline serves adequately. No more about that. The soundtrack is a decent selection of Afrobeats chart toppers.
Of the wonderful ensemble, Ms Sola Sobowale is the undisputed champion of the movie. So electric are her eyes and jerks, she kept up the consistent entertainment value turning it up and down as needed. There is a wonderful cameo from Emma Oh My God, particularly his dance felicitations to the Jesu Jo track at the end. Somekele Iyamah, inarguably this year’s breakout star, has a memorable turn giving Beverly Naya’s character a good dose of punishment. And Ireti Doyle and Richard Mofe Damijo remain as consistently glamorous and representative of grace and peak Nollywood royalty. Banky Wellington has some good turns and there is a spectacular moment when the token White character orders 2 wraps of Amala, Ewdeu, Gbegiri, Shaki and roundabout. Look out for what she does next.
The Wedding Party is a good way to disappear into a screen that isn’t your phone or iPad and, laugh and perhaps for a minute, reflect on the glory and insanity of what it means to be a living, breathing Nigerian who has to wake up and deal with people like yourself every day. Sit back and have a good chuckle.
From the Sodas ‘N’ Popcorn Hq, The Wedding Party earns a well deserved Popcorn and Soda.
This review was written by Alithnayn Abdulkareem