BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
The entire premise of this film falls on its face the moment you realise the two people who disguise could easily have gone as themselves, in their correct genders, and the same discoveries would still have been made.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
The idea that two people can go undercover, especially as members of the opposite sex, isn’t really as shiny as it sounds, well except by Nollywood standards –we haven’t had that concept used to exhaustion just yet. Still, the idea isn’t so bad, especially when you look at the cover and see Nancy Isime looking like a passable male and IK Ogbonna giving you a double take, many thanks to Hakeem ‘Effect’ Onilogbo’s renowned makeup mastery.
But what is the point of this switch? What does it hope to achieve? Just this, and not the ‘what do women want, what do men want’ questions splattered over its synopsis (we all know these questions may never be answered anyway) really gets you curious enough to see this film. All you really want to find out is why two people wake up one morning and decide to go in drag.
When this reason is revealed minutes into the film, it falls so flat, it can’t be salvaged by a pallet knife. Theophilus Vaughn, after three failed marriages, decides to publish a book on human behavior, devising an answer to the age-long questions of what both genders truly want from each other. He assembles six writers to a fancy resort, offers them a juicy ten million naira prize for the winning pair with the brightest idea on how to create content for his project, and sets up a judging panel constituting himself and his friend. The pair of Lambo and Nengi pitches to the panel an idea of getting information while being disguised as members of the opposite sex. The panel is excited, dismisses the others, who frankly don’t seem smart enough to be writers, and sends the winning duo on their way to a university campus, disguised. Through the help of his brother, Roman Vaughn who is a lecturer at the university, Theophilus gets Belinda and Melvin (the new identities of the disguised duo) enrolled as transfer students for a part time research in his department.
From this point on, it is cringe after cringe as the characters make their ‘shocking’ discoveries. There is introduced a subplot of Kate and Russel, two confused university lovers, and Roman and his fiancé who is just days to becoming his boss in the department. While the latter holds some meat, the execution by the actors, Daniel K Daniel and Toyin Abraham is poor and improbable. In truth, nearly all the performances in the film are this way, from Wale Ojo’s as Theophilus to Desmond Elliot as his silly friend. Nancy Isime and IK Ogbonna make a fair attempt with their disguises, but the content of their dialogue hampers whatever greatness could come out of it.
Speaking of content, Disguise is very badly written. Its screenplay, attributed to Patrick K. Nnamani is unintelligent, and pretty much tells us everything we need to be shown. The sound is horrible, going high in places, low in places and totally off in other places. The editing is bad. For up to three scenes, the mouths are out of sync with the sound and this is when you stagger at how a film like this can be considered ready to be seen.
Nothing is impressive here, not the logic or the execution, not the climax or its resolution. For a comedy film, Disguise doesn’t elicit more than yawns and sniggers. Directed by Desmond Elliot based on a story by Inside Out’s Agatha Amata, Disguise hints on the fact that Mr. Elliot’s directing is unreliable and may be needing an overhaul, especially considering the performance of his most recent film, June. One can only hope that his doesn’t become a name that elicits sighs when it is seen on screens in a role of director, because Disguise is clearly a reputation drainer.
Again, this film joins the lot of really bad films being churned out this year. Makes one wonder what is going on with the acclaimed second largest film industry in the world.