BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
I may have taken up a war stance against people who thought The Wedding Party 1 wasn’t all that. I saw this movie three times in cinemas, and still had things to look forward to. The grouse came from folks who thought the plot was weak. I couldn’t disagree more. That the story was told within a day was perhaps what made it even more appealing for me. I came to recognize the main characters’ stories just by the things they did and said on that day and that, for me, is intelligent.
Enter, The Wedding Party 2. We were already hinted on a budding relationship between Deidre Winston, Dunni Coker’s bridesmaid, and Nonso Onwuka, Dozie’s older brother. And so a sequel meant these two were going to have their wedding and all hell was going to break lose.
Nonso and Deidre have dated for six months after meeting at the Dunni Dozie wedding, finding a way to make it work in spite of the distance. They travel together to Dubai and in one swanky restaurant, Nonso proposes by accident and Deidre says yes. They both have to convince not just their families, but themselves, that they are ready to spend their lives together in spite of the brevity of their relationship and the different worlds they come from.
As expected, the issues begin to show up, but we are certain that as long as it is The Wedding Party, in the end the glamorous wedding party will still hold. And it does, with the glamour even shinier and more mouth-watering. The producers take no prisoners in the spending, as is the case in many a destination wedding. Some scenes are even there solely for the purpose of showing off the beautiful city of Dubai. The Wedding Party 2 is showy like that.
The story, perhaps in a bid to remedy the complaints from the first installment, gives a more robust plot with a little too many impediments that seem rather convenient. The seamless accidentalness of the conflicts from the previous film is missing here, and we find the story groping in the dark for conflict, the silliest of them being the one in which AY Makun is involved. You just wish he had stayed as quiet as he had been in the prequel.
As expected, the casting is full. There is every person from every part of the Nigerian entertainment industry represented, from Asaba to comedy. Speaking of comedy, the comedians included seem to be so many it becomes a roll call. It is clear The Wedding Party crew has enough funds to spend giving the Elfike (EbonyLife, FilmOne, Inkblot, Koga) collaboration and the success of the last one, but could they not have made do with a few and given them some real purpose? For example, what is Wofai Fada or Saka or Funny Bone doing in this film? EmmaOhMyGod makes a cameo that is absolutely unnecessary. Even the Wonu character, played by Zainab Balogun, is rendered nearly useless, and Iya Michael has to struggle for a place to fit somewhere between the credits. Patience Ozokwor and Chiwetelu Agu play the ‘village people’, armed with Ibo and melodrama, who try to force in another form of conflict. It’s something about too many cooks spoiling the broth.
The beauty of this installment is how everyone has an equal playing field. Sola Shobowale, who was the star of the first film has little to do, and Ali Baba, who plays Bam Bam says little, while being more unreasonable than he was in the first film, looking more like the joker than Dunni’s oil magnate father and making us wonder if he is still so broke. Felix and Obianuju Onwuka are still portrayed by Richard Mofe-Damijo and Ireti Doyle who look great together. Dunni and Dozie are relegated far into the background, and Sola and Yemisi cozying up to each other in a way that is hinting towards another wedding is a terrible idea. They do not all have to like each other.
Daniella Down and Eyinna Nwigwe are good actors in their own rights, but having their characters’ love story as the centre of this film doesn’t work so well. Their love is unsure, somewhat awkward and feels shallow, devoid of any solid convictions other than collywobbles. You don’t get the sparks from their eyes when they look at each other. The only reason you believe is because they profess it often, not because you see anything.
Mr. Winston on the other hand, portrayed by Michael de Pinna, does a fantastic job of his role and perhaps gets the crown as star of the film. His humor is in his lines, written by Chinaza ‘Naz’ Onuzo. From the moment he is shown, the movie lights up a shade brighter. We are entertained more by his confident naivety than by Harrison (played by Kunle ‘Frank Donga’ Idowu)’s glaring stupidity. The scenes at the airport with Chigul and Seyi Law are some of the few that crack you up without trying too hard.
The scoring and soundtracks are beautiful with delicious Nigerian music to keep the mood upbeat. While the cinematography swells your head, editing and continuity spot glitches. Like the hospital scene where Dunni asks Deidre and Nonso if they shouldn’t be at their wedding. She says this twice and the first part isn’t edited out. The night within which the bachelorette party, intervention and re-proposal happen is way too long and undefined, especially as one moment we find the characters in sleeping robes, the next they’re in full makeup.
One cannot but compare both arms of The Wedding Party film as they both have been cut from the same fabric. The Wedding Party: Destination Dubai, directed by Niyi Akinmolayan, is a more expensive step down from the first part. It would do well in sales because everyone is curious and its ticket is more expensive, but not because it can hold a candle to its predecessor.