BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
Comedy films in the past year were a dime a dozen, and so I watched this film’s trailer with my eyes rolling in 360 degree rotations from the exhaustion its predecessors had caused me. It didn’t help that Chigul was on it, and with Senator, Funnybone and Funky Mallam, the expected list of comedians in the typical Nollywood comedy film was full. Yes, there were other non-comedy names that could get ones interests piqued; Joke Silva, Gbenga Titiloye (a regular feature in Muyiwa Aluko’s films)and Linda Ejiofor, but even at this, one still had to be cynical, and with good reason.
Still, we watched. We cannot but watch, because, as Falz would say, ‘It’s our work o’, and as we watch, we cannot but hope that perhaps this is the one comedy film that’d change our minds, that this is the one that would make all the difference.
Bandits! follows the story of Fred, a man who is down on his luck. He loses his job just when he is about to marry Chisom, the love of his life. His uncle, who is interested in loaning him a huge sum of money to start a business with, dies without warning, and leaves a note and a mere painting for him in his will, one he disappointedly goes to sell on his best friend’s advice, in order to pay his debts. He discovers soon enough that the painting is more than mere, and that he could recover from it a fortune that would change his life forever. He, along with his friends, must do all they can to get the painting back, even if they have to become bandits to get it.
While the story seems engaging as opposed to the typical weak-plotted comedy, the execution is not as strong. Parts of its telling are rushed without a concrete build up, and other parts are dragged to slackness. The acting is generally fair, and the continued ill-luck of its lead character sustains your attention for the most part. The film’s key duo, Senator (Bethel Njoku) and Funnybone (Stanley Chibuna), oscillate between crazy hilarious and downright annoying, and a lot of the turn of events are not slightly convincing. One of such is the scene with the gallery manager when he sees Philomena, Chigul’s character. As though it wasn’t bad enough, the scene lingers on his face for a few more seconds to further point our attention to its flawed implausible acting.
Muyiwa Aluko, who has before now produced and directed films, some of which were hits and others misses, tries his hands on producing and directing in the comedy genre for the first time with Bandits!, and may need to stick to romantic dramas after this, not because he has done a horrible job, but because he has done better in others. The film is written by Damilola Orimogunje.
Did Bandits! change my mind? Not at all. It is an improvement on what was generally obtained in the year, and even while it has some genuinely hilarious moments, it winds up the way others have gone: exaggerated, typical and forgettable.