Something is happening in the Nigerian social media space – the rise and rise of influencers. Many public relations experts dislike that tag and everything they stand for. And in truth, many of these so-called big-time social media influencers are without substance, they are poor with public relations and they post the emptiest things. But guess what, they are hugely popular. A little over a week ago, someone asked for suggestions from people of individuals who are amazing public relations specialists and 99% of the names suggested were of these bare-barreled influencers.
Chief Daddy, the EbonyLife Films temporary replacement for the Wellingtons special – The Wedding Party, premiered late last year and spent months breaking records before Kemi Adetiba‘s effort – King of Boys – came to share the cinema spoils.
This film features almost every human in Nollywood. That would be the first attempt by the producers to make up for what they knew would be a tedious and uninspiring film. If there’s anything we have learnt from EbonyLife Films through their works in the past few years, it would be their preference for gloss over substance and shattering of financial records over filmmaking masterpieces. Of course, show me a forward-thinking producer who does not want to make money. The aim after all, of commercial investment, should be to at the very least, break even. However, one of the most noticeable garments EbonyLife now unapologetically wear is a total lack of interest in being daring with their films. And Chief Daddy is even worse in this regard.
The film tells the story of Chief Beecroft (Chief Daddy) whose death suddenly throws in the air his mostly sexual indiscretions and who has gone to great lengths to ensure that his misdeeds are forgiven long enough for his family to give him a befitting burial. It stars Taiwo Obileye, Joke Silva, Folarin Falana (Falz), Funke Akindele, Kate Henshaw, Zainab Balogun, Nkem Owoh, Patience Ozokwor, Nedu, Chigul, Richard Mofe Damijo, Dakore Egbuson, Ini Edo, Linda Ejiofor, Bisola Aiyeola, Mawuli Gavor, Beverly Naya, Shaffy Bello, Lepacious Bose, Mawuli Gavor, Uti Nwachukwu and many others.
It is a pot of soup containing almost every kind of seafood and edible animal. Nothing more. The soup is bland and tastes like nothing that should be lined up on a restaurant queue for. And because of how badly this pot of soup was prepared, it also isn’t worth it, to pick a random seafood and run. You may just be escaping with the part overrun by salt.
The makers refer to this film as a comedy but there are many cases where hair-pulling could be attempted by the viewer. In one scene, it was so obvious, painfully obvious because it was so poorly executed, that Niyi Akinmolayan had directed the actors seated at the table to sharply turn their heads towards the main door after a knock is heard. This technique is a common direction for the stage where acting is expected to be greatly exaggerated. The only times it is passable for the screen is when slapstick is being made. And despite the attempt to make Chief Daddy hilarity in motion picture form, moments that would genuinely pull a giggle out of you are too far and few in between for it to be peacefully placed under that genre.
This is not to say there were not individual instances of brilliance. Of course, good actors will almost always be good actors. Nkem Owoh who plays Chauffeur Donatus is one. Joke Silva (Lady Kay Beecroft) is another. Even the young Zainab Balogun (Ireti Beecroft) brings some brilliance with her. But a stand-out bad in this blue sea of bad is Linda Ejiofor (Justina). She has found a way of reciting her lines as if haphazardly reading through a poem. She was way better in The Meeting but has since hit a decline when her career should have really kicked off. Funke Akindele, Kate Henshaw and Falz are too loud to be taken seriously for what this film tells us they are: children of a multibillionaire.
Chief Daddy is filled with unnecessaries, pictures that are crisp but tell meagre stories and a confusion of what is neither a comedy or slapstick. This film, in all, is a random post from “New Nollywood” influencers – EbonyLife Films – a movie equivalent of a “will you slap me for $1,000,000” Twitter post from an influencer that ends up having loads of engagement because it is a reflection of the society we live in today: glib and torpid.