BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
Rose Chinda’s five children are all grown up and about their lives. But being a widow and mostly alone in her Port Harcourt home, she preoccupies herself every morning by calling each one of them and saying a prayer for them. Her only son, Chijioke, thinks his mother overdoes this thing, so he hardly responds, as he goes about his work life in Lagos. Then his colleague loses his mother, and this is an awakening moment for him to appreciate his while she still lives. He gets his annual leave and takes a trip to Port Harcourt to spend it with her.
Rose, who is naturally protective of Chijioke because he is her only son, is more than glad to have him with her, and spoils him like a kid, until he meets and falls in love with Boma. Rose is jealous of their new relationship, and this automatically puts a strain on the three relationships. Ultimately, love wins.
The story employs simplicity in its telling, a simplicity that is threatened when it attempts to flow out of course and venture into Rita Chinda’s not-so-believable acting career. Liz Benson Ameye as Rose is superb, giving a hilarious and highly relatable performance. Her mannerisms are spot on, down to the tiniest detail, and even in places where she overdoes it, you can’t seem to hold it against her. With Daniel K Daniel who plays Chijioke, they create good chemistry and make this film work. The Nigerian audience can easily relate to this story irrespective of their gender, age or status, because this is how the typical religious Nigerian mother behaves, and they most likely would also find a reflection of themselves in Chijioke or in Boma who struggles with weaning a would-be lover off his mother’s breast. Boma is played by Wendy Elenwo, stiff at the beginning, but easing into it eventually, not allowing herself be overshadowed by the star power of her costars. The movie also features Emmanuel Ilemobayo, whose acting is surprisingly horrible here; Gina Castel, to mention a few. Many of the supporting actors do not give convincing performances, and douse some of the excitement that could have been.
Mummy Dearest suffers from a rather shaky resolution, a deviation from its glowing promise at the beginning. Perhaps this is because it attempts to leave a window for a sequel, which has now been released, three years after. Still, it manages to achieve some of its intent, creating the ‘aww’ effect and longing to reach out to mothers everywhere. It is preachy and loud in places, but we get its point.
Mummy Dearest is poised to become a franchise. Unless there is a fresh perspective, most preferably away from the Chindas to some other family, it might become monotonous, but we wait, our fingers twiddling in anticipation.
A 2015 film written, produced and directed by Willis Ikedum, Mummy Dearest does an acceptable job of telling its story. It staggers a bit, but regains its balance and gifts its viewers giggles and nostalgia.