Reviewer: Ese Esosa
It was inevitable that a sequel to last year’s “The Wedding Party” would eventually be made. The indicators were pretty obvious; despite a clichéd and uninspired script and being, for the most part, chuck-full of insipid hysterics passed off as acting and cheap gags and laughs from the patented brand of Nigerian comedy (that’s big on silliness than actual comedy), it achieved huge box office success. It even dethroned the off-putting one-unfunny-joke-pony-stretched-to-a-feature-movie length “30 days in Atlanta” as the highest grossing Nigerian movie. Then, there is the fact that this is Nollywood where sequels are more the norm than the exception.
So, what do you with the sequel to a Nollywood movie about a society wedding and the shenanigans associated with it? You do what Nigerian elitist purveyors of society weddings do in real life to set themselves apart from the plebeians; you make it a destination wedding!
As in a real-life destination wedding where the wedding is more about the destination than the relationship of the couple, pretty much from the get go, you get the sense that not much thought was deployed to flesh out the relationship between Nonso Onwuka and Deidre Winston or even a backstory perspective.
The opening scene pretty much zooms from Lagos to London and lands us in Dubai where the couple is out to dinner in a swanky upscale restaurant. Continuing with the awe and shock that questions the supposed elitist status of some of the key characters in “The Wedding Party”, Nonso acts gob smacked by the opulence of the restaurant.
A perfunctory proposal gone wrong transitions into a clichéd surprise but unintended proposal and sets up the premise of this insipid sequel. From here on out, hilarity was intended but nothing truly hilarious was achieved.
What ensues is a slew of unfunny comedy skits featuring cameos from the usual suspects of the Nigerian comedy industry interspersed with gratingly loud and clichéd performances from Nollywood stereotypes.
Where “The Wedding Party” at least puts in an effort to give some impressive breakout performances, “Destination Dubai” made no pretense about creating a level playing field of absolutely no stand out performance.
The movie was riddled with the usual tropes; grating histrionics, trademark over-acting, unintelligent/unfunny portrayal of stereotypes and a canny perception of the patently unfunny comedy that the average Nigerian audience finds hilariously funny.
As in “The Wedding Party”, Ali Baba appeared not to have received the memo that his character, Chief Coker, is supposed to be a Millionaire (possibly Billionaire) oil magnate and not a caricature of his comic persona. It was grating watching him portray a supposed oil magnate like a version of Frank Doga’s Harrison dressed in more expensive threads.
As Chief Onwuka, the only thing remotely Igbo about Richard Mofe-Damijo’s portrayal of the character is his Igbo name and costume. Ireti Doyle again nailed her ice queen and uppity Obianuju Onwuka but it would be nice to see her portray a non-ice queen and uppity character someday.
Sola Sobowale as usual over acted her Tinuade Coker but in one scene provided the movie’s only truly endearing emotional moment. Real life couple and stars of “The Wedding Party”, Adesuwa and Bankole Wellington’s Dunni and Dozie were reduced to mere bit players with nothing meaningful to contribute.
As the movie’s central focus, Enyinna Nwige’s and Daniella Down’s Nonso and Deidre could not save this floundering sequel’s pointlessness. Whilst they shared a believable chemistry (more thanks to Brown’s endearing and charming naiveté), they lacked the pull of the Wellingtons’ Dunni and Dozie (more thanks to Etomi’s intensity and passion) in The Wedding Party.
Patience Ozokwor’s gratingly annoying Ada Onwuka should have been left out of the movie as should have Saka’s, chigurl’s, Elenu’s, Seyi Law’s and most especially, Ay’s lackluster and utterly pointless cameos.
“Destination Dubai” was an expensive but pointless sequel. Unlike its predecessor, it was unable to parlay a basic and uninspired script into a mildly watchable movie. Much like destination weddings, it was more about flash than substance. If both movies were to be a couple, the floundering pointlessness of the sequel would be a certifiable ground for divorce.
By Ese Esosa