In 2016, The ELFIKE Film Collective brought “The Wedding Party” to cinemas.
The comedy film, which is currently the highest grossing Nollywood movie ever now has a sequel titled “The Wedding Party: Destination Dubai”.
A meme generator, a festival success and a box office hit, the influence of the first film has stretched to almost every wedding-themed film made in the last one year.
In “The Wedding Party” sequel, Nonso (Enyinna Nwigwe) is in a relationship with Deirdre (Daniella Down), the bridesmaid from London.
Somehow, Nonso manages to propose by accident while on a dinner date, setting off a chain of dramatic events. Deirdre’s upper-crust British family and some members of Nonso’s family are against the relationship.
After a near-disastrous introduction ceremony in Lagos, both families reluctantly agree to a wedding in Dubai, starting off another beautiful and glamorous journey to a love story filled with larger-than-life characters and comical scenes.
The sequel also lets us in on the lives of all other characters since we last saw them.
With the announcement of a sequel came these questions: “Do we need a sequel?” “Will it be better than the first?“
The sequel doesn’t try to be better than its prequel. The cast and crew simply come together to create a genuine feel-good entertainment. It’s distinct from its predecessor. It’s beautiful and warm on its own.
Nonso and Deidre’s love story works because we get to follow their journey and growth unlike the previous movie. While “The Wedding Party” mainly focused on the events surrounding the union instead of the couple, TWP 2 focuses on a love story. Their problems seem real, offering several heartwarming moments and busting with relatability.
Nwigwe and Down bring to their roles a real sense of sweetness and vulnerability that shows how uneasy it can be to make certain life decisions.
In terms of humour (there is a heavy dose of it), none of the jokes are forced. The substance of laughs that writer Naz Onuzo squeezes in is nothing short of smart. They come in words, actions and silence, and are delivered in a timely fashion.
The film’s dialogue is a representation of the witty and casual conversations people have and offers quite a number of memorable lines.
However, beneath the gags and jokes is a story about two people genuinely in love, about the unnecessary interference of family members, and finally the hassles of inter-cultural marriage.
While the first movie is a pointed celebration of the flamboyant Nigerian wedding culture, its sequel captures the concept of destination weddings, which is not a strange tradition amongst Nigerians.
“The Wedding Party 2” also tries to portray Nigeria and Nigerians in a good light, humorously displacing certain negative perceptions.
The picture is boosted by a perfect selection of songs such as Timi Dakolo’s “Medicine,” Seyi Shay’s “YOLO’ and Kiss Daniels “Sofa.” Also, the sequel is Igbo-centric with Patience Ozokwor, Chiwetalu Agu and surprisingly Frank Donga!
Director Niyi Akinmolayan, who is popular for “The Arbitration” and “Falling,” expertly handles the humour, ensemble cast and picture as a whole. Unlike its predecessor, no character solely owns “The Wedding Party 2.” The director assembles the cast, gives them room to own their respective roles whilst telling a simple, beautiful story.
Ireti Doyle as Obianuju, Banky W as Dozie, Adesua Etomi as Dunni, Shola Sobowale as Tinuade, Ali Baba as Bam Bam, Ikechukwu as Sola, Somkele Idhalama as Yemisi and Frank Donga as Harrison unite to perfectly give the film an entertaining feel, and at same time, offer us a positive view of friendship and family life.
The trailer and behind-the-scenes photos had shown Beverly Naya in Dubai, a decision that seemed like a misfit, considering her role in the prequel. Surprisingly, the actress is spot-on as the seductive Rosie, who is needed to stoke tension.
Staying true to her trademark wit and style, Sola Sobowale retains the energy that made Tinuade Cooker a success in 2016.
Newcomer Patience Ozokwor uses her body and native language to hilariously capture the essence of her cantankerous character, Adanna.
Ikechukwu is interestingly amusing as the incautious friend and then, fixer. There’s also a cameo for Chiwetalu Agu, who is funny, even without his trademark incoherent slangs.
Michael de Pinna as Geoffrey Winston (Deidre’s father) is surprisingly a pleasant and hilarious character. His funniness comes in different forms: sarcasm, wittiness and ignorance.
The characters are subtly and plausibly developed, and just like its prequel, they create a community that eventually envelops the audience.
Seemingly a simple movie, there is nevertheless sophistication in its simplicity. And if “The Wedding Party” returns for a third movie, there’s certainly a story for Sola and Yemisi, albeit a difficult one to pull off.
“The Wedding Party 2” moves along at an impressive pace except when some unnecessary characters are squeezed in the plot.
Despite the partnership with Dubai Tourism, “The Wedding Party 2” avoids distracting product placements. The production designer does a great job of creating a picture of Dubai that is tinged with romance, presenting a charming view of the city.
Save for a forgivable continuity error, “The Wedding Party: Destination Dubai” is a film full of humour and warmth, topped off with impressive performances.
This movie has what it needs to win Nigerians. Ekilife should have an easy festive season, collecting the huge profits that should come from “The Wedding Party2.”
“The Wedding Party: Destination Dubai” opens in cinemas on December 15, 2017.