the wedding party

THE WEDDING PARTY ROCKS; ITS PREMISE DOES NOT

Posted on Posted in Movie Critiques

The Wedding Party is an exciting and pleasurable movie that makes use of a considerable dose of Cause and Effect entirely.

It is, no doubt, one of the top-ranking movies in Nollywood today, and in so many ways, even the very best. The humor, sarcasm, tension and conflict are present, and makes for an extremely interesting and entertaining watch.

It somewhat feels like there aren’t many abysmal flaws in this movie, and so this critique won’t be highlighting any, but focusing only on what makes this filmmaker’s movie tick.

Nah. Just kidding. Let’s give it a shot!

THEME:

This filmmaker is quite ambitious in her exploration of theme with her movie. There is the theme of Marriage & Infidelity, Love, Societal Class Clash, Cultural Clash, and Friendship. The beauty about this truck-load of major themes is how they all play an important contributing role in the universal theme of Naija Wedding. What happens on scene and behind the scenes? This movie answers a great deal.

Naija Wedding: The movie starts at the point where the bride, groom, their families, friends and the hired are preparing for the wedding starting in just a few hours; there’s no doubt that a lot of tension would go down here, and The Wedding Party gives us a peek into what that’s like. There’s something for everyone in the audience to relate to: the disappointing messengers, reminiscence about the past, the groom’s ex reappearance, the age-grade jokes and concerns, and the eventual wedding reception brouhaha.

Marriage and Infidelity: At the brink of the actual wedding ceremony, secrets are revealed to the audience. There’s the married couple (the groom’s parents) living a hell of a marriage, with the husband giving in to cheating with a younger lady. We also discover that this might be a hereditary trait, as Dozie, the groom, is found to be in the same shoes. His mother says it, his friends guffaw about it, and we see it when his ex comes around trying to seduce him. This brings a kind of tension that maybe, just maybe Dozie isn’t and won’t be faithful. Then we see the red panties that heightens the stakes.

Love: In as much as it very well is the foundation of this entire movie, it unfortunately doesn’t shine through as it should. Ideally, we are to see it in various other forms apart from vocal declarations of groom to bride, and vice versa. Yes, there’s this look in the bride’s eyes but it seems more like finally-getting-married than I-can’t-believe-it’s-you. The groom? Totally aloof, and looks like he’s begging to get out of a mess most times than anything else. The bride, in turn, is more naïve than she tries to prove not, so it’s not clear this is love, but will pass.

Societal Class Clash: Apart from it being a groom’s family versus bride’s family tug, there are no clear observations of this theme between the bride and groom themselves. In this movie, the groom seems almost unaware of the average background the bride comes from. He might not care about whether she’s average class or not, but he needs to address this aspect somehow. Even the bride doesn’t seem to be aware of her own status either! Complaining about the kpanla fish doesn’t really work here for effect; some filthy rich people prefer extremely local food to continental dishes anyway.

That said, what a racket between the mother-in-laws! It is also common practice that the less rich would want to prove to the richer that they are up to the task, and the way it plays out in this movie is very satisfying.

Cultural Clash: It is tactfully observed between both families, as they are Igbo and Yoruba. The most hilarious aspect of this would be the Efik dancers that the bride’s mother hires to dance for her in-laws, only for the groom’s mother to confirm that the dancers aren’t her tribe.

Another aspect of cultural clash which this filmmaker examines but in a rather contrived manner is the bride’s Caucasian friend from UK (or wherever). In as much as she illuminates the idea that some white people do fancy Nigerian culture and food, it sadly doesn’t progress the plot in any way, and her character lacks proper development.

Friendship: What are the bride and groom without their friends to function as groomsmen and bridesmaids? They play together, look out for each other’s back, and do stuff that friends do. What’s really accurate about this theme is with how the boys play rough (God help Sola), and how the girls play gentle and naughty (that Yemisi babe!). All stories don’t go the same way, but it would be nice to see a backbiting bitch amongst the girlfriends. 8/10

PLOT

The application of Cause and Effect technique is easily observable in this movie. Certain things happen as a Cause and we see the Effect of this Cause along the line. While this is brilliant and deserving of praise, it would be nicer to go all out with this technique, allowing all Causes to have proper Effects. This would also allow the story sit more tightly, and be less all-over-the-place.

It also appears like the major story, of bride and groom swearing an oat of celibacy, isn’t always enhanced by certain of these cause-and-effects, despite the flavor they bring. To make this clearer, a few of the cause-and-effects AS THEY PROGRESS THE MAJOR PLOT can be seen below:

SOME REALLY GOOD CAUSE AND EFFECT
CAUSE EFFECT
A lay-about hoodlum gets hold of a wedding invite (or gate pass?) He appears in the wedding to steal/ Has no proper idea about keeping hostages/uses a fake gun for robbery.
Stupid Sola brandishes a secret flash-drive with a naughty video He mistakenly allows it get played at the wedding for all and sundry / Bride sees it and is distraught/ Helps bride and groom tackle it at beach.
Dozie’s EX seduces him in his room. The bride finds a red pantie on him/ Ex boasts to Bride that she had her man that same day/She fails in the end.
Bride’s mum refuses to dance, groom comes begging. Bride is exposed to the humiliation of groom’s ex and her friends in absence of groom.

 

SOME PASSABLE CAUSE AND EFFECT
CAUSE EFFECT
The best man is involved in an accident. The ex, his sister, has to bring his suit and the rings for another to try.
The biker trips and spills the wedding invite (or gate pass?) He picks them up, but unknowingly leaves one on the ground, and continues his journey.
Groom’s dad appears to have a certain “Small Chops” that keeps bugging. Small Chops appears at the wedding, trying to cause some havoc
Groom’s dad prefers the groom to his brother, for no visible reason (or is it because it’s Banky W?, plus, this doesn’t even affect the major plot!) Brother proves to dad that he’s up to the task by standing up for him when Small Chops tries to disgrace him, and taking down the thief.
The many embarrassing references to the Kpanla Stew. Happens to surprisingly be the favorite meal at the party.

 

SOME CAUSES WITH LITTLE OR NO EFFECT
CAUSE EFFECT
The wedding banner that was picked apart by the bridesmaids/ The ripped wedding dress that wasn’t fixed because it wasn’t that bad? Doesn’t affect the wedding in any way / She comes late to the service, but no real tension from groom before bride’s arrival.
The driver’s comical behavior/ The CD he advertises. Doesn’t heighten any stakes/ Isn’t used at the wedding reception for even a little bit.
The wedding planner complaint of food getting finished/ Nobody visibly complains they haven’t eaten/
The wedding planner changes from Queen’s English to concentrated Yoruba. The woman she’s speaking to is surprised. No one else is, and it doesn’t change or improve her service.
Pick-pockets stealing phones everywhere. Only a random person (and not a major character who really needed his phone to solve the issue at hand) raises an alarm of a missing phone.

 

SOME EFFECTS WITH NO CAUSE
CAUSE EFFECT
We are busy following the characters going for their wedding, then… …all of a sudden Dozie’s brother is the black-ship of the family who is about to mess up his father’s business.
The audience were busy following the plot, when… …some comical and exaggerated gate crashers are seen in the movie, later caught by the security men and brought to the wedding planner?
Bride leaves party empty handed, and grabs someone else’s taxi, only for her to… …later be able to be at the beach without any form of payment hassle with the taxi man.
Bride makes her way to the beach, and… …already has a bonfire waiting for her, or already set up a bonfire. Seriously?

 

On a more general note, the plot could have been better developed and with a proper handling of the few sub-plots it sought to explore.

In any case, the movie appears to be structurally sound. Just a little all-over-the-place. 6/10

CHARACTER

The best aspect of this movie’s characterization is the fact that all major and supporting characters are introduced in one way or another in the first 20 minutes, or even less. We get to work with these characters till the very end, and so following the story becomes really easy. However, this technique would have very well paid off if so many minor characters were just left as extras, with no lines to say. Better still, so many character roles could have been given to the major characters for a more rounding effect.

Another thing that is really worrying is the identification of the protagonist and the antagonist. It appears, in The Wedding Party that there are two protagonists and two antagonists: The Bride and her mother functioning as two different protagonists, and the groom’s mother and Dozie’s ex serving as two antagonists.

It feels this way with the protagonist because the Bride’s mother seems to really steal the show always, driving the action of her own story. The bride, on the other hand, fails to really drive her own story, and appears to be the one constantly placed in a mess by circumstances beyond her control. This invariably calls for two complementary antagonists: the antagonist for the docile bride, and one for the active mom.

The movie clearly states that this is about the bride and groom, but it turns out to be actually about the mother-in-laws; one of the bridesmaids even states it that it’s the parents’ wedding.

It’s no crime to have more than one protagonist. After all, it’s been done in many fine movies: Horrible Bosses (2011), for example. However, even ensemble movies do have rules; you do not state it in your logline that the movie is about love between two people, when it really is about more people.

It then appears that the foundational premise of this movie lacks proper focus, and unfortunately affects the way this story is being told.

Dozie himself is a disappointing character. Not because he’s been a philanderer, but because he lacks heart. The same can be said about his brother, and this is so because there aren’t different dimensions to these characters. They are flat and highly predictable.

Yes, the white bridesmaid shocks everyone at the wedding reception table as she orders Amala, but this seems too contrived. Perhaps, her character should have been made to do something more important for the major story than being disconnectedly in existence to prove a point that does nothing for the major plot.

AY, and Saka. Yes, they are stars, alongside Banky W, but I’m afraid they all do not make the story better in any way.

The Apostle that prays at the wedding, innocently highlighting faults of basically everyone at the party, seems uncalled for, especially as he’s a new disconnected character. Somehow, I thought he was the thief in disguise; typical of me to think. And I was really disappointed to discover that he’s in fact, another person.

The wedding planner, being given a major role that doesn’t touch on the major story? This is also another reason there are two protagonists and two antagonists!

One would wonder why Small Chops and Dozie’s Ex, Susie, cannot be one and the same, and also a friend to the bride, for tension’s sake.

One would also wonder why the white bridesmaid and Yemisi cannot be one and the same, for character development sake.

In places of groups, too many characters are on screen and have important lines to say. This is a little too much for the audience, as some might find it difficult following the story, as each character brings up different almost unrelated topics, as can be seen in the first act of the movie.

If not for the impressive performance of a number of these characters and the very relatable concepts explored in this movie, I wonder what The Wedding Party would look like. 5/10

DIALOGUE

The dialogue is pretty good in many areas. Although, a little contrived and forced in some other areas, like Groom’s mom’s word-porn with the word “bomb” and other occasional utterances, though still good and relevant. Another progressive utterance with the use of word-porn is when she also says:

“the only person that has been kidnapped here is my son, by your daughter”.

A few dialogues from others could have been shortened to have a lean and mean effect, but it’s fine all the same; a lot of action happens to help make the excessive dialogue pardonable.

Sometimes, the dialogue was absolutely hilarious, like in the gift room where the thief held a number of the characters’ hostage:

Thief: (points gun at Bride’s Mother) Are we expecting anymore guests?

Bride’s Mother: (tries to run out) Let me go and check!

This, also:

Groom’s Father: (Holds thief’s gun) It’s not even a real gun.

And…

Bride’s Dad: We should have even charged them double bride price!

Not to forget the naughty play amongst the bride and bridesmaids.

Other times, it was a confirmation of some strange kind of love:

Grooms Mother: (to thief) The only person allowed to make my husband suffer is me.

Then again, it feels as though some of Dozie’s lines weren’t perfected into the story:

Dozie: (to father in room) Maybe I’m not the one you should be saying this to.

This kind of makes the audience wonder which son else is a player in this movie.

Majority of supposed extras are given lines to say, this is rather distasteful, especially if they aren’t going to be developed further: both moms’ friends, security man, and some others, especially as they do not progress the major plot. 6/10

PACING

The pacing of the wedding party seems really good. Everything moves fast, but not too fast that one cannot follow through. The places that are meant to be slowed down for effect are done moderately.

A few audience members might pause a little to understand what is happening, but that doesn’t seem like a big deal. After all, this movie’s got a whole lot to offer.

The Wedding Party can be described as a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it kind of movie to a reasonable extent, and is a one-of-a-kind Nollywood product.

However, majority of the concepts and characters could have been enhanced to give it the true cinematic effect this filmmaker aims to achieve. 9/10.


The major plot of this movie resembles a sly copy of one of Hollywood’s Black Movie concepts; whatever happened to originality!

As a note worth taking, though, this is the first Nollywood movie in 2016 that I would consider watching the second time. Kudos! 34/50

PERCENTAGE: 68%

GRADE: B+

Isedehi Aigbogun, also known as ISD, is a staunch academic, holding a B.A., M.A., and PhD (in view) in English Language.

She’s a Screenwriter, Screenplay Analyst, Consultant, and Film Scriptic.

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