by Wilfred Okiche
Emem Isong must be commended for breathing new life into the romantic comedy sub-species of film (and the chick flicks generally). She did not create the genre but she certainly owns it now. Her movies, from “Games Women Play” to “Reloaded” always feature strong women characters and this one is no exception.
As a rom-com, this one succeeds – mostly.It has beautiful women and dashing men cavorting around in choice locations, behaving badly and doing their best to make us laugh. The laughs come fast and hard and even the most stoic viewer is bound to crack a smile at some point.
The picture quality is excellent but sound could have been better. The screenplay starts out beautifully, then switches from good to bad, back to good again and ends pretty badly. The dialogue between the actors, especially the leads is witty and engaging but then it begins to take itself too seriously, tries too hard to impress, and in the process veers off into parody.
The casting gets it right with the choice of leads; Monalisa Chinda is fantastic as the Ice Queen with a soft core within. Her body language screams “I do not hook up” but all she really wants is the right man, to fall deeply in love with. And she is saying that silently. Joseph Benjamin (Tango With Me) plays the smooth talking lothario so effortlessly, it does not seem like he is acting.
The sub-leads are not quite as stellar though. Desmond Elliot seems to be more pre-occupied with directing and does not seem to fit in. Uche Jombo is the queen of the supporting roles but perhaps she should stick with the dramatic acting as it suits her style better, plus she does tend to over act. But the biggest crime was casting Nse Ikpe Etim – an actress tragically underused since her re-entrance into the industry – as the best friend. She was a revelation in ‘Reloaded” and was the life and soul of “Guilty Pleasures”, proving she could carry a movie. Her talent far eclipses the poor choices of roles she has taken on since then, this one inclusive. It seems Nollywood hasn’t figured out what to do with her yet.
Character development was lacking. The writers seemed to hijack a combination of roles from previous movies and the unfortunate result leaves you with a nagging feeling that you have come across these characters before, making it difficult establishing connection with them. A movie is – and should be – more than the sum of it’s popular names or faces.
The producers could not resist the monetary temptation of splitting the movie into two parts upon DVD release and therein lies it’s biggest flop. About an hour in, it drifts off, with a lot of filler scenes and you lose interest such that by the time the scene with the Scarface poster comes on, you almost wish you were watching that classic instead.
The way the leads built their chemistry, eyeballing each other and talking about getting down and dirty, having wild, freaky sex got us all expectant with excitement but the actual act itself was a fizzle, just two shadows simulating action, and not even in the good way. Major turn off. The sub-plot with the gospel singer was underdeveloped and should have been left off in the first place.
Kiss & Tell succeeds in it’s purpose. Genuinely funny, it works as a no-brainer feel good movie. Expecting something more would be akin to hoping Paris Hilton wins an Oscar in 2012.