by Wilfred Okiche
The brothers, Lanre and Dare Fasasi, after spending more than a decade as 2 of pop music’s most consistent acts, turn their sights to filmmaking with Head gone, a star studded slapstick comedy that is big on promise but small on delivery. From their Naija Ninja production stable, Head gone is produced by Lanre (Sound Sultan) and directed by Dare Fasasi (Baba Dee).
It isn’t so much a credible, coherent film as it is a weird mishmash of events, people and actions- both sane and insane that finds it footing in many ways but still loses a lot of its punch. Head gone may well have been better received and definitely would have seemed more of a novel idea had it not come so soon after AY Makun’s funnier 30 Days in Atlanta.
In some ways- the depth of performances, the attempt at creating an organic plot that flows towards some sort of conclusion, the directing,- Head gone is a better film than 30 Days in Atlanta. But in other ways- the erratic editing, tacky scene changes, dubious overacting and lesser laugh a minute opportunities, it is the inferior film.
A shifty medical officer, his clueless nurse (Eniola Badmus) and hopeless staff driver (Sunday Omobolanle) are on their way to a secondary tier psychiatric centre with a bus load of patients suffering from one mental condition or the other. They make a careless decision and somehow, the bus is left unattended to and the patients; among whom are a dangerous schizophrenic, an obsessive compulsive, and a retired army officer suffering from delusions of grandeur make a beeline for freedom, mixing freely with the general populace.
To cover up this scandal, the health workers fill up the bus with as many people as they can pick up on the way- both sane and insane,- and cause far reaching repercussions upon arrival at their destination.
The film makes an attempt to follow through on some of the escapees as they are involved in various madcap encounters. Throw into the mix, IK Osakioduwa playing the least convincing doctor ever put on film. Impressed by an elder colleague whose skills he is about to benefit from, Osakioduwa gushes to a nurse “He has done so much for the industry.” Nowhere in the world would a doctor ever refer to the profession as an industry.
There is also the sub-plot of some prison warders who are ferrying a hardened criminal to a secure location but somehow lose control of their prized possession. And a tangential scene where Sound Sultan appears in a cameo.
All the comic skits somehow add up to a whole that is not quite palatable. The end product is made more bearable by the sheer wattage of stars present to light up or chew up scenery as the case may be. Of all the heavyweights present, no one chews up scenery better than comedian Akpororo, who plays a compulsive thief shepherded into a mental institution. He overplays every facial tic, exaggerates every walk in order to milk the last laugh from the audience. His style works initially but quickly begins to drag.
Other players stay in their own lanes and play off each other smartly. The story comes to a sort of climax where secrets become open and the bad guys get their just desserts. There are no good guys in this meddlesome mix but there is an ending that hints ever so slightly of a sequel.
As long as the laughs come harder and faster in the inevitable sequel than they do here, then there may be redemption yet for this property.
– The writer tweets from @drwill20