by Wilfred Okiche
Director Elvis Chuks has made some bad films in his career, (True Citizens) but he has also made one (A Wish) that the kind folks at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA) considered good enough to win Best Comedy at the last outing. Note that Chuks’ ‘A Wish’ beat out the eventual Best Picture winner ‘The Contract’ in the comedy category. But it is not his fault, it tells more on the award organisers that they cannot quite get their winners right. Besides if you are going to insist on awarding someone, the least that person could do is accept it right.
Anyway, back to the matter. Chuks latest film ‘Honeymoon Hotel’ arrives in cinemas at about the same period as his AMVCA win but any spike of expectations that audiences arrive the theatres with is quickly dissipated within the first few frames of ‘Honeymoon Hotel’.
Why? There is barely a film here. A strand of a plot, shoddy acting from a continental cast, a bland screenplay and lazy directing do not constitute a feature film these days. This one does everything in the book to insult its audience and it is as if the producers hope that shooting abroad with some big names will guarantee a great cinematic experience. It is a tragedy that this film got made at all. Nobody comes out of it looking decent. Not the director, not the scriptwriters, not his actors, not madame Joke Silva and not Jacob’s Cross’ Hlomla Dandala.
There is a young couple (IK Ogbonna and Diane Yekini), who are supposed to drive the story. Don’t bother feeling anything for them, they don’t drive anything. Apart from driving you crazy that is. Ogbonna with his very limited acting range and Yekini with her all over the place accent. She cannot quite decide what she wants to sound like. A Nigerian, an American, a Brit, or a weird combination of all three. They must consider themselves in love as they are preparing to tie the knot. Only that their job description when they arrived on set obviously did not include convincing the audience that there is even a dash of chemistry between them. They make no attempt at all. They run into the problems of young love. Mother and father take it upon themselves to mediate. Mother is the iconic Joke Silva and so she brings with her some form of class. And actual acting skills. And good diction. But diction alone cannot save this movie. You almost feel sorry for her. She has done so much to deserve this tripe. And make no mistake, this is tripe.
Where were we? Okay, there is an ex-girlfriend somewhere who saunters into the mix with not a single convincing bone in her body. There is a younger brother and his live-in lover who exist just to show some skin. If you think things haven’t gotten messy enough, there is Mr Dandala and some chick doing God knows what? They must have wandered in from another film. That is the only possible explanation. If you put a gun to their heads, they couldn’t explain their presence here.
But that is not all. Ghana’s Martha Ankomah struts by in a flashback scene. You may know her, she likes to take her clothes off for Frank Rajah-Arase. Hope rises briefly. Sadly she keeps her clothes on. She says a few lines by rote and then disappears forever. You won’t miss her. Beverly Naya is in the mix somewhere. One is still waiting for her to impress. This is not that movie.
There is talk about a hotel in South Africa, where mother and father spent their honeymoon, there is talk about booking the young couple there, there is talk about some one being set up, there is talk about parents meddling, there is a ridiculously untidy resolution, there is punishment for the culprits and then typical Nollywood-style, there is redemption. Don’t ask how all of these happen. Just see for yourself. If you can stomach it.
The lighting is bad, sound is iffy, the story is uninteresting and screenplay shoddy. It is a wonder how this film got made at all. Thankfully, just when you are about to give up, it ends. But you do not leave the hall feeling like you just sat through a movie, the impression is that you just saw a trailer for an upcoming movie. An inert, boring and seemingly endless trailer.
Don’t mark the date.
The writer tweets from @drwill20