By Willfred Okiche
You have waited long enough, you have seen the pictures from the glittering premieres (in and out of the country), you have heard the tales of the fantastic box-office performance but surprisingly little has been said about the movie itself. High time we corrected that.
At this point, a synopsis of the film would be appropriate but its absence here is not for lack of trying. The film is titled ‘’The Return of Jenifa’’, perhaps a more appropriate name should have been “The Continuing Adventures of Jenifa” -or something along that line because that is the feeling one gets after sitting through this. It plays like a collection of comic skits, fragmented, disjointed at times but always hilarious. Suffice it to say that our heroine is still on her endless quest to “belong” and and is still ready to do just about anything to achieve that elusive Bigz gez status.
Funke Akindele in the titular role is faultless; it has to be the role she was born to play. She brings on the character so strongly that anytime she is off screen, the film tends to lag. Other supporting acts hold their own but the film is Funke’s or Jenifa’s and she runs with it- again. Her character seems to be the only one developed roundly for the film
Everybody loves a winner, and so do the stars as they turn out in their numbers to support Ms Akindele but do not get all hot and bothered just yet, it is more gloss than substance. Some show up too briefly to make a difference (Wizkid, Banky W, Sasha), some stay long enough but make no difference (Eldee, Denrele) while there are a few pleasant surprises (Helen Paul, Rukky Sanda). There are also solid performances from returnees Eniola Badmus (gbogbo big girls) and Yinka Quadri as well as a strong turn from veteran Antar Laniyan.
A few loose ends are tied up from the last sequel (the not so funny Jenifa 2) but the producers were not about to let fidelity stop them from spinning another delicious yarn. They conveniently gloss over the parts that do not blend with their new vision (saying more would be giving the end away) and give us more Jenifa in her prime, after all there is nothing funny about disease. Also the dance scenes were one too many. We realized Jenifa is a great dancer after the first face off with arch rival Shakira back in Aiyetoro.
One item the movie lacks and which turned out to be it’s greatest undoing is subtlety. Both in it’s service to humanity and it’s gratitude to sponsors. While we always welcome a good morality tale, the slap-in-the-face nature of this one was hurting. Less is more we insist. And dancehall queen Kaffy is one to preach to us about safe sex. Enough said!
The product placements were a lesson in how not to advertise shamelessly in a motion picture. The Globacom and Fashola endorsements were painful to sit through and the toothpaste and soap plug-ins were just tacky and uncalled for. They ruined an otherwise pleasurable experience.
Still this is a movie to watch, if only for the sheer comic brilliance of Miss Akindele. It aims for no higher forms of art (the picture quality is not even suitable for the cinemas) but strives only to teach a lesson and make you laugh out loud. In doing so Funke and crew have succeeded but the whole experience will play a lot better in the comfort of your homes, remote control in hand, finger on the fast-forward button- for when the bill paying commences.