Movie: “A Naija Christmas”
Released date: December 16
Reviewer: Taiwo Adeniyi
Runtime: 2 hours, 1 minute
Producer: Kunle Afolayan
Director: Kunle Afolayan
“A Naija Christmas” is a movie with a talented cast. Released on Thursday on Netflix, it tells a typical Christmas story embedded with romance and rivalry.
It does not only show Nigerians’ craze for the festive season, but also tells the story of what Christmas looks like in a typical ghetto in Nigeria. It shows why Christmas, to most Nigerians, is one season that is held in high esteem.
This is another resounding work from Kunle Afolayan who had earlier dazzled with “Swallow” which was also released this year on Netflix. Kunle Afolayan, as the producer and director, did well in getting the best out of the stars as he continues his subtle but sombre rise in the movie industry. He is one of Nigeria’s finest movie producers with unscathed eyes for detail; and this year has been “good” to him.
Kemi Adesoye, an award-winning writer obviously made Kunle Afolayan’s job easier. Kemi Adesoye also wrote “Phone Swap” and “Figurine” and other top-notch movies.
Kunle Remi, Abayomi Alvin and Efa Iwara are brothers who must save their mother, played by the quintessential Rachel Oniga, who died before the movie was released, from scorn and sickness by bringing a lady home by Christmas. She dangles a family heirloom as a gift for the first person to fulfil her wish by getting married. The brothers’ race to outwit one another but to succeed not only will they have to find the right lady; they have to go through their mother who has to be convinced that she is the right person.
Ugochukwu Agu (Kunle Remi) is a music producer and Casanova who believes he is entitled to the heirloom as the first son. But his attempts to win the prize only aggravate Madam Agatha Agu’s (Rachel Oniga) deteriorating health. All his club girls fail the test and are stuck with a church girl and the leader of the church’s music department. While Ugochukwu races against time to take the church lead vocalist home, Sister Ajike (played by Segilola Ogidan), his brother, Efa Iwara, faces a dilemma of choosing between an overbearing “user” colleague, Vera (Linda Osifo), and the girlfriend of a gangster loan-shark played by Ade Laoye. The last of the trio, Abayomi Alvin, is in a more complicated relationship with a married woman and member of the church, Mrs Samantha Bliss (Mercy Johnson Okojie), who he had thought would leave her estranged husband for him. As the Agu brothers attempt to untwine themselves from their tangled relationships, they get into deeper clutter with themselves; making their mother and those around them bear the brunt of their excesses.
In this movie are inadvertent hilarious moments which add colour to the movie. While the costumes are exceptional and the production commendable the soundtracks and music add glints to the Christmas story the movie tells. The sounds tell Nigerian Christmas stories from churches to the streets. What other way to tell a ghetto Christmas story in Mushin without fuji? There is something cheering for fuji fans with the cameo of Nigerian Fuji maestro, Wasiu Ayinde Pasuma, who gave a beautiful rendition of Christmas carol in the ghetto.
The movie could have done more in utilising the theme, talents and tunes at its disposal and sodaandpopcorn.com in its review said, “A Naija Christmas is by no means a great story, but the filming technique does kind of undermine what should have been a better film. The combination of being a Christmas film, and one that espouses romance, handed it a lot of material out there; and the flaw isn’t that it doesn’t use them; it’s that it finds itself with opportunities to. For all the talk of how movies can sometimes be a touch too predictable, it’s ironic that A Naija Christmas misses by not quite being cliched enough, especially with the dialogue and character interaction.”
Cast: Rachel Oniga, Kunle Remi, Segilola Ogidan, Efa Iwara, Linda Osifo, Abayomi Alvin, Mercy Johnson Okojie, Ade Laoye, Carol King, Leteef Adedimeji, Uzoamaka Anuinoh, Jude Chukwuka