“Burial Party” – a better title for Mo Abudu’s “Chief Daddy”: An Honest Review

By Uche Agbo

Finally, I was able to see the movie Chief Daddy at the Cinema yesterday, and that puts my mind to rest. This is because for a while now, I have been in different forums defending MO Abudu and her team. I have explained even without seeing the movie that the producer has been able to create a module that has been working for her. This module compels us to see her movies even when we feel it is not cool enough. Today I want to look critical at the creative merits of the movie.

Honestly, I think BURIAL PARTY would have been a better title, but that will mean that after Wedding Party, another kind of party heralds us from the same stable. But that’s what it is really, a burial party.

The film opens with the death of “Chief Daddy”, who when he was alive had series of sexual escapades and gave birth to many children, thereby attracting many women to his life and his household after his death. So the film revolves around the burial process of Chief Daddy and his efforts even in death to unite his family. He left a strict instruction not to read his WILL until after seventy years if there is any form of rancour during his funeral. It then behoves on the family members to remain peaceful throughout the process.

The burial came and went by, with the main wife (Joke Silva) feeling cheated and sidelined by concubines and she bursts out in the middle of the ceremony. This lead to ensuing scene that they all realize their mistakes and all apologise to her. The WILL is read and they all get inheritance that they love. In the midst of celebration, Chief Daddy bankers arrive and infomed them that the company is going for public offer and they will not access the monies until after a certain period of time. That was it – the story I mean.

To be fair, the film, Chief Daddy is just an average film, which in my own opinion should be for Television and has no business in the cinema. Aside individual brilliant performances from Falz whom I have come to respect as an all round entertainer and veteran actor Nkem Owoh, the movie would have ended up being a boring “spectale”. The plotting was badly shaped, partly because the writers seem to be struggling to create enough playing time for all the “stars” on parade.

Most of the actors did well to bring to life characters that are shallow, which as I said earlier, may have been caused by the quest for the writers to create playing time for “stars” rather than giving each character time to develop and blossom. I think the veterans jointly saved the day by playing their best.

Technically, I must commend Niyi Akinmolayan the director, his sound and picture are both beautiful. This proves that he is such a great “tech guy” but he still has more to learn artistically. I think he was able to create a good camera movements and made us watch great images, but the place of drama in the film still leaves us much to be desired. I believe also that Niyi would have done better to create more drama in the scenes where the entire family are seen. Alas, it seems the actors were left to improvise with one trying to literally shout higher than the other.

The ending of the film has an unknown lady walk into Chief Daddy’s compound, sort of a cliffhanger, with the intention for the movie to have a sequel, perphaps Burial Party 2 if that was to be the title, just like we had Wedding Party 2. This ending didn’t really work well, as the audience in the hall I watched, hissed and grumbled. This was so unlike another Nigeria movie that preceeded this one in the cinema – King of Boys by Kemi Adetiba. Her own cliffhanger was met with heraled ovation because it perfectly served the purpose.

For me, Chief Daddy served its purpose too though, it made money for the producer (which I think has become the trademark of the Production House – breaking Box Office records each time). However, I also think it is partly because of the influence of the producer in the industry. If an average producer or a newbie made this movie, he or she probably may not even get a cinema distribution. I think there were many potentials that MO Abudu and her team blew away, and that’s using the massive resources at her disposal to truly do a movie that will meet the hype they put in the publicity. I must commend the team however for having drived a means to make us all see their movies whether they get a good or bad review. Their publicity mechanism is one many producers in Nollywood need to learn from.

I still laughed though a few places. So it’s not entirely bad. You can go see it and judge for yourself too. One fact I do know however is that it doesn’t measure up with the hype that accompanied it.

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