Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mama, I’d Rather Die Than Watch You Again

Film - Flashback Review - Movie

Movie: Mama I Will Die For You

Starring: Patience Ozokwor, Uche Ndigwe, Ebube Nwagbo, Amaechi Muonagor, Diewait Ikpechukwu, Clemson Cornel Nonyelu

Directed By: Ndubuisi Okoh

Released: 2004

When the issues of poor audio, clueless acting/directing and tiring, hole-filled plots in our movies are raised, Nollywood fans and fanatics alike are always quick to respond to these issues with the sing-song refrain: “It took Hollywood more than a 100 years to get there and we will get there.” When the same old long worn-out themes are continuously recycled for our enjoyment, the chorus then becomes: “Nollywood is a true reflection of our society.”

On the other side of the divide, if you can’t stand uselessly torturous Nollywood movies (like I do) then you are not alone. However, the fierce proponents of Nollywood far outnumber us, its critics and this fanatical multitude is the very reason why bad movies continue to abound.

If indeed most of the themes explored in “Mama I Will Die For You” (and Nollywood in general) are truly reflections of our society, then the mirror in question must possess a scuffed, warped surface. This, most likely, must be the same kind of optical material that may have been used to make spectacles for the entire Production crew of this movie

Mama I Will Die For You (or MIWD4U, if you like) is a 2004 movie written, produced and executively-produced by Kaycee Oguejiofor and distributed by Filmark Prod Limited in the typical Part 1 and Part 2 VCD format. The film boasts special effects by Magic Mind Studios even though there is nothing special in the effects.

The theme of MIWD4U is very simple. An adulterous mother, not only contented with cheating on her husband, meddles into her daughter’s matrimonial home by seducing her son-in-law to sleep with her. The daughter catches them in the act and reports the heinous crime to the village elders who summon the guilty parties before the local shrine. Sometime before the summons, the dejected daughter tries to commit suicide (hence the movie’s title) but her efforts are thwarted by the totally unconvincing intervention of her sister and a few neighbours. At the climax of the movie, the whole truth is revealed, retributive justice is meted out - literally - by the hands of the gods and daughter and husband reconcile.

Even if you can bring yourself to forgive the cliché storyline and the outdated below-average production values, there is just no excuse for the flaws that abound aplenty in a movie that is still in circulation four years after it was released. Sadly these flaws begin to rear their ugly heads right from the very second you put in Disc One (a.k.a. Part 1).

I claim to possess a fair amount of patience but sitting through the entire 14 minutes and 29 seconds needed to view the trailers packed into the CD even before the opening credits began to roll taxed me to the max. Mercifully, there’s always the fast-forward button on the remote of course.

Nine movie adverts later (yes, nine!) and MIWD4U kicks off with Obioma (Ebube Nwagbo) going through the motions of shopping at the village market after which she has a chance encounter with Emeka (Uche Ndigwe) on her way back. As if to make up for lost time, the movie quickly speeds through the parts where Emeka informs his parents of his interest in Obioma to the first family introductory process up till they eventually get married.

From here the annoyance begins…If only the Producer had kept up with the pre-marriage tempo, then maybe this baloney would have been over sooner. But alas! It is not to be. The movie drags horrendously as we watch Emeka drive across the entire length of the Niger Bridge, sing a honeymoon-type duet with his wife (singing seemed to be a staple with Uche Ndigwe in those days) and then in one totally irrelevant scene, we get to see Amaka (Obioma’s bush sister) twist - as opposed to dancing - to a song playing on the living room sound system. The only people who may find that scene mildly interesting are those who enjoy the sight of sweaty female bodies in scenes with excessive lighting. There’s nothing even sensually provocative in Amaka’s gyrations.

Hop, skip and jump. Mrs. Regina Nnaji as interpreted by the overly-stereotypically cast Patience Ozokwor cheats on her husband then 9 months later, Obioma drops a bundle of joy for her own husband in a totally baby-and-mother unfriendly hospital. The suitable soundtrack for this scene should have been Shaggy’s “Strength of a Woman”. The mind boggles to think what kind of hospital makes a woman in labour climb 3 flights of stairs just to get to the Maternity ward. Whoever was the Location Manager was on this particular shoot deserves to be shot for this oversight.

Another person lined up for cinematic execution should have been the costumer. After giving Obioma some blood-racing, figure hugging costumes, Nonye Ike Okechukwu defaults badly in all the others. The nurses’ uniforms are so ill-fitting as to give the entire nursing profession a bad name and Amaka’s wardrobe too is so schlocky that it would shame a village girl to put most of those things on. Worse, Regina’s seductive dressing was actually a turn-off to me.

3 days and 2 weeks later (according to the timeline), Obioma cautions her mother on her indecent dressing, the said mother convinces her lover, Chief Okenwa (Amaechi Muonagor) to present a goodwill gift to the baby and off they go for yet another love tryst gratefully bringing Disc One to an end with the closing credits rolling to a wack soundtrack with lyrics that tell the whole story.

But the punishment does not stop there. Pop in Disc 2/Part 2 and you still suffer the same 9 ads at the beginning robbing you (or saving you depending on how you see it) another 15 minutes. The movie continues where it leaves off with Obioma voicing her worry to hubby over mummy’s long disappearance. After then we zip over quickly to the village and as if to make up for keeping Diewait Ikpechukwu in the background for so long, we get to watch another totally irrelevant scene of him choking over a plate of rice (which he’s devouring hungrily by the way) while Amaka comes to his rescue with aqua vita.

Meanwhile as he sorely misses his wife who is gallivanting in the city, she (Regina) begins practicing her seduction skills on her son-in-law who rebuffs her initially then succumbs when his wife goes for a post-natal. I don’t know about you guys out there but I think the entire second seduction scene looked fake and totally avoidable. It is at this point that Obioma walks in on husband and mother and as she reports to the elders later: “I caught my husband and my mother stark naked making love…”

Really? Well, not exactly if not the NFVCB would have had issues endorsing the film in the first place. Then comes the fun part in the movie. Back-biting Chief Okenwa advices Chief Nnaji to deal with his son-in-law out of jealousy that the young guy is sharing his honey-pot but what does the weakling chief Nnaji do? Nothing! Hot blooded Regina tries another seduction scene (unsuccessfully this time) and Obioma decides to take the issue to the village shrine. How ironical it is that she makes the sign of the cross there!

After pouring her heart out to her poor audience she then makes a melodramatic attempt to hang herself only to have the suicide plot foiled by Amaka and some neighbours who don’t seem to hear the commotion in the first place only to materialize from thin air to save Obioma just in the nick of time. Another week later and in the biggest moment of cinematic stupidity, we see Obioma act out ALMOST EXACTLY the SAME SCENE ALL OVER AGAIN! The only difference is that she does it with a differrent attire this time. I couldn’t help but wish she would hang herself all over again this time around but without the neighbours’ intervention so the movie hell I was going through could come to an end.

Like I earlier mentioned, a summons is answered, retributive justice dished out by the “special effects” hand of the gods (Magic Mind should be ashamed of themselves), a confession, several flashbacks and a reconciliation later and the movie finally grinds to a halt.

Why did I take my time to put you through this horror of a plot? Simple. Perchance you happen to be in the vicinity of your neighbourhood video rental or you go visiting and you catch this movie somewhere in the middle, just do yourself a favour and RUN! After all, Life is too short to watch such N.O.N.S.E.N.S.E.

Reviewed: June 2008

2 comments:

Nollywood Watch said...

I have been yearning for this kind of well thought critique of Nollywood work and I must confess this has the 'IT' factor.

Reading this has reinforced my belief that we are ready to smoothen the rough edges of Nollywood productions.

I enjoin you and other analytic and critical minds around to help chat a course for our great Nollywood.

Good Job, Well done!!!

Naughty Eyes said...

@ NWatch: Thanks for the props. Too bad I had to come out shooting on my very first Nollywood movie review. A whole truckload of champagne's waiting to popped the day we get it right...
As for course-charting, I'm kinda bad at Geography...