Saturday 29 May 2021

One Lagos Night (Movie Review)

All art is subjective as the saying goes, and things don't really get any more subjective than with comedy. Everything from an actor's delivery, to their comedic timing, comes into play in determining whether we find their performance funny or not. So it is always tricky when evaluating a movie like One Lagos Night, where much of the enjoyment hinges on how well the jokes land. But as I quickly found out during the course of the film, it boasts a lot more hits than misses.

The movie tells the story of two men, Ehiz (Ikponmwosa Gold) and Tayo (Frank Donga), struggling to get by in the slums of Lagos. Ehiz is in search of an well-paying job, while Tayo works as a security man and a part-time prophet. Following a series of unfortunate circumstances, Tayo comes up with a plan to rob the house of a wealthy money launderer. But when the same house is invaded by professional burglars on the very same night they'd intended to execute their plan, the pair is forced to resort to their wits to come out ahead and with their lives.

One Lagos Night's biggest strength comes from the on-screen chemistry between its two leads. The way both actors were able to continually riff off of each other's shortcomings throughout the movie made it feel like I was watching two real-life friends and not professional actors. I confess that I wasn't familiar with Ikponmwosa Gold and his work prior to his appearance here, but Frank Donga I remember from his scene-stealing performance in the otherwise shoddy The Wedding Party. And it was nice seeing him shine once again with a performance that was both nuanced and funny.

So it is a shame then that we can't really say the same thing about the supporting cast. Most of them covered the broad spectrum of acting tropes you'd expect to find in a Nollywood movie, meaning their performances were either wooden or terribly overacted. The biggest offenders were the so-called professional thieves, who were about as convincing as their cheesy codenames. It is hard to tell how much of that was due to their stilted dialogue, but a part of me suspects this is another case of bad acting paired with a questionable screenplay.

And speaking of screenplay, this one often skirted the thin line between playing the situations for laughs and just being plain dumb. There were many scenarios that played out unrealistically, but I guess that shouldn't really come as a surprise to anyone. There were also some technical issues I noticed during the film, like the audio getting out of sync in certain scenes. Its hard to tell if this was from the movie itself or Netflix, but still something that threatened to pull me out of the experience.

One Lagos Night is a flawed but nonetheless funny crime comedy. It plays into the strengths of its two leads, giving both men ample opportunity to showcase their talent. The film might not be to everyone's taste, but it at least offers enough entertainment value without overstaying its welcome. And sometimes, it is best to just go along for the ride and enjoy a film for what it is, not what it isn't.

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