If there was any chemistry between Dapo and Ify, I must have completely missed it.
For the average Nigerian, meeting your future In-laws is perhaps one of the most terrifying things, right after watching a doctor shake his head at your test results.
The level of paranoia that precedes these meetings would break paranoia scales if they were weighed, and this perhaps is why the writer of 2016 film Meet the In-Laws, Rita Onwurah, decided to do a screenplay on one of the nation’s most relatable themes.
Directed by Niyi Akinmolayan, Meet the In-Laws is a 2016 romantic comedy that tells the story of Dapo and Ify, two lovers from different Nigerian tribes who are so in love they decide to get married.
Their parents are happy about this until they learn who the proposed spouses actually are. Then they let hell loose and watch as the fires burn, cheering from both sides.
Dapo’s parents, Deji and Ronke are complete opposites. While Ronke is boisterous and unforgiving, Deji is calm and agreeable. This contrast would eventually translate to the obvious parent throwing tantrums and swearing to only let the marriage happen over her dead body.
Ify’s parents, Ejike and Nnena just want their daughter to be happy. Even when Ejike would disagree about giving his daughter’s hand to a Yoruba man, he is still torn between letting his sentiments lead or doing the will of his daughter.
The latter wins and he invites his future in-laws over, but when both families meet, they find that they aren’t strangers after all, and this would make matters worse.
Tina Mba fills the entire room as Ronke. Her talent has never been in question, but in Meet The In-Laws, she is a shining star. Her expressions are truly entertaining, and she embodies her character so well you get entranced in it.
Amaechi Muonagor as Ejike is way too slow. He dampens the pace of this film in most scenes he appears in, and they are quite a number. His lines are shallow and repetitive, and when his character does absurd things like wear beads to bed, you wonder why no one on the set could advise him otherwise.
He, however, redeems himself somewhere in the middle of the film, especially when he rains insults on Dapo in Igbo, disguised as pleasantries. Because the young man has no idea what he is talking about, he accepts these insults with too much gratitude.
Dele Odule seems to hold back as Deji, or perhaps it appears that way because Tina Mba’s character drowns his with its light. When he gets a chance, however, he makes hilarious statements without trying too hard, like when he says, ‘Tell me the texture of your problem’.
Blessing Onwukwe plays Nneka, and Kenneth Okolie plays Chijioke, one of Ify’s suitors. He does the Igbo man role so brilliantly, he nearly overdoes it. Nedu’s amusing one-scene role seals this film as a comedy.
If there was any chemistry between Dapo and Ify, I must have completely missed it. We know they are lovers only because the characters in the film say so.
As Dapo, Adeniyi Johnson doesn’t impress. He acts like he is acting, and makes you feel nothing at all. Lilian Esoro is only slightly better as Ify. And because these two are the faces of the film, they create a tempting desire to sleep at certain points even though the film is only 75 minutes long.
Even though the first few scenes at the beginning telling the story with pictures are very beautifully done, Meet the In-Laws could have done with better lead actor cast choices.
The conflict introduced in the course of the story relating to a shoe seems watery but passes for humour’s sake. A more concrete reason for years of enmity would have worked better.
Ultimately, as you watch, you realise the goal of this film is to make you laugh, and it does. You might not remember it two weeks after seeing it, but while it is on, it does what it is set to do and leaves you entertained.
Produced by Bunmi Akajaiye and Victoria Akujobi, it also passes a message on love, forgiveness and tolerance.
This post first appeared on TNS.
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