Chief Daddy: Nollywood Holiday Movie of The Year

I had decided I was not going to see Chief Daddy in cinemas. Another box-office focused comedy from EbonyLife? I will wait for it to come to MyFilmHouse, Netflix, or EbonyLife in-house VOD.

I would rather spend my money on the other Nollywood movies showing in cinemas this December.

So, I had gone to see Tope Oshin’s Up North at Marturion Cinemas in Igando but due to some technical glitch, it was not shown. We were offered a free movie ticket and Chief Daddy instead. A cool deal. What’s the worst that could happen? I would laugh a lot and cringe a little.

I was one of those who were let down by the Wedding Party: Destination Dubai; I felt it was plotless and filled with scenes that were not relevant to the story. And Niyi Akinmolayan was directing! So imagine my disappointment.

But Chief Daddy was different. I really enjoyed it. I think it is a better comedy than the product of the first marriage between Niyi and EbonyLife Films.

Make no mistake, Chief Daddy is not the best of stories neither is it the Nigerian film with the best performances this year but it is genuinely entertaining and funny. Maybe the best holiday movie of the year.

Chief Daddy: Story

Chief Daddy is presented as a family movie; one centered around the importance of peace and understanding in a typical large Nigerian (Yoruba) family.

Chief Daddy tells the story of billionaire industrialist Chief Beecroft, a flamboyant benefactor to a large extended family of relatives, household staff and assorted mistresses. Chief lives large like there’s no tomorrow, until the day he dies suddenly and the ‘bullion van’ stops.”

Every movie EbonyLife Films have released features an event: Fifty had a birthday; The Wedding party 1 & 2 had disaster weddings; Chief Daddy had a disaster burial ceremony.

The story was centered around this burial: the build up to it, the event itself, and the aftermath.

Chief Daddy: The Good

Falz’s depiction of a spoilt brat who schooled in the UK is interesting. The British accent thing is interesting because it is both laughable and commendable.

Usually, it is Hollywood trying and failing to nail the Nigerian accent. Here the tables are turned, we have a role that requires a Nollywood actor to speak in a foreign accent. That is commendable, it shows a desire to get our actors to work.

The accent distraction asides, Falz delivered. But I still feel our scripts are holding him back. Yes, he can act – he is the only rapper with an AMVCA. Even though Reminisce is coming for that title after his explosive debut in King of Boys.

Falz has been in more than three Nollywood features and has a reoccurring role in Funke Akindele’s Jenifa but we are yet to see him deliver something truly remarkable.

Another good point scored in Chief Daddy is credited to Niyi. I think, after seeing the trailer, many people thought this film is a disaster waiting to happen given the number of stars in it.

How do you manage Ini Edo, Rachel Oniga, Falz, Joke Sylvia, Richard Mofe Damijo, Funke Akindele, and Kate Henshaw in one movie? Especially when they are all appearing in scenes together. That’s too much talent.

But most times, they don’t feel out of place; there is no one doing too much or being asked to go overboard.

It is not rare to see many top Nollywood star in a film these days but this is one occasion in which each person’s strength and star power is being managed well.

In one of the movie’s most pivotal scene, where everyone is gathered at the dining table discussing the death of the film’s pivot: Chief Beecroft aka Chief Daddy; the camera focused on the few at the table and lingers away only on a few occasions to call on the likes of Nkem Owoh, Zainab Balogun, Patience Ozokwor, and Mawuli Gavor to give their input.

I hope this is implemented in the next wedding party movie so Mrs. Sobowale does not overshadow everyone again. That’s if we get one.

Chief Daddy: The Bad

One of the early scenes in the movie is typical Nollywood slapstick comedy BS. The scene features Madam Pat (Patience Ozokwor) and Chauffeur Donatus (Nkem Owoh) trying to resuscitate Chief Beecroft (Taiwo Obileye) after he had collapsed.

It is so unrealistic and cringeworthy, but the game is the game: This is Nollywood. Trying to rationalize that scene will defeat the purpose of the movie: to get you to laugh at all cost.

A movie that featured all of Nollywood – old, new, and the future – is always going to struggle to utilize all of the talents onboard. There is a scene that featured Bisola Aiyeola; it is touted on social media as the genius moment of the movie.

It is a short-lived moment but one that features Bisola at her comic best. But the relevance of that scene to the movie is not clear. What’s Bisola’s character connection to Chief Daddy? She was not called by the lawyers. She didn’t appear in the burial. So what’s her contribution to the story?

I hate when we have a scene that is just meant to make people laugh even though it does not contribute to the story.

Chief Daddy: Conclusion

While I am not a fan of Niyi Akinmolayan’s first work with EbonyLife Films – The Wedding Party: Destination Dubai – I enjoyed it. I laughed a lot.

But this time around, I laughed even more and got a better story with better performances. Chief Daddy is not the best of Nollywood’s story but it is okay.

As I walked out of the cinema, two girls behind me were discussing and one of them said: “Chief Daddy is not a cinema movie.”

If it was before I watched the movie, I would agree and say it is meant for iRokoTV or Netflix. But nah, there is space for this kind of movies in our cinemas; the audience loves them.

My only issue: They should not be the only movies in our cinemas.

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Daniel Okechukwu
Daniel is a Nollywood blogger; he discusses the latest happenings in the Nigerian Film Industry. His writings on Nollywood have appeared on Okayafrica, Africa is a Country, Konbini, and Culture Custodian.

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