All four movies executive produced by Mo Abudu are in the top ten highest grossing Nigerian movies of all time. She is business savvy like that. While she is the king (or Queen) of Nollywood Box Office, movies produced by her company, EbonyLife Films, have not been critically acclaimed. To be honest, they have not been great films. With The Royal Hibiscus Hotel, we can finally say Mo Abudu has given us a delightful rom-com.
It is not spectacular but it is enjoyable.
The thing is unlike The Wedding Party 1 and the annoying (yet funny) Wedding Party 2, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel has a lot going for it asides comedy. There are good music, good story, and terrific acting.
The Royal Hibiscus Hotel Review: Story.
The movie follows the life of Opeoluwa (Zainab Balogun), an international chef and daughter of the owners of the badly-run Royal Hibiscus Hotel, Chief Segun, and Rose Adeniyi. Opeoluwa leaves London for Lagos after failing to establish her own restaurant there. Her parents are happy that she is coming home for different reasons. Mom wants her to get married and dad needs her signature to sell the hotel. Ope falls for Deji, a dashing young businessman with a secret that could kill their young relationship.
When TRHH was announced as the only Nollywood movie to screen at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last year, the movie instantly became one of the most anticipated Nollywood movies of 2018. I concluded in my mind that this one will be different from the other Ebonylife films and maybe it was. No redundant character and forcing you to laugh was not the goal.
The Royal Hibiscus Hotel is very funny, maybe more than the Wedding Party movies but it did not sacrifice its story for your laughs. The story sure has its problems but at least humor was not the center of the movie.
TRHH rights all the wrongs of the Wedding Party: Dubai destination. It did not have forced characters; the extras did not feel out of place. You will particularly enjoy the hotel receptionist – Chika – played by Kemi ‘Lala’ Akindoju.
The lead characters here, Deji (Kenneth Okolie) and Opeoluwa (Zainab Balogun) were a delight to watch. Their on-screen chemistry is one to root for. The type of on-screen love that gives you butterflies and make you laugh. Something Deardre and Nonso (in Wedding Party 2) lacked completely.
Deji and Ope are not the only enjoyable couple here, Chief Segun and Rose Adeniyi, played by Jide Kosoko and Rachel Oniga respectively were in sync. They gave us something RMD and on-screen wife in the Wedding Party Franchise – Ireti Doyle – lack totally. Chemistry!
The Soundtrack of TRHH is definitely one of the movie’s strong suit. Cobhams handled the score and to the surprise of nobody, it was dope. Tracks from Nonso Amadi, Simi and Johnny Drille helped keep us afloat on this romantic ride.
TRHH is not without its fault, the story felt rushed and does not challenge the viewer in any way, the usual let’s play safe we have come to know EbonyLife movies for, but it is enjoyable. My only regret was going to see the movie alone.