Movie Title: A Naija Christmas
Year of Release: 2021
Viewing Platform: Netflix
Director: Kunle Afolayan
Cast: Kunle Remi, Abayomi Alvin, Rachel Oniga, Efa Iwara, Lateef Adedimeji, Linda Osifo, Carol King, Pasuma, Mercy Johnson Okojie, Segilola Ogidan and Ade Laoye.
Agatha Agu’s (Rachel Oniga) main wish as a mother of three sons was for them to get married and provide her with grandchildren. Especially since the derision from members of her church association was getting too much to bear. A near-brush with death did not help matters and this pushed her to resort to blackmail: the first son to get married gets the family house. And so, the scramble began between her sons, Ugo (Kunle Remi), Obi (Efa Iwara), Chike (Abayomi Alvin), as to who marries first and snatches the grand prize.
While the storyline is not new, the backstory and uniqueness of A Naija Christmas’ cast imbued the story with life, depth and a certain panache/fluorish. This altogether makes it different from the mundane boys trying to fulfill their mother’s wish narrative. The Christmas in the Ghetto theme was also brilliant, although the bit of stereotyping shown with the bag snatching scene was cliché. What might have shot A Naija Christmas out of the box was if it had pursued the bit of intrigue that initially clouded Chike’s mystery partner and maybe introduced a gay relationship, but this was not done. This does not imply that the unveiled partner was not surprising, she was.
This was a 98% hit. From the smooth operator Ugo to the hopeless romantic Obi, and the at first carefree but later intense Chike. Deaconess Fakorede (Carol King), Ajike (Segilola Ogidan) and the church screening committee were all great cast choices.
Same as casting, this was absolutely brilliant. Late Rachel Oniga was every bit the cunning mother trying to marry off her sons. Vera (Linda Osifo), Kaneng (Ade Laoye), Ugo, Obi and Chike all knew what was required of them and they delivered.
A 100%. Didn’t notice anyone not dressed according to their role/scene. Even Tony Torpedo.
A nice blend of old skool, fuji, jazz and funk was just what this movie needed. Wonder if Ajike (Segilola Ogidan) composed a song specially for the film.
As always, Kunle Afolayan got the script and executed it astoundingly. Compared to his last film, Swallow, A Naija Christmas sucks the viewer in right from the beginning and does not let go till the end. Seeing that this was Rachel Oniga’s last shooting before her death, it can only be imagined how Afolayan was able to work with her schedule while filming and probably going for health appointments too. A Naija Christmas film is likely to trend on Netflix’s top ten Nigeria list and maybe even the global list for a long time to come.
Not sure what type of baby Deaconess Fakorede showed us on her phone but almost certain it is not a human baby.
For the most part, this was perfect, except for a few things. In the opening scene when Ugo discovered Ajike hiding in his studio. For someone caught trespassing, Ajike was more concerned about her destroyed demo and Ugo did not seem too bothered too. In the same opening scene, one would expect that a real-life Ugo would have risked bodily harm from the ladies after him instead of allowing them to destroy his mixer, knowing it cost a lot of money. Another miss was not sharing why Ugo borrowed from Tony Torpedo
Mercy Johnson did not quite gel as a romantic older woman lover. She appeared a bit uncomfortable with her role. And she was definitely not two times Chike’s age, except Chike is a 20-year-old or something. There is also something about casting Lateef Adedimeji as Tony Torpedo and even the whole Tony Torpedo character, it doesn’t jive with the image of a Nigerian loan shark. Seemed more like a mafia/Italian loan shark. Asides from providing some comic relief and except for one scene, we also did not get the sense of menace that such characters usually give off. But if that’s the whole idea then it worked.
A Naija Christmas is 2 hours of pure entertainment. If you are looking for a feel-good movie to delight you this festive season, then A Naija Christmas should be part of your list.
Reviewed by Oriyomi Adebare-Anthony