By Onoshe Nwabuikwu
I see that Merry Men 2: Another Mission (directed by Moses Inwang) is still showing at the cinemas but I haven’t been able to see it because I’m out of Nigeria at the moment. This is not about the new Merry Men movie. I’m actually a latecomer to the Merry Men titles. I don’t think I have ever said it aloud (maybe I have?) but I’m not a fan of Nollywood’s so-called comedy movies. And movies by comedians, I find even more suspicious. Sometimes, they could be doubly disappointing because people expect that a comedian would easily produce a very funny movie. I did say to Nollywood some time ago on this page that, ‘Comedy Is Serious Business.’ In any case, being funny is one thing, remembering that in spite of whatever genre you’re pushing, what you’re making is a movie which should tell a story, have a beginning, middle and an end. You know, try to tell a story, not string supposedly funny skits together as a movie.
That being said, I have had a change of heart since watching Merry Men: The Real Yoruba Demons (directed by Toka McBaror), thanks to Netflix. In case you’re wondering, Merry Men: The Real Yoruba Demon is the precursor to Merry Men 2. I have given some real thought to what it is I like about the first of the Merry Men titles. It’s certainly not because of the story or the dialogue. Some of the lines sound somewhat stilted as if someone is trying to show they can write ‘big’ English and there are bits, even for Nollywood comedy that look rather contrived.
Oh, now I know– I like the combination of old and new Nollywood, perhaps seeing ‘old’ Nollywood or what I call Nollywood royalty is what has done the magic. I like the combination of Ramsey Nouah (as Ayo Alesinloye), Jim Iyke (Naz Okigbo) and Richard Mofe-Damijo (Chief Alesinloye). Throw in Jide Kosoko (Chief Omole), Iretiola Doyle (Dame Maduka), and Ali Nuhu, representing Kannywood (identified as client service head). Damilola Adegbite as Dera is the icing.
Usually, we hear about Hollywood royalty, which is basically actors who come from a lineage of actors or people in the business of entertainment. Like Angelina Jolie being the daughter of Oscar-winning actor, Jon Voight. And there are many examples you’d never guess. In Nigeria, Merry Men got me thinking of our own entertainment royalty. Even before we get to the second or third generation, how about the main ‘actors’ themselves? There are some who have become royalty because of the types of roles they have played over the years. Remember Olu Jacobs as ‘Igwe of Nollywood’? That’s a story I’ve done in this column. I mean, the man is more believable as an igwe than some real igwes (kings)!
Also, I always marvel when I see children of older stars, especially when these stars are still active, shining. I can’t get over the fact that Clarence Peters is the child of Afro-Juju creator, musician Shina Peters and multi-talented actress, Clarion Chukwurah. Then, consider Clarence’s own great strides as music video director and cinematographer. How can I forget Yul Edochie, Pete Edochie’s son? There’s Tosin Igho, Peter Igho’s son.
Not to make this too wide, there are examples in music– watching Femi Kuti at a show with his son Made, both play the saxophone. There are definitely many more examples, as many as the ones we are ignorant of and can’t make any connection to. For instance, while the TV series, Hush, was running and Olakunle ‘Abounce’ Fawole was cracking our ribs as Ruffy Jaskin alongside his sidekick Alabama Cincinnati (Saheed Azeez Abiodun), I didn’t know his mother was actresss, Buki Zainab Ajayi, until she passed on.
Back to the Merry Men, apart from seeing our old– make that seasoned screen stars come back to life, I like the December release timing. Reminds me of the time Chico Ejiro’s Silent Night used to be released in December. That was something to look forward to.
Onoshe Nwabuikwu is a Public Affairs Analyst.