The internet has been dragging Nollywood for a while now, and honestly, we get it. We stepped into a new year with the release of EbonyLife’s biggest hot mess to date, Chief Daddy 2 and as if that wasn’t enough, ThisDay style decided to ring in 2022 with chaos by releasing this magazine cover that had some of our Nollywood faves looking like discount Spartacus.
Nigerians don’t deserve this. We are decent people.
Rebuking this negative energy and cleansing our chakras for the year, we’ve listed out some of the Nollywood ensemble movies that actually worked. We’re not saying they’re perfect, but at least their plots made sense and had direction.
1. King of Boys
In a time where most ensembles focused on weddings or funerals, Kemi Adeitba tried something different, and omo, it actually slapped. It’s one thing to make a Nigerian film with a female villain, and it’s another thing to make the audience fall in love with and root for her. Do we think the film could’ve been shorter? Yes. But we were living for the badass energy Sola Sobowale and Toni Tones gave us. So we can’t complain.
2. Sugar Rush
From Mawuli Gavor being shirtless again for no reason to Banky W wearing a bullet-proof juju trad and an invisible car, this film has everything. It follows the Sugar sisters (Adesua Etomi, Bisola Aiyeola, and Bimbo Ademoye) and the hilarious drama that happens after they stumble upon (not steal) $800,000 from a bunch of criminals and Toke Makinwa in a shiny bone straight. While it might have plot holes the size of Aso Rock, the film still delivers on being funny as hell.
Another movie that focuses on random people strolling into trouble based on greed and amebo is Kenneth Gyang’s Confusion Na Wa. After discovering a phone, two local champions go-ahead to blackmail its owner and then have their lives go to shit simply because they couldn’t unlook. A dark comedy that captures the lives of different people and how they collide over a short period, this film is proof that sometimes, all you need is a good story.
We’ve all seen this plot before. A Nigerian girl with the accent moves back to the country and starts some creative job selling decorated puff-puffs or planning weddings. She complains about not meeting her dream man even though she hasn’t ventured past the third mainland bridge. This leads her to go on a couple of dates with trash Nigerian men and kiss the ex who used her heart to play Super Mario. In the end, she realises that her best friend is the love of her life. Cliché as the plot is, something about Werruche Opia’s performance makes it feel fresh. Hands down one of the best “looking for love in Lagos” films we’ve seen.
The name of this film is triggering childhood memories we’d like to repress. Urrgh. Directed by Dare Olaitan, this ambitious ensemble has half of young Nollywood in it. While it might seem like a crazy story about a petrol station manager on the surface, Ojukokoro masterfully interweaves the lives of several characters in a way we haven’t seen before. The best part is that almost all the loose ends are tied up by the time the end credits roll. To be clear, this film isn’t perfect. One major thing that stands out is the lack of development for the female characters, especially in a time where the diversity and depths of women are being explored on screen.
6. The Set Up
This film is a visual example of what happens when you put too much pepper in your stew – It will slap in the beginning, but down the line, you’ll start to wonder how you got here. Following Adesua Etomi and Nollywood’s secret weapon, Kehinde Bankole, as Lekki Nikitas, the film pulled us into a messy web of lies, drama and so many flashbacks, we ended up with a headache. Where The Set Up fails at selling its twists, it makes it up with great performances. From Joke Silva bitch slapping Dakore Egbuson to Adesua doing her best Charlie’s Angel impression, we were constantly at the edge of our seats.
Honestly, this is the film that marked the beginning of the end for Nollywood. Producers and studios saw how Nigerians ate this movie up in 2016 and decided to give us watered-down versions of it year in, year out. A classic in our opinion, The Wedding Party redefined ensemble comedies for Nollywood and sadly, no one has been able to top it since then (not even its sequel). Is it the groom’s ex showing up at the wedding or the fight for superiority between amala and rice? This film showcases all the crazy things that could happen at a typical owambe wedding in Nigeria. It still cracks us up till today.