‘In the cupboard’ is the latest film from the prolific and high-profile team at the Royal Arts Academy whose stable has gifted us with ‘Bursting out’, ‘Kiss & tell’ and ‘Holding hope in recent times.’ It stars Ini Edo, Uti Nwachukwu (of Big Brother Africa fame) and Alex Ekubo and the producers must have counted on the chance that the glossy cast, along with the not-so-subtle title and sleek packaging would grab the attention of every virile person out there.
But like a double-edged sword, It is perhaps for these same reasons that some folks may find themselves reluctant to see this film. While at least two of the aforementioned headliners are superstars in their own right, each of their respective earlier outings at the cinemas this year has left a lot to be desired. Ini Edo’s ‘I’ll take my chances’ was more fizzle than sizzle and we are still trying to pretend ‘True citizens’ starring Uti Nwachukwu and Alex Ekubo never happened. Still, we’ll take our chances with this one.
The aristocratic and fabulously wealthy Desouza family comprising of mother (Biola Segun-Williams)and her five children has just lost it’s patriarch; only you’d never guess it. Not from the way the soignée widow is always perfectly coiffed and definitely not from her bratty offspring’s endless bickering.
We are introduced to the clan as they gather primarily for the reading of the will and secondarily to bury their late patriarch and it doesn’t take long to pick up on the following: mommy knows things she isn’t telling, much-married alcoholic Tricia (Edo) is a closeted lesbian and brothers Tega (Ekubo) and Nwachukwu’s character have unresolved issues bordering on full blown enmity. Add to this quirky mix the son suffering from foot-in-the-mouth disease, the daughter who has an unhealthy obsession with her camcorder and the stage is set to unpeel layer after layer of juicy scandalous detail.
Produced by former starlet Caroline Danjuma and directed by Desmond Elliot, both working from a script by Kehinde Olorunyomi, ‘In the cupboard’ sure has it’s bright spots. It starts out hurriedly and moves at a fun, zippy pace boosted by campy performances from it’s ensemble cast.
Uti Nwachukwu isn’t anyone’s favorite actor around but he discharges himself suitably as the heir to the Desouza family jewels. Quiet, dignified and filled with a slow-burning rage, he envelops smugly into the role. Problem is the screenplay has no room for subtlety and every time he is made to raise his voice unnecessarily(and this happens one too many times), it defeats his genuine attempts at credibility. Ini Edo pulls off her routine vapid act with no serious attempts at scratching the surface of her character, although in this case, the fault is as much hers as it is the director and the screenwriter’s. Ghanian, Lydia Forson is a big bore, so is the Sierra Leonean Morris Sesay and Susan Peters shows up too briefly to matter. This leaves room for the newbie, Tessy Abubakar who plays the baby of the house. Armed with her ever present camera and a resolute, child-like belief in people, her beguiling presence not only provides the genuine comic moments of the picture, but is also the apple core of a crowded room of outlandish performers.
Then there is the terrible. Ginnefine Kanu, the starlet who plays Nkiru, the hot tottie that comes between two of the brothers with a vengeance is so bad, she manages to turn her huge, pivotal scene into a terrible parody, begging the question, how in Nollywood was she cast?
Other random questions that come to mind as the film progresses include; would Biola Segun-Williams’ eyeballs pop out of their sockets if she dilates them any further? Why is her arm bandaged in one scene and in the next, she is not even sporting a scar? Does the director believe that shaking the camera violently will simulate on-screen action? What is the point of the sub-plot with the other two sisters? Why is Nwachukwu’s costuming so shoddy? In the last but one scene, did Ekubo’s character change his shirt while the others waited before going in to see mum? Why was there not one sex scene? Why is someone yelling ‘quiet’ at every other turn? Someone please remind us, how was the Nkiru character cast? Questions, questions, questions
Alas, these are questions Mr Elliot has no intentions of answering. He understands his audience and has perfected the art of making the get-lost-in-feel-good movie we all love to hate. Folks looking for award-baiting fare might have to wait for the next Kunle Afolayan film. But for those in search of escapist, undemanding, unchallenging viewing pleasure, by all means, do check this one out. Just be sure to leave grey matter at the concession stands.