The idea of making a film about a struggling comedian and his talking dog must have come from the same place Hollywood conceives imaginative live action fables like Cats & Dogs and comedies starring Eddie Murphy. A place of confluence, where faith meets adventure and risk is the price worth paying.
This is the only explanation conceivable for the existence of a film like Kayode Kasum’s Dognapped, a dismal, one joke turkey that starts and ends with nary a joyful note.
From Hollywood to Nollywood, countless decent ideas have been mangled on the long journey from conception to execution and Dognapped is merely the latest. It is an uncomfortable experience for everyone involved. For a super comedian like Julius Agwu whose voice work in the film could have set some kind of benchmark. For Tope Tedela who is really a nice guy and deserves to be in nice films only. For audiences who have to sit through the dreck.
The plot goes something like this. Andy (Tope Tedela,) a much put upon janitor, at a comedy club spends his days dreaming of his name in lights and sold out, stand-up routines set to rapturous applause from the audience.
Problem is Andy’s jokes are lame as those of his nemesis, (played by Comedian Ebiye), who has somehow, managed to become the club’s biggest attraction. In a rather uninteresting aside, Andy is oblivious to all the not so subtle come-ons his colleague (Lota Chukwu) throws his way.
Andy has a lifeline though, his beloved pet dog Bruno (voice of Julius Agwu) is a natural comedian. At least that is the impression the film wants to create. Except Bruno’s jokes are just as bad, the difference being that the actors have been directed to laugh. Bruno begins to reel out potential jokes and Andy jots them down gleefully to incorporate into his act later. The comedy club audience takes to this newer material and Andy’s star begins to ascend. There are potential copyright issues here but when did any Nigerian ever care about animal rights?
The tragedy of Dognapped isn’t the messy, uninteresting plot, the leaden pacing or the fact that the application of vfx isn’t seamless. It is that for all the natural and professional comedians Kasum has gathered (WofaiFada, Funnybone, Senator the Comedian) they barely manage to come up with one joke between all of them.
Most of the blame of course must go to Kasum who is credited with writing the screenplay and directing the barely coherent film. Even Odunlade Adekola who found a way to make a cameo appearance in Toyin Abraham’s equally dismal Alakada Reloaded, refreshing, is broken completely here.
There is a rivalry somewhere, between Ebiye’s character and Andy and this results in Bruno’s kidnap. Helpless, Andy and his love interest go to the police for help and at the station, run into a crop of bumbling characters so useless, they neither contribute positively to the quest, nor move the plot along.
No other way to say this, Dognapped is a total drag.
Watch at your own peril.