‘Your Excellency’ is now more relevant than ever: Review

Funke Akindele-Bello’s political satire solves many industry problems except its own.

Few hours before I finally settled to watch the 2019 Nollywood comedy, Your Excellency, I engaged with a tweet by a Nigerian filmmaker complaining about how any film he makes on the #EndSARS protest will never see the four corners of a Nigerian cinema.

Your Excellency, a political satirical comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, became the answer.

If I had seen Your Excellency when it dropped, I’d have prolly call out its inaccurate references and stale jokes. But seeing it at a time when the nation’s leaders needs calling out, in a way that won’t get you shot at least, Your Excellency became the perfect piece of entertainment that is too ridiculous to be banned with its satire too glaring to be unnoticed.

The two-hour film, on the surface, is a bad sitcom with generic characters and an exaggerated plotline. The product placements for all of Ebonylife properties were near-disgraceful. Ebonylife films always open like an Indomie commercial. No formality. Nothing. Just loud music and moving pictures from the actual film (as it has already begun) while the crew’s name hastily slide by like a bad PowerPoint presentation because no time. And they always end with a cliffhanger (that may or may not include Shaffy Bello threatening the normalcy in the lives of our protagonist). Like I said, a bad sitcom.

But the bigger picture, if you look beyond the silliness of trying to be 10 movies at once which is already an industry staple, is how Your Excellency delivers its message without hurting anyone. The film is about a buffoonish politician, Chief Olalekan Ajadi, whose obsession with Trump is only rivaled by his lack of self-respect. He has presented himself as the nation’s meme-machine because he’s a millionaire in one of the poorest countries in the world who has run for office numerous times just for the fun of it. As the Funke-Akindele Bello directed comedy unpacks its fun, the political landscape that has earned Nigeria the title of one of the most corrupt nation in the world, is bent forward on the table, and satisfactorily thrashed.

The games they play with the monsters they’ve made are exemplified through the D.A.C. Party, that snatched Alabi from his party and touted him as their candidate just for his money to fund their real candidate. I mean, they have a point: A Nigerian Trump would make us a laughing stock, but we’re already a laughing stock, aren’t we? The only part of the world where a much-asked speech can render everyone speechless after delivery.

As a “perennial candidate,” Ajadi didn’t even want the seat. But his rationale, which is of course inspired by Trump’s run, is never explained as the film forcefully brings in the world of Reality TV, social media, blogging and Naeto C into this safe space: being beautifully executed doesn’t justify the nonsense but boy was it beautiful!?

I just started paying real attention to new Nollywood so I can say this is the first time social media has been done justice to in any Nollywood film I’ve seen. I do feel bulk of the budget was spent on graphically creating the accounts and the memes and online videos. And if it wasn’t, Graphic Designer, you’ve been cheated. Your designs made this film.

And the set pieces too. And the directing; and I must confess, I instinctively doubted that a first timer would shoot a comedy with such gait and style and still retain the signature bounciness of new Nollywood. You can’t top the sleight of hand used in the political rallies or recreate our polling booths better. This film makes If I Am President look like the Mount Zion remake.

So that’s how you make a politically charged film, Naija filmmakers. Take your gloves off. Use all you’ve learned to create the most beautiful piece of entertainment they’ve seen. Catch that cruise. Don’t let anybody tell you we can’t lighten the situation up. Because right now you’re all being too serious. Your seriousness hasn’t gotten us any Best Foreign Language film at the Oscars so we all know that won’t help. You are creatives, not palliatives. You need to express yourself, with all of your teeth so we can secure these strange events for the future. Like it or not, if all this will be remembered 12 Donald Trumps from now, it all depends on you.

To the review, Your Excellency wastes too much time on being funny than being a movie. Akindele’s directing is surprisingly good and aren’t you all happy RMD didn’t show up as a News Presenter in this one, eh? A reality TV show about a washed-up singer and his wife who’s famous for almost being famous as a stand-in for the ridiculousness of Reality TV would have been a better standalone movie if they themselves understood that they were being satirical and it wasn’t the real thing. Twalè Shaffy Bello: Your acting is nation-halting. You see how this last paragraph is choppy and never fully discussed. That’s the film.

6.5/10

Okiki Adeduyite

2 thoughts on “‘Your Excellency’ is now more relevant than ever: Review

  1. […] ‘Your Excellency’ is now more relevant than ever: Review: A late but necessary addition. I’ve always wanted to write consequential pieces and I didn’t realize it until I was done. As I was trying to proffer solutions to a cinematic problem battling my industry, it didn’t stop me from bringing out my guns, decimating the film for its shortcomings. Funny and jaw-dropping. Read. […]

  2. […] bridging the gap between satire and uncalculated exaggerations. (Your Excellency, which I reviewed here, understood exactly what kind of film it wanted to be, and that cinematic honesty, not trying to be […]

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