By Anthony Elikene
Everyone you will ever meet knows something you do not. So hoarding knowledge or lording it over others never bodes well for the so-called knowledgeable one. This is exactly what is explored in Ufuoma McDermott’s latest film, What Just Happened.
When I realised the film was a comedy, I found it hard to picture McDermott in such a role because traditionally, I’ve always preferred her in much more serious roles like the classy wife, an underprivileged woman fighting for a cause, or even a damsel in distress; I never saw the comedy in her. But I must say, after seeing What Just Happened, my eyes were opened to something new about her; mostly to her dynamism not just as a person, but as an actress too.
Of course, her role in the film could have been a comic flop without the presence of one of the most admired talents to ever grace the Nigerian film industry, Toyin Abraham. Of course, not to forget Mike Ezeruonye and the ever comic Afeez Saka Ayetoro among others.
While many may not think the movie is a satire, it is a stark one, as harsh as can be; cleverly hidden in the guise of comedy.
In many scenes, most importantly the church service scenes, we see a reality that is present in many Nigerian places of worship.
The theme of superiority was not only well thought out, but the flaws in the armour of the seemingly superior are also exposed in many ways.
From the unrepentant driver who ‘scams’ his unwitting charge out of money and doing his job, just to play a few rounds of a betting game; to the endless criminals in a helpless guise that parade Nigerian expressways, it is all highlighted. This is not to forget practices that reveal an unhelpful nature in people, coupled with the presence of the remnants of a custom that remains unfriendly to women. This is not to forget the criminally minded in Diaspora who still persist in spinning outrageous lies that misrepresent Africa and Nigeria.
The verdict according to the film is not all bad though.
Ufuoma balances the narrative effectively with a number of scenarios, like the understanding policemen who forgive the excesses of an unsuspecting and rude ‘JJC, I too know professor’, to the helpful Nigerian who houses strangers in his home and even participates in the rescue of the erring professor. Perhaps, most important of the balancing acts is the role of Mike Ezeruonye, Dele, a worthy, helpful, faithful and steadfast Nigerian who stands with the stubborn professor throughout her ordeal.
The lapses in the film, while forgivable came more from technical issues, and a few language and cultural inconsistencies.
Plot-wise though, the film is a success that was ensured by a stellar, yet comic cast, with Nollywood heavyweights like Afeez Oyetoro (Saka), Segun Arinze, Toyin Abraham, Jude Orhora, MC Abbey, Funnybone, Professor Ogborgbor, and Ufuoma McDermott in the lead as the star of the film.
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