TIFF 2016: The Wedding Party

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Kemi Adetiba’s film The Wedding Party is one of those romantic comedies that has cross-generational appeal. It is a film that takes a well-travelled trope, of two different families attempting to find common ground during a wedding, and infuses just the right amount of humour and charm. Dunni (Adesua Etomi) has done what no other has been able to do, capture the heart of former playboy Dozie (Banky Wellington). Now with their wedding mere hours away nothing can spoil the couple’s big day…well nothing except for family of course.

Dunni’s parents, Bamidele (Atunyota Akpobome) and Tunuade Cokers (Sola Sobowale), may not have much, but they are determined to give their daughter the lavish wedding of her dreams. After all their future son-in-law is part of a wealthy family, which means that the Cokers will be moving up the social ladder by default. On the other hand, believing that their son is marrying beneath him, and dealing with the ramifications of their own longstanding marital issues that they refuse to address, Dozie’s parents (Richard Mofe-Damijo and Iretiola Doyle) are not as open to this romantic union as their middle class counterparts.

As one can expect, the wedding devolves into a series of mishaps where cultures’ clash, old flames re-emerge, secrets are revealed and gate crashes threaten to turn the once joyous day into an epic disaster.

The Wedding Party may not offer many surprises from a narrative standpoint, but there is no denying that the film is a pure crowd-pleaser. Generating many well-earned belly laughs, it is impossible to leave the film without a huge smile on one’s face. This is especially true in the sequence where a pastor is asked to say a blessing at the reception. While it would be disservice to spoil what occurs in that moment, it is easily the funniest scene involving a man of the cloth to be captured on film since Rowan Atkinson’s iconic scene in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Speaking of scene-stealing moments in the film, and there are plenty to go around, Sola Sobowale deserves some credit for her wonderful over-the-top work as a mother determined to be a part of high society, but not willing to sacrifice her heritage in the process.

As much as one would like to believe weddings are about couples expressing their love for one another, the fact of the matter is that it is about two families coming together. Though the vibrantly colourful film focuses on a Nigerian wedding, and the cultural dances and traditions that come with it, The Wedding Party is as universal a film as one can get. It does not matter what one’s background is, the film’s themes regarding the importance of family, and the stresses and joys that come with them, will have you laughing from beginning to end.