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Banana Island Ghost: A Risky Take

Now let me put it out there that   have a soft spot for the light complexioned chubby woman. For me that is an epitome of African beauty so I walked into the preview of this movie already biased because of the lead actress, the one they call Chigurl.  I have been a fan ever since my friend Tobi introduced me to her via one of her recordings. She was then totally unknown and was doing the skits for the fun of it. She lived in Ikoyi and Tobi was her neighbour and friend. As soon as I listened to the shrill voice mimicking the Igbo lady I knew this was a sound talent that was going places. Although in my admiration I feared for the risk of diversity. Would she unlike Klint de drunk go beyond the one talent that would push her into our consciousness? Klint de drunk has tired out and we have enjoyed the drunken stupor and are indeed bored and moved on.

Chigurl has so far impressed me with the range of her skills. She has moved on from the shrill heavy accented igbo femme fatale to hosting her own gigs, presenting on TV and now has appeared on the big screen so you can imagine my excitement as the hall went dark.

Her chubby frame was thrown at us in a bunny rabbit outfit and there the drama began. She was so unsure of herself that you could begin to see the fear in her eyes. Her performance was shaky and at best still. She repeated the lines without really acting them out and the fact that the script was a poor adaptation of at least five Hollywood movies did not allow her to show her natural talent. She struggled from one disastrous performance to the other, from the road scene where she was hit by the two ladies in an open top car, to the bedroom scene where she woke up with Patrick beside her she was a rolling chubby disaster. I was ready to stand up and leave the room until I saw my brother Bimbo Manuel appear.
Now Bimbo’s performance was regal. You could be forgiven if you forgot that he was trying to ape Morgan Freeman in that legendary role beside Jim Carrey. Now this was talent as he combined with Patrick to replicate the Morgan/Jim combo. They were both effortless and their diction, carriage and free flow that the roles demanded especially Patrick’s own was graceful. From the canoe on the Lagoon, to the tricks played on his rivals Patrick was simply a marvel, smoothly transcending from the stage to the big screen effortlessly. I simply loved him in the movie although the makeup people did not do a lot for him. His skin still came out as rough and hewn on the screen.
As the movie evolved, you begin to see chigurl unfold like a beautiful butterfly albeit chubby sexy one. Her natural beauty begin to hold you hostage while demanding her attention. As the script gently rolls from the Hollywood artificial copy to more original material you see her come home at last. The English becomes better spoken, the blockings and the chigurl signature screams begin to materialise and you can actually feel her loose the chains of copycat creativity and adorn a more acceptable format which is her own.

Her beauty manifests, her confidence and delivery take on a life of their own and she begins to be the giant she was truly born to be. The surprise for me is the Yoruba actor Saheed. He was  a marvel. His timing and comic turns are crazy. The guy is a natural. None for him is the initial jittery of the lead, he grabs the movie and hugs the camera refusing to allow you see him as just a support cast. You will almost feel he was the lead. The moment where he gets his crotch kicked and he grabs it in pain is a scene for cinematic genius I tell you.

The moment of the movie for me was the moment when the police were called in to attack and the fell into reciting the two verses of the National anthem,  that killed me. That made the movie for me and despite my annoyance at the many Hollywood caricature’s I found myself laughing like a fool. By this time, the movie had rolled into more original material and the cast had finally been dropped into familiar terrain and you begin to see super performance. The moment when the Ninja is beaten up and she reveals that she is actually from Awka is another screen moment. By this time I was rolling on the floor and laughing with tears streaming down my cheeks.

I was not surprised that the movie ended in an uproarious climax with Patrick walking away in the distance with Bimbo although another copy cat moment the last 20 minutes of the movie had saved it for me.
I give it four stars and will watch it again. Infact I am taking my staff to go see it again on Friday. Well-done to the producers but less of the Hollywood mimicry next time.

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