Tade Ogidan’s “Gold Statue” is long but not a waste of time – Peju Akande

Directed by Tade Ogidan and starring  Gabriel Afolayan, Kunle Remi, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Sola Sobowale, Ali Baba, Segun Arinze, Nobert Young, Gloria Anozie Young, Tina Mba, Judith Audu, Yvonne Jegede, Woli Arole…

Gold Statue is replete with Nollywood big wigs. In America they would have described it as having an ensemble cast meaning that it is full of big stars and names all interconnecting.

Usually when big stars populate a movie, either of two things often happen; it becomes a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth or too many cooks making the broth super. The latter applies in Gold Statue, no one star eclipses the other, each dazzles in their assigned roles.

Gold Statue is hilarious! It’s the story of Wale and Chike, two young men in pursuit of a gold statue buried somewhere in the South West of the country and believed to be worth millions of dollars. In their quest to find the gold statue, the duo encounter a number of hilarious and often near death situations that make the movie fun to watch.

Gold Statue opens with what one might consider a slight nod to Blue Streak, the 1999 American comedy featuring Martin Lawrence, Dave Chapelle and Luke Wilson among others. Although, Tade Ogidan is reported to have begun scripting this movie way back in 1993 yet the similarity between the two movies is eerie. In Blue Streak, Martin Lawrence is a jewel thief who stole a huge diamond and hid his catch in the ceiling of an old building before he was caught and sent to jail. He did his time and upon coming out from prison, went looking to retrieve his haul…behold, a police station had been established right in the building he hid the diamond. So how does a crook enter into a police station to retrieve his loot?

The movie then unravels around his funny attempts to get into the Police station to retrieve the diamond; this in a nutshell is what Gold Statue too, is all about.

Two young friends, Wale and Chike, played by Gabriel Afolayan and Kunle Remi respectively, were told about a gold statue, first by their lecturer and later by Wale’s grandfather. They went hunting for it and discovered to their amazement that it sits below a prison somewhere in Ilesha. They did everything and sometimes with hilarious consequences, to get into the prison to dig out the statue!

Gold Statue is fun to watch, the director should be given kudos for sparing us the use of clichéd elements to create fun; the characters are engaging, the dialogue is mad! From scenes in the courtroom to prison cells where hardened criminals like Hammer, played by Kelvin Ikeduba, calling on God to bless his escape from jail and prison girls, like Samira, played by Bisola Aiyeola, speaking phonay and living lavishly behind bars, Gold Statue gives you something to laugh about, especially the epilogue, where two prisoners played by Yinka Akanbi and Tunji Bamishigbi banter about who has been in prison the longest.

The movie portrays us, Nigerians, just the way we are; it throws up the rot in the system, the sycophants, the puritans, no, make that the annoying, stuck up puritans like Antar, played by Nobert Young – he is such a pain in the mid-section and truly we can identify his type among us; Gold Statue is replete with ribaldry like the convo between Hammer, Rambo and Gogo when they crash in on the dug-up tunnel.

Gold statue throws up two faced Nigerians like Comptroller Ogoro, the corrupt Prison warden played by Ali Baba. We see family values shredded and cankerworms exposed but it shows all of these in a comedic manner. It’s no wonder the movie is fun to watch.

In terms of production technicalities, the movie scores high. The picture quality and sound is top notch. Well, no less is expected from someone of Tade Ogidan’s caliber. He did not disappoint on several fronts, particularly the underground scenes. The music score is on point, like when Antar is railing against Wale when he is detailed along with some prisoners to work outside the prison and Dbanj’s Mobo lo’won won (I’ve escaped from them) is cued in. The lyrics enhance the scene, it tells the audience that Wale is actually mocking Antar, telling the warder he could rail all he wants because at the end Wale will escape prison!

The visuals are very believable and do not look contrived, nor do they smack of the usual Nollywood hurriedly created scenes as if the director suddenly realizes he would need to shoot in those places.

All said, Gold statute is unnecessarily too long. Two hours is a lot of time to sit and watch a movie that could easily have been wrapped up 30 minutes earlier than the running time. In Nollywood, our love for story telling often leads to overkill. There are several scenes that could easily have been scrapped to make it tighter.

The scene in Ogoro’s office where self-righteous Antar railed against his boss is too long, same thing where Wale’s parents encountered Ogoro about their son and same thing where Wale’s parents go on about supporting their son; same thing in the female cell, the scenes and dialogue are too long.

Speaking of the female prison, that scene is too contrived, too good, too pretty a picture to truly sell the idea that Nigerian female prison cells can be this beautiful. Yes, there are special prisoners who have their cells decorated and spruced up for their needs, I can imagine that top politicians turned jail birds would have had prison cells refurbished for their unique needs but to have all of those conveniences like we see like in that female cell in Gold Statue…in Nigeria? Hmm, methinks the scenes are farfetched. But do they necessarily take away from the message ofthe movie, by no means.

What the movie lacks in brevity, it makes up for in the cast of its characters.

Wale’s facial expressions are killers! The look he had when he discovered the spot where the statue was buried had become a prison is spot-on and when the judge sentences him to a prison in Calabar, rather than Ilesha where he had hoped to be sent, you almost piss in your pants at his consternation.

Richard-Mofe Damijo who plays Dad to Wale is the typical rich Nigerian father who though, provides for his children, insists they be raised the traditional way. His wife, Gracie, played by Sola Sobowale is also the typical, drama queen mother; she shouts when she absolutely doesn’t need to and this to my mind is now her stock-in-trade. Shouting and letting-go of her wrapper is something she has perfected to a “T” in virtually every movie and ad she’s been.  Me thinks she over did it in Gold statue, this of course does not take away from the fact that she is a fine actress who delivers beautifully…erm when she isn’t screaming.

By and large, Gold Statue, though pretty long, is no waste of time, it’s a good drama, the comedy is great and the actors, fantastic!

Gold Statue is currently streaming on Netflix!

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