Movie Review: AKI AND PAWPAW
The world has come a long way since 2002.
In that time, Osita Iheme and Chinedu Ikedieze have gone from small-time actors to some of the most recognisable faces on the Internet. Their adventures as comedy duo Aki and Pawpaw rival those of foreign acts like Abbott and Costello and with over 100 films to their name, their legacies in Nigerian Cinema are all but assured. In recent times, they have become some of the most popular meme or reaction images on the internet, thus pushing their fame to international heights. Aki and Pawpaw, their newest film and most recent collaboration in quite a while, represents a return to their roots and the core of what made them so popular in the first place.
Helmed by producers Chris Odeh, Mimi Bartels and Agozie Ugwu and directed by Biodun Stephen, this film is actually a remake of Aki na Ukwa, a 2002 production that boosted these two to the limelight and started off their career. Produced by PlayNetwork and FilmOne Entertainment, the film is smarter than it lets on. On the surface of it, there is a plot that involves the lead characters trials around making it in life but learning that with fame comes a lot of issues.
Behind that however, there’s a really interesting layer of meta commentary on the rise of Aki and Pawpaw themselves.
It’s certainly not a coincidence that the two lead characters find their way to fame via social media and the ‘content’ industry, mirroring the recent fame of the real Aki and Pawpaw. The incorporation of more modern elements into the remake is done quite well throughout the story, with character issues arising from rifts being created and at times aired through social media.
Apart from the lead characters, I quite enjoyed the performances of the supporting cast. Special praise should go to Uti Nwachukwu’s character, a hilariously over the top antagonist to one of the side characters. Loudly dressed and armed with a louder personality, he’s someone you’ll either revel in his pettiness or love to hate, both of which are the reactions that the production team was hoping for. Toyin Abraham, Charles Inojie, Amaechi Muonagor, Anita Asuoha (Real Warri Pikin), Stan Nze, MC Lively, Beverly Osu and Chioma Okafor round out the cast, giving performances that assist the leads admirably. The pacing of the film is another aspect I was pleasantly surprised by. The film hummed through its runtime and I was sufficiently entertained. The use of indigenous languages throughout the film was nice to see, and was of course used for a few laughs as well.
Overall, Aki and Pawpaw achieved most of what it set out to do. Featuring a story that highlights the pitfalls of fame while slightly referencing the rise to popularity of the lead characters, this film is not perfect, but nonetheless quite enjoyable. The key to this film’s success was the easy chemistry that 20 years of friendship can bring to a production and the two leads brought that back to the silver screen. It’s nice to have them back in our lives.