No movie in the history of the Ghanaian industry has drawn the budget, cast or marketing campaign put on for Kofas Media’s latest production ‘John and John’.
GhanaCelebrities.Com’s film critic, Godwin Nii-Armah went to see for himself to decide if it’s worth all the hype.
The movie delivers in more ways than one, with rib cracking scenes, amateur schemes, and standout performances from the marquee cast. The direction was superb, and the story largely stayed faithful to the South African one it’s adapted from – ‘Skeem’.
Aside a few glitches, ‘John and John’ is the perfect comedy for anyone, bringing all your favourite actors together in one setting, watching them deliver joke after joke which would leave you clutching your sides. Usually, movies with such a cast run a risk of overpromising and under-delivering but Kofi Asamoah found the right mix – utilizing the young stars to their max whilst limiting the veterans to cameo roles.
‘John and John’ entices you with its marquee cast, historic budget and the filmmaking genius of Kofas, bringing your anticipation to massive levels – and at the end, you’ll certainly go home without blue balls – completely sated.
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‘John and John’ tells the story of the two aptly named Johns (Lilwin and Kalybos) who just completed a $1m gold deal and had to deliver the money to their boss. On the way, their car breaks down and with nowhere to go, the two Johns decided to stay at a hotel for the night.
Having inadvertently spilled their cash in the full glare of the entire hotel, our two heroes now have to survive the night with every Tom, Dick and Harry in the hotel gunning for that life changing $1m.
The scheming, plotting and backstabbing commenced from there as the entire hotel played a game of telephone with the cash, which kept changing hands after John and John were initially out-witted for it. As everyone tried to get their hands on that money, friends turned to foes, with no one sure of whom they could trust.
Many Ghanaian movies suffer from overacting, the tendency to act soo much that it becomes too fake. Acting is a delicate trade, requiring one to place themselves in made up situations and act as if they were real. The trick is to act enough to mimic exactly what you’re needed to portray, but too much makes it obvious one is acting.
One of the biggest gripes one can find about the Ghanaian movie industry is overacting. Made up accents, unrealistic scenarios, stilted delivery of lines – it’s much more common to find an overacted movie than a superbly acted one. Kofas media took a unique approach to solving this issue, which is cram the movie with so many stars their delivery of what is expected is all but assured.
And across board, almost all the big stars delivered (those with enough screen time anyway). The two main characters, ‘John and John’ (Kalybos and Lilwin) were astounding, Nana Ama McBrown and her little troupe of friends played their parts to a tee (with a standout performance by Selly Galley).
The mechanic duo of John Dumelo and Funny Face complemented each other excellently, whilst the MVP of the entire show for me, personally, was Bishop Bernard Nyarko’s performance as ‘Kwame Abebrese’ – the everyday man with the solution to all your problems. Roselyn Ngissah and her husband Yaw Dabo also provided plenty laughs, whilst Kalybos and Ahuofe Patri continued to show their on-screen chemistry, which remains high so many years after the Boys Kasa series first debuted.
Star of the Show
Kojo Nkansah came of age with this movie, outshining all his co-stars with a near flawless performance. His delivery of his lines in English contained the right amount of his own limitations with the language but enough awareness to make the delivery the funniest on-screen ever heard. He played the jovial buffoon who turns mean when business is on the table superbly, whilst retaining his spectacular ability to make one guffaw with simply a word, a look or an action.
The aforementioned Kwame Abebrese, played by Bishop Bernard Nyarko. Running around offering to help, he was as greedy and duplicitous as everyone else in the hotel, but offered immense entertainment value with his negotiating skills and attempts to spin any situation to his advantage.
We don’t know if it’s the character or the man but Bishop Nyarko deserves kudos for that performance.
Kofi Asamoah is one of the best in the game currently, and for good reason. ‘John and John’ might have a plot hole or two but the direction is near flawless. The picture and sound quality (another constant problem with Ghanaian movies) were superb, and the use of music/sound effect meshes effortlessly with the plot, not distract from it.
Like every movie, ‘John and John’ has its flaws. The story does well to keep the chase for the money, as preposterous as it may sound, on a realistic level, with the actions and motivations of characters clearly evident to the viewer.
However, one part it fails is when the ladies decide to entrust their cash to Bishop Nyarko’s character based on some pathetic reasoning he gave them. They had the money, they had a gun – they held all the aces and had no reason to let him take off with their money.
Another problem related to the visual effect of the electrified fence electrocuting actor Yaw Dabo. For a movie with that budget they surely should have had a more realistic effect.
The story of ‘John and John’ is the story of greed, as evidenced by its initial title ‘Greedy Bastards’. And as humorous as the story may be, at its core is a message we can all ponder about – how we might behave if we ever fell into a similar situation.
It makes us ask hard questions of ourselves – even if we might not like what it reveals.
Critic’s rating – 4.0 stars