Disconnect: The Wedding Planner Delivers an Underwhelming Plot About Cultural Exchange.
The film tells a cross-cultural story between Kenya and Nigeria for the global audience but the larger question is, is this the kind of groundbreaking story we need to sell…
●26th January 2023
African filmmaking is breaking boundaries. Several co-production treaties have recently been signed between African talents to further promote transnationalism. One such transnationalism is evident in Netflix’s latest original Kenyan film Disconnect; The Wedding Planner. The film tells a cross-cultural story between Kenya and Nigeria for the global audience but the larger question is, is this the kind of groundbreaking story we need to sell the African narrative to the world?
Disconnect: The Wedding Planner is directed by Nairobi Half-Life filmmaker David ‘Tosh’ Gitonga. In this version of the series, a group of young Nairobi residents attempts to make an investor’s dream wedding a reality. The movie features most of the original cast members, including Pascal Tokodi, Brenda Wairimu, Catherine Kamau, and Brian Ogola, and with the Nigerian integration, the film stars Meg Otanwa, Tope Tadela, and veteran actors Wale Ojo and Francis Onwuchei.
The feature film opens with Otis( Pascal Tokodi), the lead character trying to secure an investment from his Nigerian friend, Dele (Tope Tadela), who is busy planning his wedding with Rita (Meg Otanwa). Desperate to save his dying company, Otis promises to arrange a destination Yoruba wedding for Dele in the seaside city of Mombasa in Kenya. After being scammed by a fake wedding planner, Otis is forced to travel to the beach resort and plan the event himself and enlist the help of his friends.
As the plot progresses, we see Otis, the protagonist, as a divorcee, navigating his love life and struggling business. We also come across Otis’s friend, TK(Catherine Kamau), a successful businesswoman, and the protagonist’s main love interest, who he refuses to commit to because he fears he might lose her. Their friends, Celine and Richard have been dating for four years, but they aren’t in sync with their relationship. Otis’s best friend and business partner, Khalid, is fed up and takes drastic measures to save the business from Otis’s failing hand. And their other friend, Judy, has just found out her fiance was being unfaithful, so she spends a good part of the movie looking sad.
While the film tries to address several themes such as love, betrayal, and loyalty, it refuses to create a proper premise that links all of these stories to the central plot of the film. A lot seems to be going on with the character arcs introduced into the project, making it a tad difficult to keep up with their story development. In this film, characters are introduced and then abruptly dropped, plot points are unresolved, and too many scenes are overdramatized. Their actions don’t follow any rhyme or reason. The characters are generally unlikable and have no real connection to each other, making it hard for the audience to connect their individual and collective stories as a group.
The only thing that Disconnect; The Wedding Planner has going for it is the cinematic style. The cinematographer manages to tell an endearing story with the visuals and showcase of Nigerian traditional weddings creating room for actual representation from the traditional attire to the food. Despite its shortcomings, the motion film offers a lot of valuable insight, and it’s set against the stunning Mombasa backdrop in Kenya.
While the film does deliver poorly with its underwhelming performances from the actors across the board, its setting does create an educative cultural exchange that elevates the viewing experience of the audience. It is quite beautiful to see African filmmakers exchange talents and tell stories across boundaries on a platform such as Netflix, but with the exchange, we must be intentional about the kind of stories we intend to tell if we indeed want to push the African story for the global audience.