With mischievous nods made fun by a few twists and turns, “A Naija Christmas” might seem like an entertaining, albeit middle ground, romantic holiday comedy. Only that road cuts through Lagos, Nigeria.
As the Nigerian film industry’s first Christmas comedy since it became a Netflix partner, this romp about three brothers trying to fulfill their mother’s holiday wish is festive and enlightening. Director Kunle Afolayan teases most of the worn-out tropes of holiday movies as he treats viewers to Naija-flavored themes of class, gender, and faith.
After a humiliating gathering where her women’s group reminds her of what she’s missing, Mama (Rachel Oniga, who died earlier this year) has a great proposal for her sons, one meant to push them toward marriage and eventually grandchildren. . Whoever among them manages to get hold of a future wife before Christmas will inherit the parental home.
This will be no small feat. The eldest son, Ugo (Kunle Remi), is a music producer and romantic cad. He is also in debt to a loan shark. Can Ajike (Segilola Ogidan), a nice church girl, change his path to destruction? The middle son, Obi (Efa Iwara), a nerd, recently made an all too public proposal to his girlfriend and boss, Vera (Linda Osifo). His wails went viral. And the youngest son, Chike (Abayomi Alvin), is really in love with a more or less amorous interest, who timidly teases the comedy with a slow reveal.
While her men are bumbling, Mom and her status-conscious friends prepare for the annual Christmas parade. This one should be held, as one member says with trepidation, ‘the ghetto’. Yes, elitism is more than a cameo here – the film is a reminder that some attitudes are never in the spirit of the season.
A Naija Christmas
Not judged. Running time: 2 hours 1 minute. Watch on Netflix.