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Showmax’s “Dead Serious” Defies Comic Conventions

Comedian Sabinus leads a stellar cast in “Dead Serious,” striking a balance between laughter and poignant drama.
March 9, 2024
7:23 pm
Dead Serious

Produced and directed by Moses Inwang, this Showmax original boldly ventures into more nuanced comedic territory with ” Dead Serious” earning both laughs and introspection through its ambitious blend of whimsy and heartfelt storytelling.


The film centers around Johnny (Sabinus), a kindhearted but perpetually flustered businessman who finds himself smitten with the charming Amara (Sharon Ooja). From their initial chance encounter, a whirlwind romance blossoms, much to the amusement of John’s quick-witted sister Vero (Tomama) and loyal best friend Pato (NasBoi). However, complications arise when Amara’s stubborn father, Mr. Kalu (Nkem Owoh), attempts to orchestrate her marriage to the obnoxiously wealthy Deremi (Deyemi Okanlawon) instead.


What ensues is a delightfully messy exploration of love, family dynamics, and the unpredictable nature of life itself. Inwang deftly juggles tones, seamlessly transitioning from raucous comedy to poignant drama. The humor rarely feels cheap, organically emerging from character-driven scenarios rather than feeling forcibly engineered for set pieces.


Sharon Ooja

However, the film does stumble into pacing pitfalls. Despite an economical two-hour runtime, stretches of excessive dialogue and overacting blunt momentum periodically. Individual comedic bits overstay their welcome through overindulgence. And while admirable to tackle darker themes like depression and suicide, these darker narrative shades struggle to achieve cohesive tonal balance with the more whimsical material.


At the heart remains Sabinus’ charmingly endearing performance as the hapless John. With razor-sharp timing and an everyman likability, the comedian grounds the outrageous plot twists in recognizable humanity. His effervescent chemistry with Ooja’s vibrant Amara provides the core emotional anchor amidst the zany hijinks. You can’t help rooting for their quirky pairing.


The stellar supporting cast keep every scene buzzing with manic energy. Owoh is a riot as the loving but maddeningly stubborn Mr. Kalu, while Okanlawon relishes chewing scenery as the cartoonishly egotistical Deremi. Scene-stealers like Tomama and NasBoi contribute consistent laughs through well-shaded supporting roles rather than one-note caricatures.


“Dead Serious” surprises most through its willingness to tackle weightier themes rare in mainstream Nollywood comedies. Identity, mental health, and societal pressures tangibly permeate beneath every gag or misunderstanding. Just when you think it’s content wallowing in crowd-pleasing antics, the film takes detours into genuinely profound dramatic territory.



And to Inwang’s credit, these narrative risks never feel cynically tacked-on. The melancholic introspection flows organically from the core relationships, enhancing the richness of an already lively character ensemble. However, the uneven balancing act occasionally stumbles, with jarring tonal shifts betraying the production’s cohesive vision.


This tonal inconsistency manifests most egregiously in the climax’s haphazard plotting as too many contrivances and loose threads muddle what should have been an emotionally cathartic culmination. The third act twists rely heavily on convenience rather than feeling fully earned through dedicated setup.


Yet even with its flaws, “Dead Serious” reaffirms the creative ambition behind its mere existence as a tonally adventurous outlier. In a cinematic culture content regurgitating stale comedic formulas ad nauseam, Inwang fearlessly chases an idiosyncratic brand of humor steeped in both joy and thoughtful introspection. The imperfect execution ultimately matters less than the inspired vision motivating every risk.


As Showmax stakes its claim in Nollywood’s streaming future, “Dead Serious” arrives as an immensely entertaining ambassador for cinematic evolution.


Grounded by Sabinus’ breakout turn and a refreshingly heartfelt story of human connections, the film dazzles through its audacity to thumb its nose at conventions. While not every comedic gambit lands, this romantic romp earns its “dead serious” moniker through an admirably ambitious pursuit to make us laugh and ponder in equal measure.


Dead Serious

Release Date: February 14, 2024

Runtime: 2 hours

Streaming Service: Showmax

Director: Moses Inyang

Cast:  Sharon Ooja, Emmanuel Ejekwu, Nkem Owoh, Deyemi Okanlawon, Funny Mallam, Toyin Albert, and Emem Inyang

TNR Scorecard:


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