After a run of original series like Diiche, Crime and Justice Lagos, and Flawsome, Showmax has finally released its first Nigerian original feature, School Run. The film stars Ifeanyi Kalu and Amanda Iriekpen as its torchbearers. In School Run, a series of unfortunate events lead to Bolu’s (Greatness Ewurum) disappearance after he is picked up by a different driver his nanny delegated to pick him. His workaholic parents, Timelehin and Adeola Kalejaiye (Ifeanyi Kalu and Amanda Iriekpen), must now come together and accept the burden of parenthood before they can find their son.
The biggest grouch to have with School Run is its sustained display of mediocrity. While the plot is fertile for drama, the film does little to milk it. And when it does, it never reaches an accomplished level. The plot points are predictable from a mile off, and the actors do little to elevate the material thrust in their hands. Perhaps more problematic are the child actors, who we spend a chunk of the runtime with. The child actors are amateurs, although Greatness Ewurum looks like he is some polishing away to becoming a professional. Bolu has found himself in an alien environment with children from a much lower class than his. While some of the scenarios with the children are uniquely child-like, like the gaming scene, there is no absolute believability in the children’s performance to accompany these scenarios.
The viewer is left adrift, trudging through multiple predictable scenes of amplified drama worsened by lackluster performances. Nothing beyond the perseverance to see it through inspires interest. Not the cinematography. Not the lighting. Not the dialogues. Not the performance. The acting and line deliveries are incredibly mechanical in some scenes. And this is all before we arrive at the impractical resolution.
Unconfident about the police’s ability to find his son, Timilehin takes matters into his own hands. He tracks Bolu’s phone and finds the men who eventually kidnapped him. Then he talks his way out of the conflict before violently disarming the kidnapper.
It is difficult to see how Timilehin (Ifeanyi Kalu), an upper-class middle-aged man, would disarm an armed kidnapper who is clearly menacing and has been established throughout the film as desperate. Perhaps it would have been more acceptable if Sly’s amenable accomplice had disarmed him and not Timilehin. It might be possible, but how true would that be in this world, and within the physical limitations placed on this character?
Finally, it is hard to get the sense that anything concrete has changed in the film’s world after all that has happened. Bolu does learn there are adventures in the trenches that match Disneyland’s, but what about the parents—the mother especially? How do we know she has found the balance between motherhood and ambition; and even the father himself? All they did were the natural expectations of parents with missing children. Where is the evidence of a lesson learnt?
There is a flatness in School Run that plagues the characters and translates as the absence of growth. It is a symptom of the film’s predictability. Only a complete rewrite would fix those limitations. But unfortunately, the Edward Uka-directed School Run has already crossed that bridge.
School Run premiered on December 15, 2023, on Showmax.
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- The pepper seller is clearly an amateur.
- If one yields to temptation, then it wouldn’t be out of place to argue that only a few of the actors in the film have redeemable acting abilities.