Potato Potahto is a 2017 Ghanaian-Nigerian collaboration written and directed by Shirley Frimpong-Manso. It stars Ghanaian and Nigerian actors.
Lulu Wilson (Joselyn Dumas) and Tony (OC Ukeje) are a recently divorced couple who choose to continue living in their old home. This is both out of spite (I can’t let him/her have the house!”) and sentimentality (“It’s my dream house, I can’t leave it.”)
They split the house into her side and his side in an effort to avoid bumping into each other. The drama begins when Tony hires a pretty female house help, seemingly to make Lulu jealous, and Lulu, in turn, hires a hunky young man to help with her chores.
Africans generally have the mentality that dismemberment is preferable to divorce. So, seeing a comedy where divorce isn’t shown as this disgraceful thing is a delight. Even better, Lulu and Tony separate because of their differences, not infertility or adultery or other conditions of divorce that outsiders accept with tight chests and gritted teeth. Marriage doesn’t have to be a do-or-die affair, and their flaws were mishandled enough to dissolve their relationship, if not their love.
Story well told
Lulu is shown to be uptight and endearingly evil, deliberately escalating situations to prove points. But sometimes her reactions are justified. Tony is gentle and peace-seeking, but careless and forgetful, traits that are not conducive to peace. But Lulu is a handful, and his frustration is understandable. The film shows all of this well.
Dumas and Ukeje have undeniable chemistry, and this perfectly manifests as the love-hate relationship that Lulu and Tony have. You can forgive how long the movie is because of how entertaining these two are. One of the best moments is when Tony is choking and chooses death over drinking water from Lulu’s dispenser, until her mother (the wonderful Joke Silva as Mrs Wilson) scolds him. Speaking of Joke Silva, Mrs Wilson is the loving mother that strikes a balance between supporting her daughter’s choices and calling out her bad behavior.
Well done actors!
Most of the characters have at least one moment when their acting wasn’t on point, or their dialogue didn’t flow and joke didn’t land, but overall, all the actors did well. Chris Attoh plays Gabby, the funny, dim-witted beefcake that Lulu hires to annoy Tony.
It’s an unexpected role for Attoh, but he pulls it off. Nikky Samonas is Mirian, Tony’s help, and Kemi Lala Akindoju plays Frances, Lulu’s bestie and the character that is given the honour of saying the movie’s title. Blossom Chukwujekwu is Fred, Tony’s best friend. He inspires neutral feelings in the audience, yet his storyline is what ultimately leads to Lulu and Tony’s reconciliation in a sort of domino effect.
Ending not so good
Potato Potahto’s main issue is how it is this long and still ends with Tony and Lulu not actually dealing with their differences, or beginning the process. It’s a cliche that brings them back together, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But their reconciliation manages to be rushed and a little anticlimactic.
That said, Potato Potahto has beautiful costume design and an amazing score. Dumas especially has a wardrobe you could die for, and Ukeje drops a great theme song, Potato Potahto, with Vector. A lot of passion was put into this movie’s production, and it shows. The simple, colourful animation at the beginning and the end is the icing on the cake. It’s adorable and absolutely entertaining.
Shirley Frimpong-Manso did a great job showing how relationships can end even when people still love each other. But it would have been nice to see how Lulu and Tony manage their resurrected relationship. After all, love doesn’t just erase your flaws.