Five years ago our heroes the Duckrockers thought they had figured it all out – they had found themselves girlfriends to take to Sione’s wedding and the future was looking bright. Fast-forward five years and things haven’t quite gone as the boys might have planned. Growing up appears to be driving the Duckrockers apart but when they’re confronted with one of life’s unexpected turns and Bolo goes missing, their Minister once again brings them together and sends them on a quest. Their mission: to find Bolo.
Too often sequels fail to capture the freshness, spark and spirit of the original work, especially in the comedy genre, and so it goes with this Kiwi caper.
Sione’s 2: Unfinished Business picks up the saga of four Samoan lads in Auckland five years after their boozy, accident-prone antics in Sione’s Wedding.
The first movie was a raunchy, goofy comedy with slapstick elements which followed the frequently inept efforts of the self-styled Duckrockers to find girlfriends so they could attend a mate’s nuptials.
Conversely, the follow-up is a far less mirthful and engaging exercise. If you enjoyed the original you’ll likely be disappointed with the sequel.
Despite the interval between the two movies, the characters are still trapped in adolescence and appear even more clueless, although one’s married and the other has had kids with his live-in girlfriend.
The second film gets off to an unsteady start as Sione is hit on the head with a basketball, collapses and dies. The cause of death was a brain tumour but his co-worker Bolo (Dave Fane), who threw the ball, seems to blame himself for Sione’s demise and runs off.
Fearing Bolo (who gets upset when no one calls him by his actual name, Paul) may harm himself, the local minister orders Albert (Oscar Kightley), Sefa (Shimpal Lelisi) and Stanley (Iaheto Ah Hi) to find him. They’re soon joined by the fourth Duckrocker, Michael (Robbie Magasiva), who’s Sione’s brother.
Albert, an uptight mama’s boy who couldn’t get a date in the first movie, is happily married to his former colleague Tania (Madeleine Sami) and they’re trying to procreate, so far without success. They’ve moved to the city’s North Shore and he had drifted away from his working class contemporaries.
Sefa and Leilani (Teuila Blakely) are engaged and have two kids but haven’t got around to tying the knot.
Chubby, ebullient Stanley is a trainee assistant deacon in the evangelical Future Church, an unsubtle plot device which sees him struggle with his pledge to give up sex and booze.
Hunky Michael moved to Australia and had a series of flings with married women around the country before hooking up with the unattached Maria (Ayes Tezel). It turns out Michael married Maria but fled when he discovered she belongs to one of Melbourne’s many Mafia families.
Thereafter the slender plot follows two angles as Maria and her brother Tony (Dimitri Baveas), who’s meant to be a dangerous psychopath but comes across as a bland nonentity, pursue Michael and the boys search for Bolo.
The journey through night-time Auckland is light on for memorable incidents and sharp humour, apart from one hilarious encounter with Derek (David Van Horn), a white boy and wannabe gangster who likes rapping with the black lads, and his posse.
The leading four spend a lot of time mugging, shouting, bickering and running about, afforded very few smart one-liners in the screenplay by Kightley and James Griffin. For example, a running 'joke’ which has Stanley misquoting the Bible with lines such as 'the Lord is my leopard" just isn’t funny.
The actors who play the Aussie characters make zero impression and the women generally are relegated to peripheral roles, especially compared with the first movie which allowed Sami and Blakely to show their talent.
Director Simon Bennett, who took charge after Chris Graham directed the first film, shows an unsteady hand with comedy and pacing, while the fantasy sequences involving angels are clumsily inserted.
In short, the film has the tone, look and sensibility of a telemovie. The producers might want to rethink any temptation to do a third outing.