The boys are back with a brand new mission from god, bringing their distinctive Kiwi charms that are five years older, not much wiser, but still just as funny.
Sione’s Wedding, known as Samoan Wedding around the world, was a 2006 comedy charmer that doubled its modest $2 million budget at the New Zealand box office, an impressive feat for a film that boldly explored the misadventures of four inner-city Samoan “boys” who were struggling to come to terms with adulthood. It was also the subject of a high profile copyright case in New Zealand, successfully alleging that a pirate causes a $500,000 loss in box office dollars, with the guilty employee of the post-production company forced to do 300 hours of community service. Undeterred, writers James Griffin and co-star Oscar Kightley bring us another chapter in the lives of this loveable crew.
In the first film, each of the boys – with a hard won reputation for causing trouble at weddings, parties and anything – had to find girlfriends before the titular wedding so that they would behave themselves or else be banned. Now they are all partially estranged, with the sensible Albert (Oscar Knightley) and Tania (Madeleine Sami) happily married, but struggling to have children. The usually argumentative Sefa (Shimpal Lelisi) and Leilani (Teuila Blakely) have got two kids, but Sefa won’t commit to marriage. Stanley (Iaheto Ah Hi) is training to be a Deacon, and Michael (Robbie Magasiva) has moved to Australia. However, when Sione dies, the Minister (Nathaniel Lees) once again summons them all together to find Bolo (Dave Fane), who blames himself for Sione’s death.
Comedy troupe The Naked Samoans are a bit of a national treasure in New Zealand, with the original members being the creators of bro’Town, an animated adult comedy that ran for 5 years and satirised the boys’ culture of New Zealand. The original Sione’s Wedding did this as well, effectively moving Kiwi comedy to the inner city suburbs of Auckland and showing New Zealand/Polynesian culture in a hyperrealistic comedic light. While the first film, like Sione’s 2: Unfinished Business, is lightly plotted, what it excelled at was in creating an endearing group of characters. As such, the real joy of this follow-up is getting to revisit the characters several years on.
In many ways, Sione’s 2: Unfinished Business surpasses the first film, with much tighter plotting, better characterisation and a higher hit-rate of laughs. The girls get more time in front of the camera, but this is still the boys’ film, but with the core group now the outsiders looking at the other groups of boys with the same satirical eye the first film viewed them with. Making a real effort to move the boys on in their character arc, the film sometimes plays like a page out of the Auckland tourist handbook, but does so with a sense of joy and high-spirits that makes it impossible not to walk away with a silly smile slapped across your face.
Sione’s 2: Unfinished Business was released in Australia on 1 March 2012 from Pinnacle Films.