Writers James Griffin and Oscar Kightley first proposed a sequel to Sione's Wedding back in 2006 but, despite the landmark success of that movie, nearly six years have now passed since the original was released.
Explaining that time lapse in the lives of their characters was clearly the most substantial challenge Kightley and Griffin faced in producing this sequel, and their answer comes in the catalytic events of the opening scenes, which makers South Pacific Pictures asked (very nicely) that we don't reveal.
So we won't, except to say it ain't about a wedding this time.
Essentially, Sione's 2 becomes a quest movie, sending the boys off on a mission designed to show that they've finally grown up.
Of course, they haven't quite. One of the appeals of Sione's 2 is that the entire core cast have returned, and we know their characters so well: nerdy Albert (Kightley), pants-man Michael (Robbie Magasiva), drunk Sefa (Shimpal Lelisi), impressionable Stanley (Iaheto Ah Hi) and Dave Fane's otherworldly Bolo.
Now Michael is living offshore, Albert is living on the Shore, Sefa is unemployed and Stanley has found God and, in particular, Kirk Torrance's entertaining and thinly disguised version of Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki.
The shared histories of those lead actors again translates well to an on-screen understanding which keeps the pace quick and the story rolling.
Despite a somewhat darker plot, it retains the resolutely cheerful, upbeat tone of Sione the first.
It also has neatly etched cameos (I do like Mario Gaoa's saturnine cab driver) and a side attraction of location-spotting.
But some of the humour is perhaps a little insular.
I found the funniest part to be a riff by Kightley's character Albert - tussling with the ennui of middle- aged, middle-class life away from his old mates - about the soullessness of Glenfield.
It's a joke any Aucklander will appreciate but which may be lost in the provinces and completely meaningless to viewers further afield.
The other challenge of a five- year gap is the anticipation involved. Sione's Wedding, fresh, genuinely funny and innovative, was something special in New Zealand cinema.
Sione's 2 won't and never could have attained quite that status, but seen on its own merits, it proves worth the wait.
Sione's 2: Unfinished Business
Runtime: 92 mins
- Sunday Star Times
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