Egyptian film Fadel w Neama: Big names in a mediocre comedy

Yasser Moheb , Saturday 4 Feb 2023

Fadel w Neama (Fadel and Neama) by Rami Imam is a lackluster comedy that nevertheless scored high in the box office, earning around EGP 17 million since its release in October last year.



Starring Egyptian-Tunisian actress Hend Sabry and Egyptian actor Maged El-Kedwany, the film’s success continues to resonate across the country’s governorates.

The comedy has attracted many viewers with its simple plot and unexpected happy ending.

Neama (Hend Sabry) is a talented cook who, together with her husband Fadel (Maged El-Kedwany), a wise perfectionist, owns a mobile restaurant. However, their activity is displeasing their daughter Laila who is immersed in the virtual world of social networks and their son Ali who feels embarrassed in front of his school friends with the parents’ business.

One day, the couple decides to participate in a cooking contest, but, as luck can be tricky, only some things go as planned. A sequence of adventures begins, and the couple finds themselves chased by a gang. They try to control the situation, hoping to make their children proud of them.

On a dramatic level, this simple story could have been very rich, yet unfortunately, it lacks a necessary flavour. From the first scenes, we realize we do not follow the much advertised comedy and its many comic elements fail to generate much laughter.

This is despite El-Kedwany’s comedic qualifications. In his previous films, El-Kedwany has shown himself capable of making viewers laugh while retaining the dramatic power to make them cry. It is said that even the best actors occasionally fail to deliver; however, in this case, the devil is in the script, tainted with a reasonably spicy deja vu.

The screenwriter Ayman Wattar turns in circles, infusing the drama with a sequence of jokes and linguistic comic effects, all of which seek to make people chuckle in the movie theatre. Unfortunately, an excessive series of gags only unveiled the profound deficiencies of the scenario.

Almost burlesque

The characters are caricatures, and the dialogue is quite heavy. The abundance of the isolated from one another funny sequences and clichés do not have any real dramatic utility. Throughout its 105 minutes, the film is infused with tasteless jokes, forced suspense and adventures where some are flatter than others. It is difficult to grasp where the plot wants to take us, even if many audience members find the film amusing and deserving of a sociological reflection.

In Fadel and Neama, the director Rami Imam, who carved himself a name in blockbuster comedy fiction, has fallen into the trap of slowness and visual chatter. This time, he needed to catch up with the pace needed for a good comedy. 

While the main actors have already proven themselves a thousand times over, they simply lack a good script and better guidance to present something worthy of their talent. 

The names of Hend Sabry and Maged El-Kedwany build expectations. However, the latter comedian underplays Fadel as if he did not believe in the character he performed while keeping the ingredients of the characters from his previous films. 

Unlike El-Kedwany, Hend Sabry overplays her role in an effort to elicit laughter from the audience. Again, nothing unbearable, but – in total – we expected better. 

While trying to find their way in this comic adventure, their usual charisma could not save the day, especially in the eyes of critics. 

The silver lining came with a small group of supporting actors – Sherif Desouky, Mahmoud Hafez and Bayoumi Fouad – who could offer something unique, each in his own right. Mohamad Radwan supported this fun trio, who played his role perfectly. 

In short, despite the galaxy of stars, Fadel and Neama remains a comedy of very average quality, especially due to its predictable scenario and the overplayed segments. The film could work for a TV evening, and its success in the movie theatres can be explained by the general public’s expectations altered by the effect of streaming platforms.

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