The screening of Sione's Wedding on telly the other night might have been part of the launchpad for this belated sequel to the 2005 local box office champ. But it was also a telling reminder.

Six years on, that first feature still holds up. It might be remembered as a comedy, but it wasn't a lightweight. It was neatly grounded in the characters - some prototyped in the Naked Samoans' theatre days - and it found laughs in the friction between boozy Kiwi blokedom and Samoan family and cultural values.

It also had visual style and energy, some ripper one-liners, romance and a line in goofy fun. Yes, it is possible to breakdance to an Irish jig, though the pub bouncers won't like it if you do.

It was also about guys we might know, set somewhere we might recognise, and it had a movie's worth of ideas of behind it.


However, its underwhelming sequel is a low-energy affair, one which feels like an overstretched and farcical television episode. While it's supposedly darker - due to a key event early on that sets up the lead quartet's supposed "quest" - what follows is both broader in its comedy and shallower than its predecessor.

Yes, the lead four may be five years older and still wrestling with being grown-ups and/or being in committed relationships. But there's something curiously cartoonish about them this time, and their interactions with each other.

Adding to the silliness is a thinly disguised parody of a well-known local religious figure played with oily conviction by Kirk Torrance, who serves no real purpose to the central story.

It does manage a bit of early intrigue to do with Dave Fane's Bolo - a peripheral character in the first elevated to pivotal here - and just why he is apparently running around Ponsonby and Grey Lynn and upsetting a few of the local palagi women with the other four in lukewarm pursuit. And it does have fun at the expense of Glenfield and some Australians who arrive looking for Michael, the gang's resident Romeo.

But this sure doesn't pass that sequel test: would it be a good idea for a movie all by itself?

Sure, it tries hard to move things on from the wedding-themed first movie but Unfinished Business lacks the spark and the smarts of Sione's Wedding. It's no honeymoon.

Stars: 2.5/5
Cast: Robbie Magasiva, Shimpal Lelisi, Oscar Kightley, Dave Fane, Iaheto Ah Hi
Director: Simon Bennett
Rating: M (sex scenes & offensive language)
Running time: 92 mins
Verdict: Not as funny etc etc...