BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
We love to laugh. It is probably the most universally unifying phenomenon there is. Which is why, in spite of the mixed reactions the movie elicited, 3O Days to Atlanta was a hit, perhaps the biggest hit in Nigerian Cinema history. So when AY Makun came up with his new movie, A Trip To Jamaica, it didn’t matter that some had vowed not to see it. The moment I got to the cinema, it was full to its brim with people relaxed in cushioned seats, ready to laugh.
A Trip to Jamaica stars the same Akpors from the previous film, but with entirely new people. Here, Akpos (AY Makun) is engaged to Bola (Funke Akindele), his girlfriend. They both go on a vacation to the United States to visit Bola’s cousin, Abigail (Nse Ikpe-Etim), who is married to an American husband, Mike (Dan Davis). Mike proposes a trip to Jamaica, and they get very excited about it, but unknown to them, it is a ploy to flee his pursuers. They follow him to Jamaica, and while everyone seems to be having fun and meeting people they are attracted to, the pursuers catch up to them and kidnap them. They escape narrowly and go on to be with the new people they met on the trip.
The story is cliché-ridden. The resolution is a load of crap. It reminds me of those old movies where guns shoot in slow motion and the movie characters think in reverse. Half the time, we have to strain to hear what the Jamaican criminal lord (Paul Campbell) is saying. His men seem slow and utterly stupid, and even when the tables turn and AY manages to get the gun, the scene is still very useless. It would seem like AY compiled a number of jokes, then made a film around them. The story is disjointed and slow and silly. It is everything a good film isn’t.
In comparison to Ayo Makun’s previous film, A Trip to Jamaica pales in its acting. It also pales in its humor, considering that, while Funke Akindele is cast to make the movie funnier, all she does is douse the humor. It would seem that her Jenifa persona stereotype comes to the fore here again, and since she isn’t speaking her characteristic terrible grammar, the humor juices refuse to flow. The few places where she manages to make us laugh, it isn’t because of what she says but what she does. Dan Davis makes me wonder why he is an actor. Paul Cambell overdoes his role so much that it lacks colour and makes one wince and I really don’t see the point for Eric Roberts in this film; even if they took him out, the film would go on okay. Rebecca Silvera as AY’s love interest is bearable. Nse Ikpe-Etim is disappointing, and Chris Attoh as Tayo is meh. This is probably no fault of theirs entirely, but of a storyline that is tiring. At some point you begin to check the time just to understand why the movie isn’t over yet.
In fairness, there were moments in the movie that had the entire cinema cackling. One of these was when Patoranking and Cynthia Morgan were featured to speak Patois. Other than this, and a few more (“Jah Rasta fried rice” made me laugh so hard), there wasn’t much amusement. Interestingly, this movie, and Bovi’s ‘It’s her day’ are in cinemas about the same time, both created and starred by renowned comedians on the Nigerian scene. While Bovi’s movie infuses its humour in its story, AY’s movie forces a shabby story around a couple of jokes, hoping to make something whole of it. He spends so much, and shoots it in three different cities of the world, but this still doesn’t help.
A trip to Jamaica was directed by Robert O Peters, written by AY and Dianne Diaz, and produced by AY. I enjoy the idea of wanting to make a movie about the adventures of Akpors all over the world (‘The Adventures of Akpors’ would probably make a great title), but just because the applause is high or the crowd is on their feet doesn’t mean we should be in a hurry to impress. I think A Trip To Jamaica wasn’t properly thought out, and if there is a next installment, it’d take a miracle for us to want to see it after this epic fail.