There was something about AY Makun’s “A Trip to Jamaica” that made almost the entire Lagos, it would seem, leave their homes to queue by Cinema Hall 5, Ozone Cinemas, waiting to catch a glimpse of the new flick. What it is was, I couldn’t pinpoint. An anticipation of the boisterous nature of the movie, I guess, prompted a member of the audience to ask out loud, as he walked into the full hall “e don’t start”?
The movie opens on the set of a LIVE- One Lagos Fiesta- with Olamide performing. By the second scene however, it is clear that the movie thrives on the wings of an overflogged Nollywood theme. A man has just come into a town in a foreign country from Nigeria and is about to shame the entirety of his ancestry just to highlight the contrasting levels of development in both countries. We saw this in the famed Osuofia in London and loved the originality. In AY’s 30 Days Atlanta it was tiring. In this movie, it is a chore: as tiresome as the name, Akpos (the name of the lead, AY) and the recycled tales of his famed foolishness.
While it lacked clearly in the originality of its theme; it seemed like a new advert channel for Peak milk and Globacom. But then, Kunle Afolayan’s The CEO started the trend of using movies as full-fledged advert channels. So, it is also not original on this count.
Therefore, I think it might make sense not to look at the quality of the work based on technicality alone but the intention of the producer to make people laugh. Away from its objectionable central theme, the movie is laced with quick wit and innuendos that are not only reflective of the peculiar Nigerian experience but also “worth their weight in laughter.”
The moment Akpos declared “Make God scatter this life make everybody start afresh” when he saw the house they would be lodged in, I knew there was more. He would later say of the bed, “ e soft like today bread” while beckoning on his fiancée, Bola (Funke Akindele), to join him on the bed, adding “spread am make I put butter.”
The constant comparison of cultures, which is the pivot of movies of this kind, continues. Akpos tells his new Jamaican friends that Patoranking and Cynthia Morgan can speak better Patois than them and goes on to put them on the phone. This reveals a critical gap in the characterisation of Akpos. I know it makes sense not to discuss the technicality of the movie, but a promoter that has access to some of the A/B list celebrities in today’s standards is not someone as low-class and unexposed as Akpos. There is some level of exposure that should come with the part. Meanwhile, Akpos running off on the beach after smoking Jamaican weed which he had previously said was no match for Kwale weed is probably one of the major highlights of the movie.
Set in America and Jamaica in parts, AY Makun’s A Trip to Jamaica is a movie of one major plot and then a subplot. A subplot which has the capacity to significantly alter the intensity of the entire movie, is treated as just a subplot with its issues as well. Abigial (Nse Ikpe Etim) is married to a criminal and this bit of the movie dwells on his lifestyle and his subsequent capture in Jamaica. I had hoped it would be well developed. In the end, I was still not clear who the mole was – Abigial?
Through the interaction of Akpos and Bola, some of the peculiarities and bias of the larger society are also brought to the fore. There are the “things African men can get away with that women can’t get away with” stereotypes that Akpos throws at Bola. A specific instance would be when he finds her with Marlon during her swimming lessons. And then, there is the clarity with which Bola’s immediate worry that she did not have ransom to bail her sister points back to a society where kidnapping and ransoms is a full cartel.
In terms of characters, while it would have been great to see more developed characters, I still love the strength of Abigial, played by Nse. The role was made for her. Bola (Funke Akindele) for me struggled to get into character and consistency. It was not clear if she wanted to be Jenifa or a refined young lady, not just in terms of her act, but her language as well.
This movie is more of a remix of the preceding 30 Days in Atlanta, only that it was set in America and Jamaica and instead of two guys, Akpos and his friend, here we have Akpos and his girlfriend. The difference in characters does not, however, stop the story from ending the way the former ended: with the two characters finding true love and living happily ever after.
Once you can look beyond all of the above, you should find elements of the movie to make you laugh. Remember, look at the sole intention of the producer to make people laugh (not his inability to create a piece of art).