A trip to Jamaica is a thoroughly enjoyable and humorous movie that travels the locations Lagos to the United States to Jamaica.
It makes use of loads of conflicts, and Nse Ikpe Etim does a good job creating tension with her character’s multiple emotional meltdowns.
The movie sets situations that generally lead to a comic relief. But do these situations sit well on a theme based storyboard? Are they progressive, and do they contribute to the general well-being of the plot? Do the characters resonate with the audience? Would the spoken words be appreciated beyond the borders of Nigeria and West Africa? Does the movie just waste our time in some places, and is it worth the waste? These are important issues worth looking into.
The movie starts with a newly engaged Akpos (AY) and Bola (Jenifa) travelling to meet Bola’s sister, Abigail, (Nse Ikpe Etim) and her husband, Michael. Conflict and hilarity occurs afterwards.
A Trip to Jamaica tries to explore a number of themes, but fails in taking them to great emotional and intellectual heights.
Unhappy marriages and their issues: The movie makes it clear that Abigail is unhappy because of her husband’s illegal dealings, however, we do not see how it directly affects her in any way. What makes her different from majority of Nigerian women who wouldn’t mind this money influx? Her moral standards aren’t explored in detail in this movie, and it would be nice to see that she is a church girl who prays for an unchanging husband, or that she gets direct threats from the drug lords. Michael’s threats don’t seem enough. We need more.
Unhealthy relationships: The filmmaker indulges in the idea of cheating to find happiness. Although, not a healthy idea to push forward, it pays off in the end for Akpos and Bola. Bola clarifies that she’s a better person when she’s with the new guy, and we briefly see Akpos being a better person as well with his new girl, but this isn’t thorough enough, as both relationships are just new. The audience needs to see that this sort of thing really works, and this movie fails in this aspect.
Illegal Business: This is vaguely explored in this movie. Everyone keeps talking about some shipment gone wrong, and making threats everywhere. Also, the initial exploration of the casino game and the whole existing-boss digest, only is successful in making the audience imagine Michael has got something to do with them. Everything else is just pure vague! We need to be shown what this business truly entails. Perhaps, a detailed research in this area, with a little help from script experts in America and Jamaica would have been of great help. 5/10
The movie has an interesting sub-plot, but fails in its development. Weren’t this movie about Akpos and Bola, I’d say they be the sub-plot, and Michael’s dirty deal the major plot, as it’s a more serious issue. The drug lords et al are only shown making threats every time; we do not ever get to see the build up to all this drama they try to create. We only see people making calls and talking about having their eyes everywhere, not detailed enough.
A good semblance of this kind of movie endeavour could be found in Ride Along (2014) and Ride Along 2 (2016). Kevin Hart’s character as this Akpos, and Ice Cube’s as Michael’s. The comedy of Ride Along is infused with the detective investigation as they go, and so succeeds as intellectual humour. Whereas, with A Trip to Jamaica, the comedy has nothing to do with the illegal dealings, till the end where it is forced in, and fails woefully to make much sense, despite the visual demonstration of a kind of “Warri boy nor dey carry last” mantra.
Quite a huge number of standalone scenes that do not progress the story, and which the filmmaker uses to pad this movie exist in A Trip to Jamaica. Quite deceptive too, as they thoroughly engage the Nigerian audience: the Jamaican clan on the beach, the fight over Akpos sidekick that ends in bed, the golf game and Akpos’ goofiness. Irrespective, the Sex on the Beach joke does a good job progressing the intimacy between Akpos and the Jamaican beauty.
Speaking of goof, if the drug Lords already have what they want, Michael and his wife, why do they need to stop on the way to kidnap innocent Akpos? There are no clear indications in the movie that Akpos was also a threat. We do not see the drug Lords talk about him or even accuse him of anything in the end.
The Jamaican boy sent from America to Jamaica isn’t clearly seen failing in his attempt to capture, or kill Michael, why then are we shown someone that looks like him much later begging for his life? This is inappropriate cheating of audience, and depriving them of their rights to cohesion. I can’t begin to list the amount of other things that do cheat the audience!
We also do not see what deal Michael is threatening someone over the phone about. These are extremely vague and could use the helping of proper development. Perhaps, Abigail his wife, could produce documents and pictures that detail what all these are about, but nothing like that ever happens.
The audience do not really care about all these other “evil” people, and they bring no tension as at when the trio are eventually kidnapped. 2/10
Too many characters are underdeveloped in this movie that could have benefited from an inclusion in the comedy or dirty dealings. The characters meant for comedy are strictly comical and vis visa. The ones that are plain are just that, plain!
The star characters, Patoranking and Cynthia Morgan, would have been a proper treat if they progressed the plot, and the extras’ dialogues could have been shared for other more significant characters. For example, the movie could have happened in such a way that Bola’s new guy speaks with the Nigerian artistes, instead of the random Jamaican dudes on the beach.
Akpos appeared a bit too aware of the real world, and could be caught looking into the camera a few times. This disconnects the audience from the movie world, as we see AY as we know him—a Nigerian comedian, and certainly not a trained or born actor. His act also seems not thoroughly rehearsed and come off a bit rusty; the same can be said about Bola’s character. Both characters seem to not have been following the script and their performances fall short of what is expected in a script.
It is quite interesting seeing Michael as an evil person who surprisingly knows how to keep his calm. The audience feels a lot of tension when the comical couple go over the top with him, but he proves to be a perfect gentleman to them. This is a strong theme, as is the reality of many married people today. Their spouses are only evil behind close doors.
Abigail was exquisite in her act, and her new catch makes the ladies in the audience go wild. Very good faces (and bodies) for film. Sex sells when done properly. Can’t say the same for what Akpos and Bola were selling. But, hey, this is comedy. 4/10
Surprisingly, this movie manages to scale through telling and not showing a little; it does show a lot, although not the right things. It also escapes the trap of having talking-heads; moments that could be described as talking heads are filled with heated confrontations, and so they scale through. This is a little impressive, and one attribute that makes me love A Trip to Jamaica. However, the movie doesn’t escape being generally too on-the-nose.
AY’s (Akpos) comedy versus Jenifa’s (Bola) craze is a unique and comical exploration that could be described by many as a breath of fresh air. Akpos tackles Bola in his usual proper Warri-boy fashion, and she responds likewise as a local Yoruba woman. In as much as it is pure enjoyable, the problem with these chosen languages abides in its lengthy delivery. It would come off crispier if done briskly.
Although, there are subtitles in A Trip to Jamaica explaining to an unfamiliar audience what’s what, they do not seem to provide the same flavor as do the original spoken words. Many unfamiliar audience may not find these dialogues funny (as Nigerians do) in the end. What a pain this movie would be to watch. It would have been nice to have these done sparingly like how it is done with Jamaican movies we’ve seen.
Speaking of how the Jamaican movies do dialogue, thankfully, A Trip to Jamaica explores Jamaican Creole as it really is at some point, and this creole proves to not sound as interesting, as clear, or as familiar as what the audience is used to in other Jamaican movies. It is even shown in the reaction of the Wannabe-Jamaican Nigerian musical stars, Patoranking and Cynthia Morgan in the movie. This might be because the Jamaican movies aiming for international audience have watered down this creole dialogue for film and worldwide understanding. Do Akpos and Bola’s language feel this watered down? Not so much from my stand-point. 3/10
The movie’s got actions and conflicts working for it. It moves very quickly in most parts, and the audience aren’t tired by the end of the movie. This may not be the same effect on a foreign audience who is not familiar with the movie’s major language of delivery, but I wish to believe it moves much quickly for them too.
Moreover, in places where Akpos displays his insanity, it takes a while before it comes to an end, and the audience get a little bored, making the scenes fail to leave when the ovation was loudest. Thankfully, the scenes that end early outnumber the ones that do not. 7/10
In the end, I genuinely enjoyed the movie. There surely is something this filmmaker is doing well in his movies, but it certainly is not in the area of storytelling (or movie writing). 21/50.
Isedehi Aigbogun, also known as ISD, is a staunch academic, holding a B.A., M.A., and PhD (in view) in English Language.
She’s a Screenwriter, Screenplay Analyst, Consultant, and Film Scriptic.