DIRECTOR: ROBERT PETERS
CAST: AYO MAKUN, FUNKE AKINDELE, NSE-IKPE ETIM, CHRIS ATTOH, PAUL CAMPBELL, DAN DAVIS, ERIC ROBERTS
A trip to Jamaica’s opening scene features Olamide performing at a Lagos fiesta, he performs one of his 2015 mega hits, the scene bears no purpose but it is there anyway. Akpos (AY Makun) proposal to his girlfriend is also part of the opening scene and after that, they plan a trip to see his girlfriend’s sister, Abigail, in Atlanta. Abigail (Nse Ikpe- Etim) is married to a rich man, whose wealth was acquired through different crimes. He also happens to be our villain. When Bola (Funke Akindele) and Akpos visit Abigail in Atlanta, an unexpected event inspires their trip to Jamaica and from there we follow Bola and Akpo’s trip to Jamaica.
I consider AY one of the best comedians in Nigeria. I don’t know any other comedian with such business acumen. His show AY’s Crib was absolutely hilarious. It was a wonderful idea, a very popular idea that paid off but I had no particular expectation for AY’s A Trip to Jamaica after being underwhelmed by 30 Days in Atlanta. I lost count of how many times I saw the trailer of A Trip to Jamaica on Africa Magic, and I was not particularly excited about it, the trailer said enough.
Before considering AY’S contributions to Nollywood, we must realise he is more a businessman with the interest to grow his empire, and by that, his net worth. When businessmen try out a business plan and it becomes successful, they try the same model again, except for those bold enough to keep inventing new strategies and switching up, but not all businessmen are bold. Most of them are concerned about how to make more money and so sometimes a particular strategy sticks for too long. AY proves to be one of those businessmen. With the success of 30 Days in Atlanta, he tries to make more money using his gift as a comedian. The success of 30 Days in Atlanta was more a commercial success than success based on an extraordinary storyline or out of the box technical achievements.
AY has built a reputation for himself as a stand-up comedian, dishing out jokes on stage and with short skits online, so if he promises us a full-length comedy at the cinema price, we would rush to see it. Not all of us can afford a table at his Easter shows. We would rather the cinema jokes. For a popular comedian, the success of his work has everything to do with the name – AY.
On A Trip to Jamaica, AY employs the help of Funke Akindele to bring us comedy that will ‘blow our minds away’; at least that was what they tried to make us believe before we saw the movie. Funke has had a successful outing with Jenifa’s diary. She has her fan base, AY has his. The combination of both should give them a mega-hit but it fails to. There is very little to laugh about, two of the best comedians are put together in a film that is supposed to make us laugh but they try and they fail. They don’t carry their roles as Akpos and Bola with the delight that comedy brings. There is no excitement. A trip to Jamaica is not a film you will leave the cinema and chat about, it lets us down. It is overwhelming in a shallow way, the jokes don’t work. A trip to Jamaica is a quick offering to keep up with the work of 30 Days in Atlanta, and unfortunately, it fails to do enough to make us save to watch it again.
Aside from an attempt at a full-length comedy, it also features sub-themes of sexism, culture clash between the Nigerian culture and the Jamaican culture, there is also the issue of crime, and abuse; the problem is that all these sub-themes are thrown around by the writer and when the average film viewer leaves the cinema, they may have no idea of all these sub-themes. Comedy can also feature serious themes, and comedy is the best way to bring people’s attention to some of the problems in our society, we may laugh when we see it but when we remember it and try to tell someone about it, we feel the truth in it. The writer could have achieved this with more depth focused on these sub-themes, instead. the writer focuses too much on the need to make us laugh with jokes that fail to make us even smile. It tries comedy and it fails to achieve comedy. They also fail to achieve the conversation that should have been started by the sub-themes that were featured in the film.
Brands are also fully advertised in this film. I have a problem with the marketing of brands using films, it is not wrong to have a little advert, the problem is that brands are not marketed creatively in films, if they sponsor or contribute to a film, then they will be forced on us, we are forced to notice them, the same way we are forced to view TV adverts. We can watch a commercial randomly on TV if we need that so badly. We don’t pay to be in the cinema to get random bits of brand adverts. In a Trip to Jamaica, we see Globacom in full display and also Peak Milk is in full display. AY tries to satisfy his sponsors with over the top projection of their products; the problem is that they miss the point if they can do that at an AY show, at least when it comes to film, it should be done more creatively.