LOVE JACKED is a a romantic comedy with a touch of road trip featuring charming characters, family drama and humorous misadventures. The description can be applied to almost any number of romantic comedies, but this does not mean it will be a predictable bore. The recent CRAZY RICH ASIANS treaded similar waters but it won the hearts of audiences as well as made lots of money. That film was smart enough to tap Singapore, an ultra modern city that provided a fresh look to the well-worn genre. LOVE JACKED uses Cape Town, South Africa to provide a varied touch.
When the film opens, Maya (Amber Stephens West) is in trouble and requires a bailout.
Maya is headstrong with artistic ambitions, a strong contrast to what her father Ed (Keith David) wants: a dutiful daughter to run the family hardware store. Ed is shocked when Maya takes her assertions of independence a step further and decides to travel to Africa. While looking for inspiration, she meets Mtumbie (Demetrius Grosse), an African Casanova who sweeps her into a whirlwind romance and the two announce their engagement. When Maya’s father tries to persuade her to forget Africa and return home, her resolve to go ahead with the marriage hardens until she finds Mtumbie in bed with another woman. But rather than admit that her father was right, she tells her family the wedding is on. Drowning her sorrows at a small diner and looking for a way out of her situation, Maya meets pool hustler Malcom (Shamier Anderson) who is on the run from his partner Tyrell (Lyriq Bent). With Malcolm on the run and Maya trying to convince her family she is still engaged, they devise a plan to solve both their situations: Malcolm will hide out from Tyrell pretending to be Maya’s African fiancé Mtumbie.
No prize in guessing that Maya wilful in love with Mtumbie. Myumbie shows up at the airport dressed in African robe speaking with a Nigerian accent. He wins approval of the family even Maya’s father. The story pays homage to the Eddie Murphy Joh Landis’ comedy COMING TO AMERICA, one of Murphy’s funniest comedies. Mtumbie even mentions COMING TO AMERICA in this film.
The scripts adds on a few more obstacles to the romance. Mtumbie is a pool hustler from Quebec (quite funny) who is on the lam from his buddy who wants to kill him. Mtumbie also meets an uncle of maya’s who is expert on anything African – beginning to quiz Mtumbie on his origins. Maya’s sexy cousin starts hitting on Mtumbie. All Harlequin novels contain obstacles that are all overcome at the end for the benefit of the couple finding themselves again.
For a family that owns a hardware store, the family can afford to own a mansion that is unbelievably grand. But movies are normally set in huge mansions with elaborate decor rather than meagre dwellings, realistic to the story or not.
The best thing about the film is actor Demetrius Grosse who can play both the chivalrous romantic hero or the African clown speaking completely with Nigerian accent. He is a hoot and one could watch him forever. Keith David is also hilarious as the father who always has a one-liner under his breath.
Cliches and predictability aside, there are sweet moments of romantic charm. LOVED JACKED is an entertaining light date film for couples with other things in mind on a date.