by Charles Kirkland
Crazy romantic stories are not limited to rich Asians as The Proposal takes an African-American twist in Love Jacked.
Maya (Amber Stevens West) has a problem. As she tells Malcolm (Shamier Anderson), she is supposed to go home and introduce her family to her wealthy African fiancé Mtumbie (Demetrius Grosse). Unfortunately, Maya caught Mtumbie cheating on her with another woman. As she relates the story, Malcolm, who is on the run from a “friend,” agrees to impersonate Mtumbie in order to help Maya save face. Shortly, Malcolm discovers he may have taken a bigger bite than he can chew as he meets the family including Maya’s father (Keith David) and self-proclaimed African culture expert, Uncle Rufus (Mike Epps).
Love Jacked is written by Robert Adetuyi (Code Name: The Cleaner, Stomp The Yard) and Linda Eskeland and directed by Alfons Adetuyi who crafted the very interesting drama High Chicago along with Robert Adetuyi. The Adetuyis do a great job of dropping nuggets of their African heritage, sensibilities, and culture into this comical tale of love and commitment.
While Amber Stevens West (The Carmichael Show) is certainly intended to be the star of the film, it is Shamier Anderson who owns the spotlight in this role that could prove to be his breakout. It is Anderson’s Malcolm that has to handle the task of deftly (and humorously) escaping and avoiding the interrogations of the family, especially those of Uncle Rufus which to prove to be the driving focus of the comedy in the film. While Anderson’s performance is not worthy of Oscar recognition, of course, it does deserve note that he does most of the work in the film and handles his own well in the presence of the established star West, comedic genius Epps and icons Keith David and Marla Gibbs.
Rated PG-13 for suggestive material, Love Jacked is decently crafted and quite engaging. It is a hilarious yet familiar screwball comedy that liberally borrows themes from many other old rom-coms like The Proposal and other comedies (Johnson Family Reunion, Coming To America) in an attempt to create something that is new but ultimately is something that feels very borrowed. There’s no plot twist or controversy with this film. There’s no groundbreaking direction or even originality in the script, what you see is what you get. Yet what you see is cute and funny. Love Jacked, at its best, works as a wonderful date night matinee or a stuck-in-the-house Saturday night cuddle-up with a friend that will make you feel like love is good. In the end, there is nothing wrong with that.