By: Tejah Wilson

Love Jacked is a new romantic comedy about Maya (Amber Stevens-West), an ambitious artist facing a creative block. She takes a spontaneous trip to Africa in hopes of finding inspiration for her art. Unexpectedly, she comes back home after her month-long trip with a fiance. Her father is not happy when he finds out about the news. He doesn’t believe that the relationship is real or will last.

Her father wasn’t wrong, as her “perfect” and handsome fiance cheated on her not too long after he proposed. Maya chooses not to tell her family the truth. Instead, she spends the entire film covering up her lie with the help of Malcolm (Shamier Anderson), a pool hustler she meets at a diner.

A Rom-com with a Relatable Lead

The film was fun to watch and Maya’s storyline is one that many can relate to. She is struggling to reach her dreams and decides to take a leap of faith. Maya is in a creative rut and seeks a change in her life. Loss of motivation and creative inspiration is a problem that many go through. Just as Maya, many use traveling as a means of gaining inspiration. Traveling can help expand a person’s perspective and open their minds because of the exposure to different cultures, food, art, people, and a new way of life.

The film definitely highlights the benefits of creating change in one’s life. Often times, people find that implementing change in their lives can help get them back on track when stuck. The change can be a change in your mindset, a job change, or like Maya, a change in location. Now, it’s important to note that trial and error is a big part of life. Maya learns this when she realizes that traveling may not have been the change she needed. She realizes that she needs something else and that’s completely okay. There isn’t a rulebook to life and that’s a lesson that one can take from this film.

A Classic and Funny Setup

The location that Maya choose to travel to is Cape Town, South Africa. The directors choice to highlight the developed and modern side of Africa was refreshing to see. While in Cape Town, Maya meets Mtumbie (Demetrius Grosse) and he instantly sweeps her off her feet. Maya is smitten by him. She’s so smitten that she says yes when he unexpectedly proposes to her. She tells her family instantly. Unfortunately, she catches Mtumbie cheating soon after he proposes. When Maya goes back home, she struggles to make a decision on her next move. She chooses not to tell her family about the incident and instead lies about Mtumbie coming to visit.

When Maya comes back to her hometown she meets Malcolm. Viewers are introduced to Malcolm and get a glimpse of his backstory and life before he meets Maya at a diner. Once the two meet, they click almost instantly. Maya talks about her newfound dilemma and Malcolm listens, flirts, and makes her laugh. Viewers soon find out that Malcolm is on the run from his pool hustler companion and he ends up offering to pretend to be Mtumbie in exchange for Maya helping him escape.

When it’s time for Malcolm to meet Maya’s family, he overly exaggerates Mtumbie’s South African/Nigerian identity. It’s hilarious to watch him play his “role” of Mtumbie. The rest of the film follows Malcolm meeting Maya’s family while they prepare for their wedding. Watching Malcolm pretend to be Mtumbie and watching Maya’s reaction to it is the basis of the comedy in the film.

A Few Faces You May Recognize

There are many familiar faces in Love Jacked and each plays their role well. One person you may recognize is comedian Mike Epps. Epps plays Maya’s uncle, who just so happens to be Afrophile. His character and scenes were among the funniest of the film. It was intriguing to watch his interactions with Malcolm who knows little to nothing about Africa, yet is pretending to be South African. 

The female lead, Maya, is played by Amber Stevens-West (22 Jump Street, Happy Together). Her character is funny, fierce, and a little awkward at times, but she’s real. Maya is naturally beautiful and sexy without trying to be. Malcolm, the male lead, is the handsome and charming pool hustler that Maya meets at the diner. Malcolm is extremely likable and hilarious. Fans of the SyFy show Wynona Earp will recognize Malcolm’s face as that of Dolls (who left the show at the end of season two).

Another essential character to this film is Maya’s loving but strict father. Her father is played by Keith David. He is tough on Maya and doesn’t seem to understand her dreams of being an artist, but the love he has for her is very evident. The relationship Maya has with her father is one that many creatives can relate to. The family may not always understand your decisions, but Maya chooses to follow her dreams anyway.

Maya’s grandmother, Rose, is played by the legendary Marla Gibbs (227, The Jeffersons). Rose is wise and feisty. She is also very supportive of Maya. Gibb’s character adds old-school comedy to the film and you can’t help but smile and giggle at her jokes. Maria Gibbs daughter, Angela Gibbs, plays Maya’s aunt Clara. Aunt Clara is Maya’s warm-hearted and fun mother figure. Just as Rose, Clara is also supportive of Maya and her ventures.

The other members of the cast include Demetrius Grosse who plays the handsome Mtumbie. Lyriq Bent (She’s Gotta Have It, Tyler Perry’s Acrimony) plays Tyrell, the pool hustling partner that Malcolm is running away from, and Nicole Lyn plays Naomi, Maya’s sassy attention-seeking cousin.  

Love Jacked is a Great Date Movie

Overall, Loved Jacked is a great film to watch with your boo, best friends, or family. The film is funny and cute. The cast really helps bring the film together. There was a missed opportunity to capture the evolution of Maya and Malcolm’s romance, however. There were a few scenes where the two shared intimate moments, it wasn’t enough exposition to make their love in the end truly believable.

Despite this, Loved Jacked did not disappoint in the entertaining department. When watching, it’s important to keep in mind that Love Jacked is a romantic comedy and should not be taken too seriously. If you’re looking for a rom-com to watch after a long week of work, school or just life I recommend going to see Love Jacked.

Loved Jacked is playing in theaters now.