Movie title: Christmas in Miami

Running time: 2 hours

Date released: December 24, 2021

Director: Robert Peters

Writers: Ayo Makun, Patrick Nnamani and Keni Ogunlola

Lead cast: Ayo Makun, Osita Iheme, Richard Mofe-Damijo, IK Ogbonna, Kent Morita, Raquel Lamanna, Manoj Chandra, Malcolm Burtchett, Nadya Marie, Tanya Price, Barry Piacente and Catherine Olsen.

Anyone who has seen ‘Merry Men 1 & 2’ and other films produced by comedian, Ayo Makun, also known as AY, should be ready for a pleasant surprise with ‘Christmas in Miami.’

AY is known for his predictable ‘Yankee’ movie storylines but with ‘Christmas in Miami’ comes a dramatic twist, which to some extent, makes the movie pretty good.

It’s not surprising that the film was a box office hit having made N100.7m in its opening week in Nigerian cinemas. This is according to figures compiled by the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN).

‘Christmas in Miami’ is the fourth installment of the Akpos franchise created by AY.

PLOT Christmas in Miami begins with the Dafe family consisting of a father, Atiboroko Oghenedafe (RMD) and his two sons Raphael (Osita Iheme) and Akpos ( AY) who are billed to represent Nigeria at the intercontinental Christmas Fiesta in Miami, U.S.

The event is a unifying fiesta that would bring together six families from six countries across five continents, to spend the week leading up to Christmas together, on an exotic island in Miami, USA.

Typical of the Nigerian ‘Africa time’ which was depicted in the first few scenes of the movie, the other five families in the reality show- Americans, British, Brazilians, Indians, and Chinese- all had to wait for the arrival of the Nigerian family who suffered undue delay due to Raphel’s shenanigans at the airport.

The Nigerian family When the Nigerian family eventually arrived, the reality show and contest for a $1m star prize kicked off with the various competitors.

First, each family had to declare what they would do if they won the star prize, and guess what the Nigerian family came up with? A slum-to-school project for Niger Delta children.

Do you think the Nigerian family won the star prize amidst the several stumbling blocks that they had to contend with?

Sorry, we won’t be giving out any further spoilers.

RMD RMD is entirely not new to the Akpos franchise-he has featured in other movies like ’30 Days in Atlanta’. In the latter, he was a villain.

In ‘Christmas in Miami’, RMD played a hilarious role. He was Akpos and Raphael’s father. As expected, RMD’s acting was apt, genuinely hilarious and mature. His role spiced up the entire movie and we dare say that it made the film a must-watch.

Ayo Makun, Osita Iheme, RMD Osita Iheme Osita Iheme, who played Raphel, is the only new face in the franchise. He was Akpos’ older brother who was always mediating between Akpos and his father whenever they were at loggerheads.

Iheme, who became popular for his iconic comic role in the 2002 movie ‘Aki na pawpaw’, which earned him the stage name “paw paw”, wasn’t as hilarious as expected. He was given a ‘mature’ role, which he executed excellently but the humour was far from it.

PROPS The producers of ‘Christmas in Miami’ should be praised for diverse cultural orientations which were intelligently presented in the movie.

Scripting a movie that would feature Chinese, Indians, Brazilians, British and Americans and as well as Nigerians, is a huge task. But, in this case, it was well executed.

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The cinematography, costumes, soundtrack and directing ensured that the reality show scenes in the movie which was watched by international audiences were as realistic as reality could be. The Intercontinental Christmas Festa (ICF) was so aptly captured that it could make you wonder if you are watching a real movie or a reality show.

I loved that the movie showcased Nigerian Jollof Rice, Fela Kuti, with the soundtracks, depicting originality.

Shortcomings The movie was so cliche! Not much effort was made to make something unique out of the regular Akpos storyline.

Depicting a reality show in a movie is no doubt challenging but this is where creativity comes in. There were many gaps; we were not told or shown what influenced the votes, nor did we see people voting. Perhaps, there was an imaginary audience for the show..

Also, there was zero suspense in the movie.

As a comedy movie centred around a reality show, the writers should have explored that aspect to create suspense in the movie.

Rating 6/10

Save for RMD’s acting prowess and the colourful representation of diverse cultures across the globe, the movie would be no different from the previous ones.

The movie was,however, more ‘foreign’ than it was Nigerian.

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