Christmas in Miami has made quite a splash since dropping in cinemas back during the dying embers of 2021. This Christmas Eve release has gone north of the N100 million mark in three weeks at the Nigerian box office, an impressive feat, even without factoring in the effects of the pandemic.
Robert Peters directs Christmas in Miami, the latest instalment in the Ayo ‘AY’ Makun led Akpos movie series. Alongside AY, this movie also features Richard Mofe-Damijo, Osita Iheme, Tanya Price, Desiree Farnum, and John Amos.
In fairness, the Akpos film series hasn’t quite lit up in any real way. There’s the fact that it centres on a character and the films don’t bare any connection to each other, which is a sign of simply using an actor to regurgitate stereotypical performances. There’s also the staleness of it all; the inaugural that was 30 Days in Atlanta had something of an element of surprise, but while even that had its limits, the rest have really felt like much of a muchness ever since, and a forgettable one at that.
And Christmas in Miami doesn’t really offer that much in terms of a sense of difference from the others. Just a casting reshuffle, and you go again. A lot of this movie is empty, and of little consequence. To an extent, though, that’s what this movie is aiming for. The deliberate attempt at being on about nothing is obvious, and the purposeful shallowness is undeniable.
But that contrived lack of depth could be seen as a cover for how vanilla this movie gets. And ‘vanilla’ is probably the most apt description for this movie. Nothing stirs up anything. It’s neither funny nor (that) cringe, and it really goes through the motions, without really doing it. There’s no climax, there are barely acts, instead, it is simply stuff happening, without care for consequence or relevance.
Yet what makes Christmas in Miami all the more galling is the cheapness of it all. The way this movie doesn’t just opt to use every trending pop culture shtick it could find, but rather overtly latches onto it. It follows a shtick of the film series, which relies on current trendiness to carry much of its dialogue. A lot of it make little sense, have little relevance, and simply try to cover some bad and lazy writing. From the stereotypical, to the somewhat prejudiced; from the misinformed to the wrongly trivialised; Christmas in Miami simply lumps those faux acts all together.
Amidst all this, AY plays his typical version of Akpos once more, one that has very much become a parody of himself – you could call it a parody of a parody. Much of the film goes through him, but that also reflects and highlights the flaws, in terms of story, acting, and characterisation. We neither see any kind of acting that can make for the flaws of the film, nor vice-versa.
Christmas in Miami is something of a low hanging fruit, in terms of a movie. It offers nothing new, or different, informs little, and stirs even less; and simply picks the shallow stuff it sees. In fairness, it did seem like the cast were having a good time with all of it, and that’s not exactly bad. But if this movie was fun to make, it doesn’t exactly translate that enjoyment to its audience.