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Review: The heat is one-sided in the screwball comedy 'Love Jacked'

Review: The heat is one-sided in the screwball comedy 'Love Jacked'
Angela Gibbs, from left, Keith David, Amber Stevens West and Shamier Anderson in the movie "Love Jacked." (Inner City Releasing)

The charismatic Shamier Anderson does the heavy lifting in Alfons Adetuyi’s screwball comedy “Love Jacked,” also starring Amber Stevens West. Maya (West) and Malcolm (Anderson) meet while moping over coffee in a seaside SoCal diner. Malcolm offers a shoulder for Maya to cry on, and she unspools her lovelorn tale of finding herself as an artist, as well as landing a wealthy fiancé, Mtumbie (Demetrius Grosse), in South Africa.

When she discovers Mtumbie cheating, she can’t bring herself to face the “I told you sos” of her father, Ed (Keith David), and keeps up the wedding ruse. It’s the perfect opportunity for Malcolm, who’s running from his pool-hustling travel partner (Lyriq Bent). Just add a few vibrantly printed robes and his best “Coming to America” impression, and Malcolm becomes Mtumbie.

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The best-laid plans are always complicated by emotion in these kinds of rom-coms, and Adetuyi and co-writer Linda Eskeland craft a script built on a lie that gets crazier and crazier (the plan is for Mtumbie to “drown” on their honeymoon), and the love-hate relationship between Maya and Malcolm.

Typically, in the screwball formula, the central couple are thrown together by happenstance and fall for each other during the “will they or won’t they” roller-coaster. Unfortunately, in “Love Jacked,” Anderson brings the heat, while West is barely present, unable to keep the necessary chemistry crackling.

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‘Love Jacked’

Rated: PG-13, for some suggestive material

Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Playing: Starts Oct. 26, Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena

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