COMING 2 AMERICA (AMAZON PRIME) (2021)
SYNOPSIS: Set in the lush and royal country of Zamunda, newly-crowned King Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and his trusted confidante Semmi(Arsenio Hall) embark on an all-new hilarious adventure that has them traversing the globe from their great African nation to the borough of Queens, New York – where it all began.
More than 30 years after its original, the sequel to Coming to America is finally here. It’s definitely a long wait for both fans of the original and Eddie Murphy. For the most part, the script should be edgier and funnier instead it’s far too safe in delivering a sequel that contains shades of the first. Nothing daring or refreshing after three long decades.
After the death of his father, Prince Akeem Joffer now King (Murphy) has to look for his long last son, Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler), or in their words, his so-called bastard son he sired years back with a woman named Mary (Leslie Jones) in Queens. Zamunda needs an heir desperately and Akeem and his loyal companion, Semmi (Arsenio Hall) has to travel back to New York once again to bring back Lavelle or faces a violent takeover led by an evil dictator, Izzi (Wesley Snipes). The plan is to let Lavelle marries Bopoto, the daughter of Izzi in an arranged marriage to seal the relationship of their two Kingdom.
However, in order to become a Prince, Lavelle must first pass a series of tests to see if he is worth the title although strangely none involved a scientific DNA test or whatsoever. But fate has plans of its own and Lavelle happens to fall in love with the royal groomer, Mirembe (Nomzamo Mbatha). With the plan of having Lavelle marrying Bopoto hanging by the thread, will Akeem managed to save his Kingdom in the end?
It’s certainly laudable that the script and direction deals with current hot-button issues such as female empowerment and such though you can’t help but feel a sense of laziness to all the narrative. Coming 2 America relies a lot on nostalgia. By a lot means there are lots and lots of it that referenced back to the 1988 original. Remember the bunch of foul-mouthed barbers and their Jewish customer? Well, they are back for more wise-ass crack. Reverend Brown and Randy Watson, the fictional soul singer is back as well for old time sake.
Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall returns to recapture that old magic called movie makeup. And boy, it’s a winner yet again. Whatever Murphy and Hall is not in a particular scene, the movie turned into a completely different one. One that is filled with unfunny SNL sketches despite the inclusion of Tracy Morgan, Leslie Jones and the return of John Amos and Shari Headley. By the way, Hall is criminally underused while Murphy seems tired and less enthusiastic after years of absence from the screen. Snipes on the other hand unexpectedly provides a cheesy comical performance as General Izzi.
Surprisingly, the humour here is tamer and gags are largely reduced to minor crude sexual innuendos and watching a lion fart. There are a couple of musical numbers that boast strong production design. It’s a sequel that keeps on reminding us that the original is way better. There’s even a line in the movie that takes a jab at Hollywood sequels. All in all, Coming 2 America is like a gathering of old friends in an once-familiar place. They reminisced about the past, delves on some funny old stories while introducing their offspring. For nostalgia sake, you probably enjoyed this more than you should. Paramount has been long gestating on another of Murphy’s famous franchise, Beverly Hills Cop, let’s pray that they completely forget about it.
Review by Linus Tee