I hoped Coming 2 America would leave me sipping champagne to celebrate the sequel. Instead I was drinking the the bottle of brown sour mash my roommate left when he moved out. This movie is an absolute mess from beginning to end. The good news is that it’s forgettable. As I was eating pizza on my couch a few hours later I was thinking ‘what did I do this afternoon?’ After a couple minutes, I remembered I watched Coming 2 America. Yes, it’s that forgettable.
The Good Old Days
This is the sequel to 1988’s iconic and quotable Coming to America. And Eddie Murphy knew he’d need to bring back as much of the old gang as possible for this film to have any life. Ed plays Prince then King Akeem (among other characters) and Arsenio Hall is back as the obsequiously self-absorbed manservant Semmi (among other characters). There are flashbacks to the original. The barbershop is unchanged, a stubborn holdout to the gentrification of Queens. Akeem’s father-in-law, Mr. McDowell (John Amos) opened a McDowell’s in Zamunda and is still fending off cease and desist letters from McDonalds. Sexual Chocolate and the pervy reverend are still around.
But these nuggets of nostalgia remind us of how great the first movie was and contrast with how average this one is.
To Heir Is Human
The plot of this movie is that Akeem has three daughters, and without a male heir he’ll be assassinated after the King (James Earl Jones) dies and Zamunda invaded. Aside from old grudges and the tradition of royals marrying royals, none of the reasons for this are well explained.
But it turns out there is a male heir, back in Queens. Semmi set Prince Akeem up to be date raped and that produced a kid they kept hidden from him until the need for a male heir became dire. This sets up a typical fish out of water storyline when Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler) and his mom, Mary (Leslie Jones), are plucked from Queens and plopped down in the Royal Court of Zamunda.
There is nothing new here. Lavelle’s princely training is predictable. Mary’s tension with Queen Lisa is predictable then out of nowhere they’re BFFs. The resentment of the princesses at their new uncouth brother is predictable, but they simply get over it. Everything is just glossed over. It didn’t make sense and, even worse, wasn’t even funny.
Good & Bad
One of the great things of the original was the lack of a villain. While all the characters were looking out for themselves, they weren’t malicious. They simply were trying to do right by their families.
In this one there’s a pseudo villain, General Izzi (Wesley Snipes). The character never makes sense, he wants Zamunda’s wealth and is determined to get it through either war or marriage. He’s more a caricature of a warlord and it just doesn’t work even as it moves to service whatever is left of the plot.
Location Location Location
This movie really should have been named Return To Zamunda. Most of the movie is at the palace. In the first film, Queens and NYC overall were a character in the movie. Now they’re just a backdrop used for story continuity. And Zamunda isn’t fleshed out all that well. I didn’t know where I was, I just knew I was ready to leave.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
I’m almost done with the bottle of mash liquor.. but that’s not what’s making me nauseous. I blame that on the movie. Cheers!