Watching Coming 2 America was like eating a stale bologna sandwich with barely a taste of a condiment. Why did I continue to watch? So you don’t have to. I thought there wasn’t another bland comedian out there like Adam Sandler that could deliver such pablum until this over-inflated Eddie Murphy vehicle came to the small screen to smell it up.
All the time I’m wondering, who on earth was asking for a sequel to the over-decades-old comedy Coming to America? The original movie might have made box office gold, but it was mildly entertaining compared to the Murphy trilogy that was so memorably entertaining and funny – 48 Hours, Trading Places and Beverly Hills Cop. The star has not risen above the three since.
What’s the problem with C2A? Old and bad jokes, predictable plot line and tired comedians that lead to boredom. I kept thinking, “will it get any better with so much talent and the excessive production values? Is there anything good here?” I counted four chuckles spread throughout the hour and fifty long minutes. There are the standouts. Watching Wesley Snipes prance around as General Izzi is fun. The three youngsters who portray Eddie Murphy’s daughters are perfectly charming, and once again Leslie Jones and Tracy Morgan practically steal the movie with their outrageousness. There are also impressive, Broadway-like dance numbers that looked as if they were shoe-horned into the film.
But, there is such a wasteland among the few highlights. Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall work too hard to force laughs. They are just not funny in this retread. They either look like they are holding back or at times so over the top they telegraph the point across. James Earl Jones, John Amos along with the singing talent and other special appearances just feel like throwaways. The story appears to be slapped together with very little thought behind it. Just one bad sketch after another.
The threadbare storyline has Eddie Murphy as Prince Akeem decades later settled well into his royal life. All seems wonderful in the land of Zamunda. Hakeem has his beautiful wife, three wonderful daughters and a kingdom to soon inherit. But, all is not right. He is reminded by both his dying father and his militaristic rival, General Izzi (Wesley Snipes), that he has no male heir to pass on the crown, which is dictated by Zamunda law.
Izzi is still ticked off that his sister was jilted by Akeem and now insists that Akeem’s oldest daughter marry his son to keep the peace. Akeem’s daughter turns down the boy flat causing even more tension. It is suggested that Akeem could be assassinated once he inherits the crown with no son to follow.
But wait! Akeem’s (dis)trustful aide Semmi, played by Arsenio Hall, informs him that he did in fact have a bastard son from a wild one-night stand back in Queens that he arranged. They both head back to retrieve the son and soon-to-be prince. Of course, all this assumption on Akeem’s part that this will be an easy mission becomes far more troublesome – having to inform his wife, his daughter, who feels privileged enough to inherit the crown, and a young man from the streets being suspicious and unaccustomed to royal behavior.
Does this sound familiar? Coming to America, My Fair Lady, Trading Places – all better movies than this tired retread. Before Akeem’s son, Lavelle Johnson, sets foot into the kingdom of Zamunda, we know exactly what’s going to happen. There are very few surprises here except for the celebrities we happen to see briefly grace the screen: John Legend, Rick Ross, Salt-N-Pepa (not even able to deliver a full song) to name just a few.
The real sad part to all of this is that the man that gave us Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan, writer/director Craig Brewer, has been reduced to the court jester to make all this stale material funny as best he can. He’s obviously overwhelmed with the Eddie Murphy stardom touch with the film looking no different than Murphy’s other underwhelming projects: The Nutty Professor and Norbit where Murphy could play multiple characters for strained laughs while hiding behind so much makeup. To be fair, Brewer had a much better handle on the star when he did Dolemite Is My Name with far better results.
Altogether, Coming 2 America is a dreadful affair draped with some saccharin sweet moments that may make you gag absent of the smallest laughing jag. If you just have to see Murphy in character makeup you can turn to his other movies and avoid some of the cringe-worthy moments. For that matter, if you can’t get enough Tracy Morgan or Leslie Jones then by all means fast forward to their segments and skip the rest.
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Directed by: Craig Brewer
Release Date: March 5, 2021
Run Time: 110 Minutes
Distributor: Amazon Studios