In terms of much belated sequels Coming 2 America arrives 33 years after the original and is one of the longest waits. The much loved original had Eddie Murphy as Prince Akeem travelling to Queens in New York looking for love and this sequel finds him now as a married king with three daughters but no male heir to the throne but his country’s constitution will not allow this. Like a teenage boy Akeem is never seen without a Semmi (‘Stop it!’ – Ed) which here is the improbably named royal page who fesses up to having got Akeem embroiled with a woman they picked up at a club. It’s all seen in a flashback to the night club scene from the original where they chat up prospective wives that we find Akeem, unknown to him, having fathered a child with Mary (Leslie Jones doing her usual loud mouth schtick).
Whizzing over to New York they find her and his now twenty-something son Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler) via the barbers shop that featured Murphy & Hall playing barber and customers under heavy make that was one of the highlights of the original film. Mary & Lavelle think they’ve hit the jackpot on finding that Akeem really is a Prince and happily fly back to his palace in Zamunda unaware that he is to marry the daughter of General Izzi (Wesley Snipes) and ruler of a neighbouring country. But the path of true love does not go smoothly and Lavelle finds himself falling for one of Akeem’s servants instead.
The Eighties saw Murphy become the No 1 box office star after a string of hits and under the direction of John Landis 1988’s ‘Coming to America’ was his last big hit of the decade after which the stars career began to slide. Part of the pleasure of the original was seeing both Murphy and Hall with their flair for comic characters playing multiple roles care of Oscar winning make up genius Rick Baker. Unfortunately those much loved comedy foils very much take a side line here and are sorely missed with Hall seemingly more willing to reprise the roles as opposed to Murphy who may now be at an age where he doesn’t want to spend hours under layers of latex and it’s a shame.
As endearing and sweet naturedly innocent as Akeem was which gave much of the original film its charm but here it is just one of several things that have gone awry. Much like Crocodile Dundee 2 which saw the film transfer locations from New York to Australia, Coming 2 America moves from New York back to Zamunda (a little bit Wakanda –lite for Marvel fans) or in actuality studio based sets. But for an Eddie Murphy headliner film he quickly becomes an almost supporting role to his son Lavelle and as played by Jermaine Fowler he has little of Murphy’s comic flair and Murphy himself seems quite muted throughout the film. Coming 2 America isn’t helped either by vague nods to the #TimesUp movement, some ropey CGI animals, celebrity cameos that add nothing and a mining of culture clashes with no laughs to show. Helmed by Craig Brewer this sorely misses the quirky humour of original director John Landis. Seven people are given a story or script credit including Murphy but it’s a big gamble to make a sequel and then set yourself up for a fall with dialogue knocking modern Hollywood films asking why make, ‘sequels to old movies nobody asked for’ and that, ‘if the original is any good why ruin it?’ Prophetic words for a film that will disappoint fans of the original.
Here’s the Coming 2 America trailer…….