sat 17/04/2021

Coming 2 America review - Eddie Murphy returns as African Prince Akeem | reviews, news & interviews

Coming 2 America review - Eddie Murphy returns as African Prince Akeem

Coming 2 America review - Eddie Murphy returns as African Prince Akeem

Disappointing sequel has its moments

Arsenio Hall (left) and Eddie Murphy have great chemistry on screen

Eddie Murphy – one of the biggest stars of the 1980s – has taken his time in making a sequel to the enormously successful Coming to America, which was released in 1988.

Eddie Murphy – one of the biggest stars of the 1980s – has taken his time in making a sequel to the enormously successful Coming to America, which was released in 1988. In that film, directed by John Landis, Murphy played another of his cheeky, quick-talking and knowing comedy roles; as Akeem, a prince from the fictional African nation of Zamunda.

It was an amusing fish-out-of-water, culture-clash comedy, as Akeem escaped an arranged marriage and, with his best friend Semmi (Arsenio Hall), fled to Queens, where he fell in love with Lisa (Shari Headley), who loved him for himself and not his money or status.

In Coming 2 America Akeem is now a father to three daughters who, despite them being smart, able and (literally) kick-ass, cannot inherit the throne. Akeem discovers that he has a son, an heir, who in this back story was conceived in an alcoholic blur 30 years ago in an accidental one-night stand with Mary before he met Lisa.

The prince goes to Queens to find him and before you can say DNA test brings Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler), back to Zamunda, where he and Mary (Leslie Jones, picture with Fowler below) are now the ones causing the culture clash – setting up a neat reversal of the original movie – and manage to upset Lisa and the girls, not least Princess Meeka (KiKi Layne), who as the oldest should inherit the throne.

The world has moved on since 1988 – Barack Obama, the African diaspora and Wakanda to name but a few changes in the cultural landscape – and the male gaze of the original movie is less potent here (albeit there are still an awful lot of scantily clad dancers and palace staff). Respect for women and female empowerment provide the sequel's more serious undertow as the comedy (and more screen time) is left to the older, male stars.

It's an amusing enough story but, boy, director Craig Brewer and writers Barry W Blaustein and David Sheffield (who wrote the original), joined by Kenya Barris of Blackish fame, take their time telling it. We 're almost a half-hour in before Akeem gets back to New York and the pace picks up, and there are several scenes that appear to be included merely to get the old gang back together (including James Earl Jones as Akeem's dying father and John Amos as Lisa's dad).

Murphy and Hall still have great chemistry on screen and again play multiple roles, including the ancient Queens barbers, while Wesley Snipes gives equal value as General Izzi, the mad dictator of neighbouring Nexdoria (the jokes are often that obvious) who is desperate to invade the peace-loving Zamunda. Leslie Jones, meanwhile, steals every scene she's in.

The story, in which loves conquers all, is entirely predictable.

There are occasional great gags, though, and Murphy (who also produced) throws a few stink bombs at Hollywood which, one character says, is now all "superhero shit, remakes and sequels nobody asked for”. Neat.

It's surely not the sequel Coming to America's fans may have wanted, but it has its moments.

The male gaze of the original movie is less potent here

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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