Format: Amazon Streaming
Director: Craig Brewer
I saw Coming To America opening weekend in a packed theater. For whatever reason, my mom thought that Eddie Murphy was a stitch, and we went as a family. Over the years, I've probably watched Coming to America the most of any non-Christmas comedy, sometimes in whole, but certainly if you add up the chunks of time I've spent watching parts on cable. In general, I feel like I know the movie pretty well.
Jamie forewarned me that reviews for the sequel, realeased this weekend to Amazon, were lukewarm to unfavorable. I haven't seen them. We were going to at least try the movie.
Admittedly, I was drinking rum and am predisposed to enjoying Leslie Jones, but... I liked Coming 2 America (2021). Look, Eddie Murphy has also aged 30 years - and in that, Eddie Murphy is a smart man who has absorbed 30 years of observation while he's been living, working, raising kids. In no way am I shocked that the movie is a reflection on the events and lessons of the first film, any more than any of these "suddenly, 30 years later" sequels have revisited and returned to the source to tell a story of a new generation.
He and Lisa (a startlingly she's-still-got-it Shari Headley returns and is funny!) have birthed three lovely daughters, but no male heir. That is, until Akeem learns he has a son from one of his pre-Lisa evenings in Queens. And there is pressure to have a male heir - the brother of the young woman Akeem left at the alter barking like a poodle is looking to make trouble with Zumunda. And, that brother is played by Wesley Snipes in fine comedy form.
Now is as good a time as any to say, I laughed every time they mentioned the name of Zumunda's neighboring country, so this is definitely YMMV territory.
Familiar faces appear, whom you've seen in the trailer - and of course that includes some of the characters played by Murphy and Hall. But there's also some others I didn't expect, and a handful of cameos that all work exceedingly well. We also get the aforementioned Leslie Jones and Tracy Morgan as Jones' brother.
I definitely recognized Jermaine Fowler who plays Akeem's son - because he's got a ton of credits racked up over the last few years, so even if I wasn't watching Superior Donuts, I'd seen his face on TV. But, yeah, he fit in well with the tone, he's funny but wasn't off doing something that didn't fit with the rest of the film.
If I have a criticism of the movie - there are so many characters, and so much happening - this feels like it should have been an 8 episode TV show. If the problem is that you want to spend more time with the characters - that's not really a problem, I did and I do. But I also felt like the royal daughters got shortchanged storyline-wise, and we could have seen more of Snipes' family, who seems like a trip (you will recognize the young woman who plays Snipes' daughter as Teyana Taylor (or be me, and keep thinking "I know her from somewhere". and the answer is "the popular culture of the youths").
It seems like a lot got left on the cutting room floor, and maybe they'll re-assmeble it, or decide to come back for another go.
And, yes, you've probably read the costumes are amazing - and, people, they are. Just beautiful, brilliant stuff by Ruth E. Carter (credit where it's due!).
I'm not like to go back and check what other folks didn't like about this movie. Comedy is personal, and maybe it won't hold up on a second try when I'm more sober. While some of the edge of the original is missing, and there are a loooot of call backs to the first movie, a lot of those callbacks land remarkably well. But if you didn't find it funny - well, I guess that's a thing that happened. I don't find a lot of things other people enjoy to be all that funny.