Combustible Celluloid
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With: Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, KiKi Layne, Shari Headley, Wesley Snipes, Teyana Taylor, James Earl Jones, Bella Murphy, Akiley Love, Paul Bates, John Amos, Louie Anderson, Rotimi, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Nomzamo Mbatha, Clint Smith, Luenell, Rick Ross, Garcelle Beauvais, Trevor Noah, Colin Jost
Written by: Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield, Kenya Barris, based on a story by Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield, Justin Kanew
Directed by: Craig Brewer
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content, language and drug content
Running Time: 108
Date: 03/05/2021

Coming 2 America (2021)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Crown Wince

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Arriving 33 years after the 1988 smash hit Coming to America, this sequel feels like it went stale during its long journey. It re-introduces us to prince Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy), who is still living happily ever after with his beloved Lisa (Shari Headley) and their three daughters. (Thank goodness the producers weren't gauche enough to replace Headley with someone younger and prettier.) Akeem ascends to king of Zamunda after the death of his father (James Earl Jones), and instantly faces trouble because, according to the traditions and laws of the land, he must have a male heir.

He learns that, during his 1988 trip to America, he was drugged and seduced by Mary Junson (Leslie Jones) and does indeed have a son, Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler). So Akeem and his faithful manservant Semmi (Arsenio Hall) go to America once again to retrieve Mary and Lavelle. Back in Zamunda, the newcomers have fun with their newfound fortune for a little while, and then Lavelle is told he must marry Bopoto (Teyana Taylor), daughter of General Izzi (Wesley Snipes), to secure peace between the two nations. But, as in the first movie, Lavelle falls in love with hairdresser Mirembe (Nomzamo Mbatha), who has more personality than the obedient Bopoto.

Then, Akeem must find a way to get with the times and allow women to ascend to power, given that his eldest daughter, Princess Meeka (KiKi Layne), is ready and willing to become queen. This plot essentially locks Murphy into an inflexible role, making it next to impossible for him to be funny, while Fowler becomes the movie's uninteresting "main" character. Other attempts to be funny, such as a revisit to the famous barbershop, feel forced.

What's really missing is the personal touch that director John Landis brought to the original; his odd rhythms and staging wrought R-rated laughs where there might not have been any. Current director Craig Brewer — whose other Eddie Murphy movie Dolemite Is My Name is excellent — seems to be working as if on too much cold medication, turning in a sluggish, bland PG-13 film with no personality. Keep watch for lots of guest stars and some product placement for Pepsi and McDonalds.

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