*Do we care?
Set in the lush and royal country of Zamunda, newly-crowned King Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and his trusted confidante Semmi (Arsenio Hall) embark on an all-new hilarious adventure that has them traversing the globe from their great African nation to the borough of Queens, New York – where it all began.
“Prepare the royal jet. We are going back to America!”
We have done this dance before Juicers, a classic movie that you never thought would need a sequel “finally” gets one. This time we got the updated version of the John Landis Classic Coming to America, bringing back all our favorites 33 years later. We get Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, Shari Headley, John Amos, and of course the legend himself Eddie Murphy all reprising their roles. We also get a wealth of new characters such as Kiki Layne, Wesley Snipes, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, Teyana Taylor and many more. I think though all those names and seeing them interact might be the best part of the movie, because as we will discuss I had some major issues with some of the movies themes.
The humor from the original movie really came from the fish out of water idea with Eddies Prince Akeem, and Arsenio’s Semmi trying to find their way through New York as visitors from Africa. That is completely altered in this story as they are only in America for about 15 minutes fo the whole story. The rest of the story takes place back in Zumunda where Prince Akeem, his Queen Lisa, and their three daughters rule and eat McDowells (Yes there are still jokes about how similar to McDonalds it is). When we find out that Akeem had a bastard son while he was drugged back in New York, he has to go to New York to get him because he “needs” a male heir. This of course causes strife with his daughters and his wife as they believe times should be changing. Oh yeah and all of this while Wesley Snipes General Izzi from Nextdoria (yes that is what it is called) is threatening a coup on Zumunda.
There is a lot of plot going on and I think the main problem is that there is too much plot they tended to forget this movie was supposed to be a comedy. The jokes are few and far between, and when they do come it is mostly cringeworthy or just a retread joke from the original. The only part I thought worked from the first one was the barbershop gag where Eddie plays all the different guys int he barbershop. Other than that it felt like they should have just looked at the camera and smiled to say like “see this was funny 30 years ago.” That type of humor just does not work anymore.
What did work was the family drama and the development of the relationship between Lavelle and his sisters. Royal Family dynamics can never be easy (just watch The Crown) but learning you have a bastard brother who might become king is a very interesting subplot. And some of the best scenes were watching the sisters help Lavelle try and learn to become a prince. And overall I do think Drama is important for a Comedy to be successful but this leaned too much to the drama side and left the comedy aside.
Stock Neutral – Eddie Murphy
Eddie is one of the most legendary actors ever and one of the most successful. It seemed he was finally back to his 80’s self with Director Craig Brewer in Dolemite, but then we found out he was back to making Coming 2 America and Beverly Hills Cop 4. So I do not know what he is trying to go for but I wish he would lean more to the side of Dolemite than the sequel stuff. It is fun to see him as Akeem but again the character has to fall backwards in order to move forwards while you as an audience are like dude the answer is right in front of you. He of course though still kills it as the barbershop characters.
Stock Neutral – Arsenio Hall
He does not act much anymore and he was honestly not even in this movie that much, but it was still nice to see him. He has not aged a day and still has that big ole grin. I wish he did more because he is funny, I just think he is very content with his current life.
Stock Up – Kiki Layne
She continues to rise after first seeing her dominate the screen in If Beale Street Could Talk (still so underrated). There is just a presence on screen that is hard to describe and hard to replicate. I think she really has the makings of a superstar.
*A couple other tidbits
- Tracy Morgan and Leslie Jones have their Schtick but it is just not for me. I really just do not laugh when they are on screen.
- John Amos scene was actually really touching and made me wonder why we have not seen more of him over the years (shoutout Uncle Burton in Psych)
- They really sidelined Shari Headley’s Lisa in this one which seemed odd considering this had a very feminist message to it.
- Morgan Freeman just showing up everywhere these days huh?
- The conversation about movie sequels was so pointed and honestly had me rolling my eyes
I really wanted this to be good, because we need more comedies in the movie universe these days. Like I said though the emphasis on the family drama over new comedic material really hurt the overall movie. You can check this out on Amazon Prime right now just do not expect this to be at the level of the original classic.
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