Coming 2 America, Amazon’s sequel to Eddie Murphy’s 1988 smash, is unfunny, poorly acted, and a woke lecture about how wrong we were to enjoy the sexist and insensitive original.
Imagine if in 1988, Hollywood released sequels to Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, or My Sister Eileen, or We’re No Angels. Imagine Hollywood, in 1988, pumping out sequels to 33-year-old comedies released in 1955. Well, that’s exactly what happened with Coming to America. The original is 33-years-old, Eddie Murphy turns 60 this year, Arsenio Hall just turned 65, and it’s a humiliating disaster for all involved.
Let’s face it, the original, like everything Murphy touched in the 80s, might have been a smash-hit, but it’s nothing terribly special. It’s charming and funny and has its inspired moments, but other than presenting a flourishing and fictional African country thirty years before Black Panther’s Wakanda, there’s nothing terribly memorable that had us begging for a sequel. How many romantic comedies produce successful sequels?
The story’s over. Happily ever after, and all that…
What was best about the first Coming to America was its R-rating and the edgy moments that came with that, primarily in the form of the different characters Arsenio and Murphy portrayed under all of The Great Rick Baker’s latex.
What’s so pathetic about Coming 2 America is how it apologizes for and shames the original for daring to be offensive. Watching Murphy’s Prince/King Joffer basically lecture the old guys in the barbershop (played by Arsenio and Murphy) about how it’s wrong to touch women without their permission, is downright dispiriting.
Later on, another character will attack Arsenio’s hilarious (and now neutered) Reverend Brown as “sexist.”
Unfortunately, that’s the least of it. Coming 2 America‘s central plot is obnoxiously political, all about defeating the dreaded patriarchy of Zamunda. Worse still, it’s full of contrived and unearned “girl power” moments so condescending and ham-handed you want to slap someone.
Remember how the sexy female bathers serviced Murphy’s prince in the original? Well, now we’re treated to a scene of a male bather servicing — hold on to your lunch — Leslie Jones. Because, you know, the patriarchy.
Some 99 pound girl kicks Wesley Snipes’ ass. Wesley freakin’ Snipes! And it’s not played for comedy or irony. It’s just another stupid “girl power” moment. I must point out, though, that Snipes is the only one who comes close to being consistently funny.
Bottom line: Coming 2 America is horribly embarrassed by Coming to America, so we’re forced to suffer through what is basically a rerun of the original as written by Woketards, which seems impossible with both of the original writers returning for the sequel.
I think on two occasions I laughed because Eddie made a funny face. That was it. During the rest of the 110 minutes, I was dying inside, embarrassed for everyone involved. The movie is painfully unfunny, the story is a mess, and the callbacks to the original are desperate and silly. If I had not intended to review it, it would have been shut off after 20 minutes.
The movie’s biggest problem is that you never believe a second of it. As out there as the original was, thanks to the talent involved, including director John Landis, you bought into that world. There was something real about those characters and their relationships. They sold it. The sequel is artificial, especially Leslie Jones, who’s unfiltered-hood-mama character is absurdly one-dimensional and exhausting.
Even before all that fame hit him at age 20 with 48 Hours (which is still his best movie), Murphy embraced Elvis Presley as both an idol and cautionary tale. Murphy wanted to be as big of a superstar as Elvis, as dangerous, cool, and iconic. What he didn’t want was to end up a bloated has-been hurrying through his greatest hits for the money.
Well, Murphy was once every bit as dangerous, cool, and iconic as Elvis. No question. See Eddie Murphy: Delirious (1983) or Eddie Murphy: Raw (1987). But now, at least with Coming 2 America, he’s become the bloated has-been hurrying through his greatest hits for the money — which is a shame after his previous film, the terrific Dolemite Is My Name. (Dolemite and Coming 2 America were both directed by Craig Brewer.)
Coming 2 America is no Jailhouse Rock or King Creole. It’s not even Frankie and Johnny. It’s Clambake and Spinout and Harum Scarum.
Well, that’s not fair. At least in Clambake and Spinout and Harum Scarum, Elvis was looking to entertain. Coming 2 America is more interested in shaming us for daring to enjoy Coming to America.