“So you see, my son, there is a very fine line between love and nausea.” – King Jaffe Joffer
I’m sure at some point I’ve been guilty of it myself, operating under this idea that if a sequel to a beloved film is made and falls well short of living up to its predecessor that somehow that taints the original. But I choose now to embrace selective memory, pretending the hollow sequel is nothing more than a bad dream I had once. Let’s, for the sake of this review, call this list the Rejects list, where dead on arrival sequels have a place to rest without further suffering. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly if you ask me, Coming 2 America should fall well within this Rejects list, hopefully to be lost to time and selective memory.
I wanted to be surprised, of course I did. Why wouldn’t I? “Holy shit this movie was great!” I would exclaim. But reality is such that half-hearted endeavors such as this are allowed to exist and sully our hopes for its potential. I was instantly reminded of something I’ve come to hold true for any sequel and it’s this – regardless of genre, comedy, drama, sci-fi, whatever, a sequel needs to earn its place. To simply create more content without reason is a cash grab, among other things. One of the best examples I can give is bringing up my favorite film, Blade Runner 2049 and its self contained story and flawless execution that absolutely justifies its existence. It pays homage to the original, it acknowledges the first but doesn’t ever live in awe of it to the point of forgetting why, as the sequel, that it’s here in the first place. It stands on its own. Coming 2 America would/could not exist in its final form without the first.
This shell of the original classic is exactly that, hollow and wholly dependent on the first. Nearly every single joke or gag is reliant on having seen the first film. It feels as if the creators are that annoying friend that doesn’t understand boundaries and is sitting next to you repeatedly nudging you with their elbow saying, “Hahaha! Remember that joke from the first?! Wasn’t that funny what they did?” Yeah, it was funny. It was funny all the way back in 1988 when it was released, long before this sorry excuse for a sequel you’ve just dumped on us. It possesses zero identity of its own.
Everything about this movie feels cheap and rushed. It’s predictable every step of the way. It’s a buffet of memorable characters from the first making appearances saying catch phrases or referencing catch phrases they once uttered in the original. That’s it. That’s the formula for Coming 2 America. Bringing up another duo of stories I look at the Creed films and recall the similar love story between its main characters meant to mirror Balboa’s relationship in the first Rocky film between him and Adrian. It’s a call back with the Creed films, it’s an acknowledgement of what came before it as a way of saying that some things are timeless, like young love.
In the first Coming to America, Prince Akeem travels to America to find his true love forgoing his arranged marriage to a complete stranger in his homeland of Zamunda. He quickly meets Lisa McDowell and becomes infatuated with her hoping that something more could become a reality. On his hilarious journey through odd American customs he slowly earns her heart and confesses not only his love but his true identity, not of a fast food worker but that of a prince of a far away land. He stumbles and falls short repeatedly as he realizes finding love naturally is anything but simple. It may be difficult but ultimately worth every moment of agony trying to reach that particular mountain top.
In the sequel, Akeem’s bastard son has a story arc meant to mirror the original love story of his father and step-mother, much like Creed did with Rocky. Only this time that story aspect is rushed and never feels natural. The son meets a servant, has a few conversations with her and boom, love and marriage. He too forgoes an arranged marriage and chooses the servant but without all of the trial and error his father endured to hold Lisa’s hand in the end. It feels forced and crammed into a plethora of references and jokes ripped directly from the original.
So much of this sequel doesn’t earn its right to exist. It never rises above a sequel that was made to be made, I guess for nostalgia’s sake, and a hopeful revival of Eddie Murphy’s career. Everything in this movie that made me laugh only did so because I’ve seen the first. Nothing about Coming 2 America is original or funny beyond what they ripped from the classic ‘88 comedy. These versions of beloved characters like Akeem and Semmi and Cleo McDowell feel very much like the movie itself, hollow and aimless. Like I said before, it’s a nearly two hour “remember this” joke without a leg of its own to stand on. Rejects list, it’s all yours.
Rated PG-13 For: crude and sexual content, language and drug content
Runtime: 110 minutes
After Credits Scene: Yes. Mid-credits.
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Shari Headley, Wesley Snipes, Arsenio Hall
Directed By: Craig Brewer
Out of 10 Nerdskulls
Story: 4/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 4
OVERALL: 4 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: No. Currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Check out the trailer below:
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