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Coming 2 America (2021)

King-to-be, Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy), has just found out that he has a long-lost son. With this information, and no other male heirs, Akeem must travel to America, rekindle relationships with former encounters, and build a relationship with his son, Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler), so that a legitimate heir to the throne of Zamunda is available down the line. Coming 2 America is Prince Akeem’s newest venture to the western world, and just like last time, it will be anything but typical.

In 1988 Coming to America took the world by storm and quickly became what many might call an instant classic. Here we are, 2021, in a world where original material is becoming harder and harder to find, and Coming 2 America (notice the highly original name) is trying to replicate what was done more than thirty years ago. It’s no surprise that with a name like Coming 2 America that much of what occurs throughout the film is derivative of its predecessor, and this film struggles to ever remove itself from the shadow of the 1988 hit. Murphy has been rather quiet over the past five years, and this really is his first attempt to revitalize his comedy career since 2016. Much like the film as a whole, however, the time between the past and the present is not kind to Murphy, and what he’s been known to bring to the table seems to dwindle with the allure of the film.

Sure, comedy has changed over the past thirty-plus years, but the reality is that Coming 2 America is likely trying to attract an audience that loved the original, meaning that the same style of comedy is imperative to its success. While the series of writers dabble in the in-your-face, outright style of comedy, there has been a transition to something more subtle in this installment, and it ultimately drowns out the rest of the comedy. The one thing that should have remained the same is the one thing that the filmmakers decided to switch up, and it’s not good for the product.

In all honesty, Coming 2 America is one of the most frustrating films of 2021. It’s unnecessary, derivative, and downright bland, but the worst part of the entire film is Leslie Jones (Mary Junson). Her voice, her aggressive comedy, and her inability to act simply add to the disappointment of Coming 2 America. I can think of about a dozen other individuals who would have performed better, added some level of comedy, or at least wouldn’t have helped to suffocate the film. Jones was the wrong choice, maybe even the worst choice–and I can’t wrap my head around this casting decision (other than the fact that it appears that casting directors Leah Daniels Butler and George Pierre wanted to employ as many Saturday Night Live acts as possible).

Just about the only thing that provides any sort of entertainment throughout the course of Coming 2 America is the soundtrack (and not even all of it). It takes time for the music to develop and entertain, but the ones that do make you want to get up and dance. Coming 2 America has been nominated for an Academy Award–Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling. While it deserves the nomination, I honestly don’t see it competing with some of the other wonderful achievements in the same realm from 2021. There are few bright spots in an otherwise dismal film. Coming 2 America is redundant, predictable, and boring. Ultimately, Coming 2 America is a failed attempt to resuscitate a franchise that should have stayed in the 80’s.

Directed by Craig Brewer.

Written by Eddie Murphy, Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield, Justin Kanew, & Kenya Barris.

Starring Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, KiKi Layne, Shari Headley, Wesley Snipes, James Earl Jones, John Amos, Teyana Taylor, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Paul Bates, Nomzamo Mbatha, Bella Murphy, Morgan Freeman, etc.




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