From remaking TV classics to rebooting old movie franchises, and in this case, sequelizing (sometimes years after its predecessor) the films of yesteryear, Hollywood’s in no hurry to pull the tarp off the original ideas well anytime soon.
And as anyone who has sat through a “Dumb and Dumber To”, “Super Troopers 2”, “Sin City : A Dame to Kill For”, “Independence Day : Resurgence”, “Basic Instinct 2”, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal” and that god-awful “Murphy Brown” reboot on the telly a couple of years back will attest, the “Mad Max Fury Road”’s and “Blade Runner 2049”’s are few and far between.
The scales don’t exactly start tilting more favourably with Amazon’s “Coming to America” sequel but at least they don’t send the springs on the Escali Primo’s flying off either.
30 years since the last VHS copy of the film was sold, Eddie Murphy resurrects one of his most popular characters (his other most popular character is said to be making a return shortly, too) – naïve Zamundan prince Prince Akeem, in a tardy but largely titillating follow-up to John Landis’s “Coming to America” (1988).
The unimaginatively titled “Coming 2 America” sees Akeem, now older, chubbier and, noticeably less wise (money turns the morals to mush!), headed back to Queens to claim a bastard son (Jermaine Fowler). With son in tow, Akeem returns to Zamunda where it’s expected Lavelle will marry Bopoto (Teyana Taylor), the daughter of palace enemy General Izzi (a high-spirited, hilarious Wesley Snipes). But just as Akeem realized a few decades prior, marrying someone for diplomacy ultimately don’t fly with the offspring.
“Coming 2 America” relies heavily on references to the original hit to fill the most of its minutes- and for fans, that’s totally fine! From seeing those hilarious ‘Barber’ characters (largely Murphy and Arsenio Hall in one old-age make-up) again, to clever call-backs like McDowell’s latest rip-off product and Paramount’s logo transitioning into a grotto of mountains ahead of the film, it’s a bonafide ‘fan film’ – for lack of a better word.
The tone of the Craig (“My Name is Dolemite”) Brewer-directed film is slightly more PC and kid-friendly than the original – which earned an R rating in the states back in the day – and some of Murphy’s hardcore fans might take issue with the cleaner take but even they’ll agree Murphy is the most enthusiastic and vivacious he’s been in years here. There’s a glimmer in his eye again, a sizzle in his sneakers, and a giant smile on his face for most of the duration of this thing. The energy and pop of the whole ensemble, in fact, is infectious – – so much so you’ll likely even forgive the dodgy CGI (did they not have a helium balloon they could’ve drawn a face on to stand in for the lion?), the absence of Soul-Glo, and the lack of a ‘F*ck you too!’ here.