Coming 2 America
Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”
This movie is aware that it doesn't need to exist. It tries hard to work up some laughs, gradually ramping up the energy level as if it can will itself to be entertaining, but there's not much comedic inspiration to be found in a tale that doesn't need to be told. The original film's comedic premise was to demonstrate how screwed up and cynical New York had become in the 1980s by viewing it through an innocent man's eyes. This sequel is about nothing more than its own plot, which barely holds water anyway. I did laugh at a few jokes, but I also counted missed opportunities for more. (I expected an early scene where the naive Akeem tries in vain to reach his son by email. "Why does he not believe that an African prince wants to give him an inheritance?")
Things that I liked about the movie: The amazing costumes by Ruth E. Carter, the same designer who won an Oscar for costuming Black Panther. The scene-stealing Wesley Snipes, who has been so good and so at ease in comedies lately that I'm beginning to wish that he had stuck to the comedies of his early career instead of taking a long detour through crappy forgettable thrillers. The many cameos and musical performances by Black superstars, who are all game for some jokes. The references to some of James Earl Jones's other roles, which provided two of the laughs for which I'm grateful.
Matthew Preston: “It was ok.”
It felt like the cast genuinely enjoyed making this film, which comes through in boosting their performances. A few things I noticed:
- Eddie Murphy seems much more calm these days. It's not a bad thing, but it's noticeable that he might be run down or maybe more at ease with his celebrity status.
- Arsenio Hall doesn't age apparently. He looks almost the same!
- Wesley Snipes absolutely nails his role. Brilliant comedic acting/timing.
- I feel like the advancements Zamunda makes in gender equality would probably have been figured out long before 2021. But, It's a comedy and I'm not going down the canonical rabbit hole for something like Coming to America.
- Where's Eriq La Salle? I only spotted one Soul Glo reference in a poster in the background of the barber shop. It would have been neat to see him again in this role. They managed to get a LOT of obscure background characters for the sequel, so his absence was noticeable.
- I would have preferred an R rated version. They could have gotten away with a lot more hilarious jokes and call-backs to the original if they weren't under an MPAA umbrella. And come to think of it, this is a direct to streaming release. Does anyone really care that much about ratings for streaming? It does help as a parental guide, but some of the things I've seen Netflix and HBO get away with make even a hard R rated comedy look tame.
Scott Hardie: La Salle had to decline due to TV directing commitments. This was intended to be a theatrical release, hence the softer rating, but I agree that an R-rated version would have had more teeth and I would have preferred it that way too. (I'd have preferred to see it in a theater, for that matter. The jokes might have landed better with a loud, raucous audience.) − May 7, 2021 more by Scott