Coming 2 America (film on Amazon Prime); Cast: Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, KiKi Layne, Shari Headley, Teyana Taylor, Wesley Snipes, James Earl Jones; Direction: Craig Brewer; Rating: * * and 1/2 (two and a half stars)
BY VINAYAK CHAKRAVORTY
You’d be okay with all that goes on if you loved the first film. Coming 2 America essentially tries to be more of the same. Which is what most sequels do, except that this one comes a good 33 years after the original released.
Back in 1988 when Coming To America released, Eddie Murphy was a superstar. Revisiting a brand of comedy that seemed cool over three decades ago can be a tough deal, and Murphy is obviously banking on his fan base of yore to sail through.
Well, one thing is clear. At 59, Murphy has lost none of the vim. He strikes vintage form with comic timing and reloads the infectious, wicked grin every time he needs to add some extra dash to the proceedings.
It’s a watchable package that promises nothing extraordinary, delivers none. Strictly in terms of the title, the action this time is more concentrated in Zamunda, home turf of Murphy’s Prince Akeem, than Queens, although the focal point is triggered by the hero’s need to trek all the way to America, for the biggest discovery of his life.
Akeem’s rise from prince to king of Zamunda happens early on in the film. The script is minimal. Upon ascending to the throne, Akeem learns he has a son (Jermaine Fowler) in America, conceived during his visit to the country the first time around. He must return to America and trace his son and heir.
The story (Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield, Justin Kanew) manages to edge in a bit of gender politics, in between the random banter that goes on. Hakeem, who flies across half the world to seek out his son, has three able daughters — supremely confident and brilliant fighters who can outdo any opposition in close combat. This isn’t a film for deeper conversation, though, and all such prickly issues are amicably dealt with in the end.
Coming 2 America banks overtly on what worked all those years ago while carving its USP around Murphy. Which could be go both ways, actually. For hardcore fans, the film might come across as a whiff of the good old way fun films were made. For most others, the gags and punchlines could seem all too familiar after a point.
This was always meant to be Eddie Murphy’s film, but the cast does have a few other gems that regale. Wesley Snipes in a rare comic outing is a hoot. Arsenio Hall is still a funny prop to Akeem as his sidekick Semmi. As in the first film, Hall does multiple cameos this time too, and his get-up as Baba the witch doctor is particularly striking. Eddie Murphy’s daughter Bella makes a middling debut as Akeem’s second daughter Princess Omma.
Coming 2 America works in fits and starts. The film needed a less predictable storyline and a lot more laughs.