Skip to main content

A semi-automatic shotgun wedding it will be!

Coming 2 America
(2021)

(SPOILERS) Well, it’s better than Beverly Hills Cop III. That’s a treacherously low bar, I know. But then, Coming 2 America was tempting fate with such self-referential lines as “What do we have besides superhero movies, uh, remakes and sequels to old movies nobody asked for?” I was keen to see a Beverly Hills Cop IV for the same reason as I’d have liked a Die Hard VI or Lethal Weapon V (or Dirty Harry VI): send a series out on something approaching an acceptable quality level. Coming to America had at least avoid the spoiling of its legacy. Until now.

I’m not sure anyone was calling for a sequel, although I have to admit I never rated the original that highly in the first place. Coming 2 America manages to makes its star a supporting character, one where Eddie Murphy feels compelled – perhaps as atonement for gleeful youthful political incorrectness – to foist a tedious gender-equality plotline on Prince Akeem, one we’ve seen a hundred times before (even at the time of the first movie). That’s not the real problem, though. The real problem is that this comedy isn’t funny.

Director Craig Brewer and Murphy clearly got along famously making Dolemite is My Name, a serviceable comeback movie for the star that nevertheless looked a lot more fun to make. Everyone probably had a good time on Coming 2 America too, but the result drags desperately. Murphy mostly seems content to contribute little more than reaction shots, aside from the occasional enthusiastic prosthetically-enhanced moment (the barbershop, Randy Watson). He’s clearly having a particularly good time reacting to Wesley Snipes’s General Izzi, who is by far the highlight of the movie, even if he doesn’t get many good lines (although, they’re better than most of the cast’s).

The spotlight is instead reserved for Akeem’s hitherto unknown bastard son Lavelle (Jermain Fowler), brought to Zamunda and required to complete a series of tests to become prince while also becoming engaged to Izzi’s daughter Imani (Vanessa Bell Calloway, in the Grace Jones part). Oh, and along the way realising he’s actually in love with royal groomer Mirembe (Nomzamo Mbatha). Akeem’s daughter Princess Meeka (KiKi Layne) is none too happy about all this, denied the throne due to sexist Zamundan tradition. There are sufficient threads here to create a few sparks, but Brewer lets the movie limp along from scene to scene, and before long, anyone who has had a beef has patched things up. Which includes Queen Lisa (the returning Shari Headley) and Lavelle’s mum Mary (Leslie Jones), and also Semmi (Arsenio Hall) and Reem (Tracy Morgan, barely functional).

The gender plays are of the miserably clichéd variety, including fight sequences (the daughters besting Izzi) and Akeem being shut out of the marital bedroom. The culture-clash also fails to provoke any chuckles; instead, Lavelle torpidly shows his street smarts in order to sail through his tests (with the exception of the fake-out ceremonial circumcision telegraphed in the trailers). Fowler is likeable, but he isn’t funny, and his romance is insufficiently engaging to see him through these expansive patches of dead air.

As I said, I’m sure everyone was having a jolly old time making Coming 2 America, but there’s barely a trace of zest or comic timing. You can see it sporadically between Murphy and Hall, but their lines only occasionally land. Murphy also evidently called in a load of favours, with toe-curling cameos from the likes of En Vogue and Salt-N-Pepa unflatteringly recalling thirty-plus years ago and further underlining how woefully tired everything is. At least James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman have reason to be tired, being very, very old, but Murphy entirely fails to live up to his promise that the sequel is “even funnier than the first one”.

Good lines? Colin Jost struggles to justify wearing blackface: “I was Will Smith’s Aladdin, okay! There was blue face over the black face.” The barbershop reaction to Akeem’s return: “No child support for thirty years and you came back?” Akeem explaining himself to Lisa: “It was a totally honest mistake that can happen to anyone whose best friend introduced him to a strange woman who drugged him and had sex with him.” Izzi: “King Akeem, I have come to give you congratulations for locating one of your lost sperm.” It’s slim pickings, though. An inert dinner table scene sums Coming 2 America up really, an unflattering reminder of how uproarious an on-form Murphy was in another dinner table scene in The Nutty Professor.

Murphy will surely be grateful for the plandemic, given this stinker, since he’d have mustered pitiful box office had it received the intended cinema release. And on Amazon, Coming 2 America's sure to at least have subscribers investigating out of curiosity. The PG-13/12 certificate doesn’t deserve the blame, although there’s an undeniable aversion to anything remotely edgy, provocative or potentially offensive. The blame rests with a fat, middle aged Murphy who doesn’t have any urge to prove himself any more.


Popular posts from this blog

Abandon selective targeting. Shoot everything.

28 Weeks Later (2007) (SPOILERS) The first five minutes of 28 Weeks Later are far and away the best part of this sequel, offering in quick succession a devastating moral quandary and a waking nightmare, immortalised on the screen. After that, while significantly more polished, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo reveals his concept to be altogether inferior to Danny Boyle and Alex Garland’s, falling back on the crutches of gore, nihilism, and disengaging and limiting shifts of focus between characters in whom one has little investment in the first place.

The Bible never said anything about amphetamines.

The Color of Money (1986) (SPOILERS) I tend to think it’s evident when Scorsese isn’t truly exercised by material. He can still invest every ounce of the technical acumen at his fingertips, and the results can dazzle on that level, but you don’t really feel the filmmaker in the film. Which, for one of his pictures to truly carry a wallop, you need to do. We’ve seen quite a few in such deficit in recent years, most often teaming with Leo. The Color of Money , however, is the first where it was out-and-out evident the subject matter wasn’t Marty’s bag. He needed it, desperately, to come off, but in the manner a tradesman who wants to keep getting jobs. This sequel to The Hustler doesn’t linger in the mind, however good it may be, moment by moment.

I said I had no family. I didn’t say I had an empty apartment.

The Apartment (1960) (SPOILERS) Billy Wilder’s romcom delivered the genre that rare Best Picture Oscar winner. Albeit, The Apartment amounts to a rather grim (now) PG-rated scenario, one rife with adultery, attempted suicide, prostitution of the soul and subjective thereof of the body. And yet, it’s also, finally, rather sweet, so salving the darker passages and evidencing the director’s expertly judged balancing act. Time Out ’s Tom Milne suggested the ending was a cop out (“ boy forgives girl and all’s well ”). But really, what other ending did the audience or central characters deserve?

Your desecration of reality will not go unpunished.

2021-22 Best-of, Worst-of and Everything Else Besides The movies might be the most visible example of attempts to cling onto cultural remnants as the previous societal template clatters down the drain. It takes something people really want – unlike a Bond movie where he kicks the can – to suggest the model of yesteryear, one where a billion-dollar grosser was like sneezing. You can argue Spider-Man: No Way Home is replete with agendas of one sort or another, and that’s undoubtedly the case (that’s Hollywood), but crowding out any such extraneous elements (and they often are) is simply a consummate crowd-pleaser that taps into tangible nostalgia through its multiverse take. Of course, nostalgia for a mere seven years ago, for something you didn’t like anyway, is a symptom of how fraught these times have become.

If this were a hoax, would we have six dead men up on that mountain?

The X-Files 4.24: Gethsemane   Season Four is undoubtedly the point at which the duff arc episodes begin to amass, encroaching upon the decent ones for dominance. Fortunately, however, the season finale is a considerable improvement’s on Three’s, even if it’s a long way from the cliffhanger high of 2.25: Anasazi .

You have a very angry family, sir.

Eternals (2021) (SPOILERS) It would be overstating the case to suggest Eternals is a pleasant surprise, but given the adverse harbingers surrounding it, it’s a much more serviceable – if bloated – and thematically intriguing picture than I’d expected. The signature motifs of director and honestly-not-billionaire’s-progeny Chloé Zhao are present, mostly amounting to attempts at Malick-lite gauzy natural light and naturalism at odds with the rigidly unnatural material. There’s woke to spare too, since this is something of a Kevin Feige Phase Four flagship, one that rather floundered, showcasing his designs for a nu-MCU. Nevertheless, Eternals manages to maintain interest despite some very variable performances, effects, and the usual retreat into standard tropes, come the final big showdown.

Captain, he who walks in fire will burn his feet.

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) (SPOILERS) Ray Harryhausen returns to the kind of unadulterated fantasy material that made Jason and the Argonauts such a success – swords & stop motion, if you like. In between, there were a couple of less successful efforts, HG Wells adaptation First Men in the Moon and The Valley of the Gwangi (which I considered the best thing ever as a kid: dinosaur walks into a cowboy movie). Harryhausen’s special-effects supremacy – in a for-hire capacity – had also been consummately eclipsed by Raquel Welch’s fur bikini in One Million Years B.C . The Golden Voyage of Sinbad follows the expected Dynamation template – blank-slate hero, memorable creatures, McGuffin quest – but in its considerable favour, it also boasts a villainous performance by nobody-at-the-time, on-the-cusp-of-greatness Tom Baker.

Doctors make the worst patients.

Coma (1978) (SPOILERS) Michael Crichton’s sophomore big-screen feature, and by some distance his best. Perhaps it’s simply that this a milieu known to him, or perhaps it’s that it’s very much aligned to the there-and-now and present, but Coma , despite the occasional lapse in this adaptation of colleague Robin Cook’s novel, is an effective, creepy, resonant thriller and then some. Crichton knows his subject, and it shows – the picture is confident and verisimilitudinous in a way none of his other directorial efforts are – and his low-key – some might say clinical – approach pays dividends. You might also call it prescient, but that would be to suggest its subject matter wasn’t immediately relevant then too.

I think it’s wonderful the way things are changing.

Driving Miss Daisy (1989) (SPOILERS) The meticulous slightness of Driving Miss Daisy is precisely the reason it proved so lauded, and also why it presented a prime Best Picture pick: a feel-good, social-conscience-led flick for audiences who might not normally spare your standard Hollywood dross a glance. One for those who appreciate the typical Judi Dench feature, basically. While I’m hesitant to get behind anything Spike Lee, as Hollywood’s self-appointed race-relations arbiter, spouts, this was a year when he actually did deliver the goods, a genuinely decent movie – definitely a rarity for Lee – addressing the issues head-on that Driving Miss Daisy approaches in softly-softly fashion, reversing gingerly towards with the brake lights on. That doesn’t necessarily mean Do the Right Thing ought to have won Best Picture (or even that it should have been nominated for the same), but it does go to emphasise the Oscars’ tendency towards the self-congratulatory rather than the provocat

You’re the pattern and the prototype for a whole new age of biological exploration.

The Fly II (1989) (SPOILERS) David Cronenberg was not, it seems, a fan of the sequel to his hit 1986 remake, and while it’s quite possible he was just being snobby about a movie that put genre staples above theme or innovation, he wasn’t alone. Fox had realised, post- Aliens , that SF properties were ripe for hasty follow ups, and indiscriminately mined a number of popular pictures to immediately diminishing returns during the period ( Cocoon , Predator ). Neither critics nor audiences were impressed. In the case of The Fly II , though, it would be unfair to label the movie as outright bad. It simply lacks that *idea* that would justify the cash-in.