Rather a lot has occurred within the 33 years since Coming to America hit theaters in 1988, just some weeks earlier than NWA’s single “Straight Outta Compton” became a phenomenon.
Eddie Murphy is now not the field workplace star that he was, and the America of at this time has a distinct form of racial consciousness than America in 1988.
Murphy was then one of many greatest film stars in America, with a string of hits beneath his belt, together with the Buying and selling Locations and the Beverly Hills Cop films, and two wildly influential comedy specials, Delirious and Uncooked. And whereas the principally white vital institution appeared baffled by Coming to America, a slapstick movie about an African prince, audiences completely liked it. It made $21 million in its opening weekend, on its $28 million price range. That field workplace take mushroomed to $300 million worldwide earlier than it closed practically six months later.
Watching Coming to America now, it’s not onerous to see why it was successful. It’s a bizarre snort-laugher of a comedy, a film that begs to be watched in an viewers the place the guffaws coming from the row behind you simply make you giggle tougher. Murphy performed Prince Akeem of Zamunda, a rich and fabulous fictional African nation dominated by his father, King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones). As Zamundan royalty, Akeem’s marriage has been deliberate since his beginning; he’s betrothed to the obsequious daughter of a neighboring ruler. However Akeem needs one thing totally different. So he and his greatest buddy, Semmi (Arsenio Corridor), take off for America so Akeem can “sow his royal oats” and, he hopes, discover a spouse with whom he shares a real connection.
The place to discover a queen in New York Metropolis however in, nicely, Queens? Akeem meets the love of his life, Lisa (Shari Headley), will get a job pushing a mop in a quick meals restaurant, and finds out concerning the establishment of the Black barbershop. And he learns that Black greatness is as alive and nicely in America as in Zamunda. The film is loaded with terrific Black actors, together with John Amos, Allison Dean, and bit components for everybody from Frankie Faison to not-yet-famous Samuel L. Jackson and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Coming to America was radical simply because it existed — a movie with virtually no talking components for white actors that was nonetheless a large hit, not simply within the US however world wide. If Hollywood stored beating the “Black films don’t travel” legendary drum for many years longer for some purpose (we all know the explanation), it wasn’t Coming to America’s fault.
Given its rapturous reception and decades-long iconic standing, a sequel has lengthy been within the works. Due in theaters in late 2020, it was pandemic-delayed into 2021 with a streaming launch as an alternative.
And in some ways in which feels proper. Coming 2 America is unimaginable to dislike. It’s cleaner than the unique, maybe in line with Murphy’s present life as a household man, a father of 10 and grandfather now, too, who has solely lately re-entered life in the public eye. (His comeback was the significantly bawdier 2019 Netflix comedy Dolemite Is My Name; Craig Brewer, who directed that one, directs Coming 2 America, too.) The nudity is gone, even when the lewd jokes are nonetheless there — Leslie Jones is on this film, in any case — and your complete vibe is a bit more family-friendly, much less transgressive, extra like a standard-issue studio comedy of the twenty first century.
It’s simply as sweet-natured because the older movie, too. Akeem’s starry-eyed naivete went a great distance towards making the premise of the unique movie work, somewhat than really feel form of gross. That will get doubled-back and reversed for Coming 2 America, during which solely a really tiny little bit of time is definitely spent in America. As an alternative, on this installment, King Jaffe is nearing the top of his life. Akeem, Lisa, and their three daughters have been residing a contented life in Zamunda. However even though the ladies are all badass warrior princesses, the eldest, Meeka (the good Kiki Layne), can not inherit her father’s kingdom. Zamunda’s backward legal guidelines nonetheless decree that solely a male can rule. And so both Meeka must marry, or Akeem wants to supply a male inheritor, stat. (Meeka is Akeem backward, which is a enjoyable contact.)
That is, startlingly sufficient, shortly completed. Again of their Queens days, Semmi engineered a strategy to have Akeem unknowingly (on medicine) impregnate a girl, an occasion he has no reminiscence of doing. (Yikes?) So in Queens awaits the long run ruler of Zamunda, Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler), who lives together with his wryly named mom, Mary (Jones, having a ton of enjoyable). Akeem and Semmi take off to gather him and produce him again to Zamunda.
Regardless of a premise vaguely harking back to The Princess Diaries, Coming 2 America is basically only a nostalgia-fest, much less of a sequel than a remix. There’s a light lesson buried in right here about how our younger passions and ambitions and braveness can calcify into passive, placid complacency over time. And there’s after all the usual, straight-faced exhortation to be true to your self, comply with your coronary heart, be your personal particular person — all of that Hollywood stuff.
Coming 2 America is basically only a film about how enjoyable and nice Coming to America was. It offers us one other strategy to dance to the prior film’s beat. It’s filled with cameos from the older movie, even unbelievable ones (these outdated guys within the barbershop would have positively kicked the bucket by now). It chuckles about how totally different Queens is now; it calls in everybody from Wesley Snipes to Trevor Noah, Morgan Freeman, and Tracy Morgan for secondary roles and bit components; it’s bought some nice musical scenes from performers I gained’t reveal in order to not destroy the enjoyable. Most all the pieces within the movie is a reference to one thing from its predecessor, however that’s form of the thought: reminiscing concerning the good outdated days, not wholly in contrast to what these barbershop guys like to do all day.
I strongly suspect it’s partly my pandemic exhaustion speaking, however whereas I didn’t have practically as a lot enjoyable watching Coming 2 America as I did the unique, I nonetheless had enjoyable. Watching the movie feels just a bit like going to a themed anniversary celebration, or attending to attend the premiere occasion after the movie, one thing no one has gotten to do for some time. There’s nothing subversive or radical concerning the movie itself; it’s far much less uncommon to discover a Black-led movie atop the field workplace lists nowadays (when there are field places of work, anyhow). And in its insistence on the overall goodness of its characters and other people’s capacity to vary their outdated concepts into new ones, it retains that genial, winking angle that the primary movie embodied. Occasions change, and concepts change, and the discourse adjustments, however some issues don’t have to vary all that a lot to nonetheless be enjoyable.
Coming 2 America is streaming on Amazon Prime.