Coming 2 America is a victim of its own success. Well, not its success. But the success of Coming to America, its predecessor.
The first movie casts a long shadow with its unshadowed charm and magnetism. After all, it came out in 1988 at the height of Eddie Murphy-mania.
As a critical and commercial success, it proved to be a cultural touchstone whose building blocks even contributed to Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s wardrobe when the two dressed up as Murphy’s Prince Akeem and Madge Sinclair’s Queen Aoleon for Halloween in 2015.
The first movie had appeal on three levels: Murphy was Hollywood’s leading man and simply the “coolest guy on earth” in the 80s.
Two, it was a coming-of-age love story whose message proves that love can come into its own; if given the chance.
Finally, it was hilarious as a fish-out-of-water comedy. It was like Crocodile Dundee, with a rose petal-throwing fanfare of acclaim.
The sequel was always going to be measured against such a towering legacy.
However, taken on its own merits, it is a strikingly good movie.
Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is no longer a starry-eyed aristocrat, but a father to three Amazonian daughters.
They are like Wonderwoman, thrice over.
Although, it is clear, nobody wants a third instalment of that superhero movie.
Akeem’s father King Jaffe (James Earl Jones) is on his death bed, and dies at his own funeral!
Zamunda, the fictional kingdom where Akeem becomes king, comes under threat from neighboring despot General Izzi (a pimp-walking Wesley Snipes). Izzi leads a country aptly named “Nextdoria”.
General Izzi wants his lounge-lizard son to wed Akeem’s oldest daughter, Meeka (Kiki Layne) in a shotgun marriage which may bestow benefits to both countries.
However Witch Doctor Baba (Arsenio Hall) reveals Akeem has an illegitimate son in Queens, New York. So Akeem and his trusted assistant Semmi (Arsenio Hall again) have to return to New York in order to find the rightful heir to the throne.
How did Akeem get an illegitimate son when he was going steady with Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley), you ask?
Well, it turns out he had a one-night stand with the unvirgin Mary (Leslie Jones) before he met Lisa.
It was a drug-fuelled one-night stand, reminiscent of when Murphy got drunk for the first time in real life. On that occasion, he roughed up Coming to America director John Landis.
Anyway, in New York we go back to the barbershop where Akeem lost his royal ponytail.
Expect some comic relief from the motor-mouthed oldies therein; they are still cutting hair and shooting the breeze 30 years after we first saw them do the same.
This way, Lavelle can be crowned king.
I won’t spoil the happy ending for you, except to say it involves some “Sexual Chocolate”.
This movie was good, but it seemed like an attempt to reboot the glorious past of Eddie Murphy: king of the 80s.
Which is, to put it lightly, a thankless task.
When Eddie did Coming to America 1, he was deeply in love with the ravishing Lisa Figueroa.
Sadly, she broke his heart.
So, like any great artist, he channeled this heartbreak into the biggest standup show of all time (Raw) & Coming to America.
Murphy himself said his breakup with Lisa Figueroa was traumatic and provided the “core” of “Raw” as well as “Coming to America.”
Lisa Figueroa= Lisa McDowell.
Yes, I said it.
In Coming 2 America, Eddie had no hurt feelings or unrequited passion to draw upon.
Effort was made, however.
The emotional scene where Akeem visits McDowell’s and has a heart-to-heart with Cleo (again played by a frail-lookingJohn Amos) is a case in point.
It works, but like most of the movie, it doesn’t work like part 1.