The cinema might still be shut but ESP’s film reviewer Gavin Miller is keeping a close eye on the new releases hitting the small screen. He’s been checking out Eddie Murphy’s latest comedy… but does it provide much needed laughs?
It’s hard to believe that the original film that garnered so many laughs 33 years ago didn’t leave anything funny for the sequel.
This follow-up to Eddie Murphy’s much-loved 1988 comedy Coming to America has a few nostalgic nods that just about make it serviceable fare – but it’s seriously devoid of the laugh-out-loud moments that were littered throughout the bordering-on-five-star first movie.
All the main cast are back – led by Murphy’s Akeem who has evolved from prince to King of Zamunda – but sadly three decades wasn’t enough time for anyone to write a particularly funny script. It has the odd moment, but it’s extremely predictable – showing very little ingenuity whatsoever.
Murphy is joined by his Queen, Lisa (Shari Headley) – who have had three daughters together – along with his returning best friend Semmi (Arsenio Hall), royal servant Oha (Paul Bates), Lisa’s father Cleo (John Amos), and the legendary James Earl Jones as his father – along with various other cameos with throwbacks to the original.
Wesley Snipes joins the fray as the general of neighbouring country Nextdoria – who is threatening various aggressive tactics if one of his offspring isn’t wed to the Jaffe Joffer Zamundan legacy – alongside American comedic mainstays Leslie Jones and Tracy Morgan.
Even Gladys Knight, Salt-N-Pepa, En Vogue and John Legend pop in for some musical cameos – alongside some impressively authentic African dance sequences – but sadly despite the impressive production it is sadly devoid of any standout comedic moments.
As previously mentioned, Akeem and Lisa have three daughters, and by Zamundan law only a son can take over the throne from him. It then comes to light that when Akeem and Semmi were in Queens last time out, that Akeem was drugged and inadvertently had sex with Jones’ (Ghostbusters reboot) Mary.
She now has a thirty-year-old son in the form of Jermaine Fowler’s Lavelle – arguably the best thing about the movie – and Akeem has to try and bring him to Zamunda to evolve him into a prince.
Sadly – despite cameos from the likes of the Barbershop trio, soul singer Randy Watson and Reverend Brown from the original – very little time is spent in New York during this outing, with it mainly centred on the African country. Which doesn’t enable the same arena for noteworthy comedic set-pieces to transpire like the first film did.
What does ensue is some rather dated comedy centred around very formulaic plotlines: Lavelle ‘finding himself’, why laws can’t be changed for Akeem’s daughters to be heirs, Snipes’ General Izzi threatening Zamunda due to his believed-betrayal etc – which you can see coming a mile off.
Fortunately the final third brings it all together in a kind of ‘sweet’ and competent fashion for a passably nostalgic conclusion – but if this is anything to go by then we should be very worried for Murphy’s in-production Beverly Hills Cop IV.
And when the comedic movie ‘failsafe’ of the much-loved end credit scenes still fail to garner any laughs, you can’t help but wonder what Murphy and co were doing for all these years – as this ends up being ‘meh’ at its very best.
Which is a bit of a shame.
ESP Rating: 2/5
Platform: Amazon Prime
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Jermaine Fowler, Shari Headley, Wesley Snipes, Arsenio Hall, Kiki Layne, Nomzamo Mbatha, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, John Amos, Paul Bates, Teyana Taylor, Bella Murphy, Akiley Love, Louie Anderson, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Morgan Freeman & James Earl Jones
Running Time: 1 Hr 49 Mins
Director: Craig Brewer