Ewan Gleadow

Movie Review: Coming 2 America

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Copyright: Amazon Prime

While the smartest part of Coming 2 America may be the cheap pun in the title, it is a sad shame to think Eddie Murphy’s return to the big screen has already stumbled. As far as unnecessary sequels go, the monumental efforts that are found in this Coming to America sequel are odd, yet understandable. A last-ditch attempt at cashing in off of the nostalgia value general audiences have not just for Murphy, but his performance as King Akeem. That never worked for me, but I’m an old stick in the mud that can’t have fun, apparently. Therefore, it makes sense somewhat that Coming 2 America is stuck in the 1980s, both in its humour and its product placement approach to gags, performances and parodies.  

It is immediately pertinent to note that half of the jokes in Coming 2 America are mere continuations of the first film. Not in story, concept or evolution, but in the sense that they merely cough up the old gags with a modern touch. New caricatures are welcomed onto the screen, old friendships are rekindled and ruined through much the same storylines as before, and there is a frequent sense that Coming 2 America ran out of steam well before it reached post-production. Director Craig Brewer impressed both audiences and Murphy with Dolemite is My Name, and the collaboration of Brewer and Murphy simply hope to continue their work together. On the hunt for Akeem’s son, the dated sexism, the jokes of yesteryear and recurring characters are all thrust into the streets of New York once more. 

As a story, it works as a flimsy structure for the few jokes that work. Backstory that is not needed, future narrative threads that are redundant, to a degree. That is how modern comedies and sequels are cobbled together, Coming 2 America is just another piece of a much larger problem. Holding onto all the dated tropes of the genre, from musical numbers to blooper reels, celebrity cameos and callbacks to other, popular works. It is the style of comedy that died out a decade ago, yet Coming 2 America expects it to work for no reason other than it is based on a somewhat popular, nostalgia-fuelled original. That is not enough, neither to make the few jokes work or the awful script come to life.  

Move on. Relinquish the nostalgia and find something else. Coming 2 America is dead on arrival, with dated jokes that feel like the excess fat trimmed off of the first. That fat has congealed, morphed into something far past its sell-by date, and yet offered up on a prime-time platform. Murphy’s comeback tour continues, dragging with it the flailing uselessness of Wesley Snipes and Arsenio Hall. With quality like this, a return to the big screen will not last long for these former funny men. When you cannot grapple with the complexities of modern cinema and newer audiences, you have no real need to be making films, not when you are there solely to cash in on the tired, forgotten values of the sentimental suckers who hold Murphy dear in their hearts.