Writing --- it’s all about the writing --- and with no less than four screenwriters, Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield, Kenya Barris and Justin Kanew, COMING 2 AMERICA offers one of the most poorly penned screenplays in recent memory. In 1988, COMING TO AMERICA was fresh, funny and highly original. Over 30 years later, COMING 2 AMERICA feels like a tired rehash which is not in the least bit amusing.


Eddie Murphy reprises his role as Prince Akeem Joffer with just about every person from the original recast in COMING 2 AMERICA. He is still married to Lisa (Shari Headley), his bride from Queens, and they have three beautiful daughters, Princess Meeka (Kiki Layne), Princess Omma (Bella Murphy, Eddie’s daughter in real life) and Princess Tinashe (Akiley Love).


However, Princess Meeka, the oldest, is unable to inherit the throne because of an arcane law requiring the ruler of Zamunda to be a male. Oh, but wait, Akeem learns from his father, King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) that he has an illegitimate son in Queens. His name is Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler) and he’s the result of a one-night stand Akeem had with Lavelle’s mother, Mary (Leslie Jones).


So, problem solved. Now all Akeem has to do is travel to Queens with his trusted sidekick, Semmi (Arsenio Hall), to convince Lavelle to relocate to Zamunda and learn how to become a prince.


COMING 2 AMERICA was filmed entirely in Atlanta, Georgia at the Tyler Perry Studio. The sets are beautiful and the lavish costumes by Oscar-winning designer Ruth E. Carter are divine. And that’s about the only positive thing I have to write about COMING 2 AMERICA.


In the original, everyone, especially Murphy and Hall, seemed to be having a blast. Whether they were playing the roles of Akeem and Semmi, members of the My-T-Sharp barbershop crew or Reverend Brown, Randy Watson and his hip band “Sexual Chocolate”, it was fun --- and funny. Now, in COMING 2 AMERICA, no one appears to be having a good time, except Jones, but I swear she could be joyful and crazy doing anything, anywhere.


The most egregious mistake for a comedy is not being funny. I did not laugh once. David and I have stated over and over that the most difficult script to write is a comedy. Blaustein, Sheffield, Barris and Kanew did themselves no favors with this clunky script which relies too heavily on retreads from the original. They may have been hilarious 33 years ago --- now, not so much.


It’s never a good sign when one is watching the countdown on the screening link, praying for the movie to be over. If you are really an Eddie Murphy fan --- or fans of anyone else in the original --- go watch that movie again and skip this.


Amazon Studios will exclusively release COMING 2 AMERICA globally on Prime Video March 5th, 2021


Opinion: Don’t Bother!







I guess the allure of appearing in an Eddie Murphy movie was too much to resist for a number of established names. We’re talking celebrities like Wesley Snipes, James Earl Jones, Trevor Noah, John Legend and an uncredited Morgan Freeman.


At one point the writers poke fun at themselves by mentioning movie sequels in a mocking tone. One thing is clear. We were advised to stay through the closing credits so as not to miss something. That turned out to be outtakes which are generally funnier than the comic material, but the only takeaway from here is that the actors decidedly were enjoying the making of COMING 2 AMERICA far more than we were watching it.


Occasional one-liners may resonate with some audiences. Leslie Jones, the SNL alum, plays Mary, the mother of King Akeem’s (Murphy) long lost son, Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler), both of whom reside in Queens, NY. When they are whisked to the nation of Zamunda so Lavelle can become prince, at their initial dinner Mary wonders why the mashed potatoes are black, not recognizing caviar. Later in one of many barbershop scenes, one of the cast members has a line about wanting a woman so black that when he makes love to her he would need a flashlight. I guess dialogue isn’t racist if the speaker is a member of the same race.


Both Murphy and Arsenio Hall have multiple roles, some unrecognizable. Hall, for example, is credited with six different parts, Murphy a mere four. Tracy Morgan has only one character, Uncle Reem to Fowler’s Lavelle, and that’s annoying enough. The film does feature some lovely actresses, including Shari Headley as Akeem’s Queen Lisa. I suppose her semi-drunk scene with Jones is relatively amusing. And I will give credit to Fowler who does a decent job with the script he is given.


I also confess to laughing out loud, however briefly, when King Akeem hails what he thinks is a Manhattan taxi --- even though it wasn’t yellow, go figure --- as a couple exit the vehicle. The driver replies that he needs to use the app and check for a promotional discount. That’s right --- it was a Lyft. More of that kind of situational humor contrasting the two cultures might have gone a long way for this film.


Maybe the most egregious aspect of COMING 2 AMERICA is that a gaggle of writers could not come up with a storyline more original than a king in a foreign land needs to have a male heir to continue the succession to the throne. Of course, a female cannot be considered even though said king has three daughters, one of whom could fill the bill. But the Zamunda laws forbid succession by a female, which explains why Jeanne kept shouting at the screen to “change the law!!”.


But enough of the synopsis/cast review. COMING 2 AMERICA is simply not funny. The only redeeming aspect of this sequel comes at the end of the closing credits when it is revealed that work on this movie provided employment for over 6000 individuals.


Amazon Studios will exclusively release COMING 2 AMERICA globally on Prime Video March 5th, 2021


Opinion: Don’t Bother!