What’s this? A movie review?! Yeah, been a while 😉 No, I’m not back at my beloved cinema, but as lockdowns and closures drag on, some of the distributers seems to be back in the mood to release some bigger titles to the streaming market again, rather than waiting waiting waiting for reopenings. And to be honest, I think movies like this – of interest, but would have needed a very slow week of releases to make a cinema trip – might actually benefit a bit.
Anyway. Background waffle ain’t really my thing, so on to the review!
It’s been 30 years since the events of Coming to America (1988), and Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is still married to his queen from Queens, Lisa, and they now have three daughters. But as his father, King Jaffe (James Earl Jones), nears death, the leader of the neighbouring country (Nexdoria, haha), General Izzy (Wesley Snipes, hamming it up), is threatening war against this ‘weak new son with no sons of his own’.
Ah, yes. It might be 2021, but the kingdom of Zamunda isn’t so hot on women’s rights, including the ban on women being named heir. You think maybe Queen Lisa might have had something to say about that over the decades? Hmm. But now, plot point! And more: turns out Akeem might indeed have a son – the result of a drugged-up encounter just before he found Lisa. What is a king-to-be to do except bring the lad – and his ott mom (Leslie Jones) – back to groom as the new prince? I mean, no way that’s going wrong, right?!
There is a very self-aware moment mid-movie where they slam sequels, especially those dredging up old movies many years later. I mean, it would have been amusing if it wasn’t quite so true. There is the nostalgia element here, and in fairness it shows some respect for the original, but overall I just felt that the story wasn’t strong enough or handled well enough to make it feel ‘worth it’. It still made for amusingly distracting viewing, though, so I’ll give it that.
The younger generation tend to come out a little better here, especially the eldest daughter, displaced by her surprise brother. However, the animosity between them is hugely underplayed, and then over with after a minute’s dialog – hmm, I say! The lad himself teeters on the line between comedy and parody, and doesn’t all come out well. Mind, given the rest of the cast often includes the cringe-worthy extra roles for stars Murphy and Arsenio Hall – the barbers, the sexist preacher, the no we really really didn’t need a revisit with Sexual Chocolate, argh! – then the rest of the cast is probably going to show up okay. There are some pretty cool cameos, too, which I won’t spoil 🙂
Overall then, this was kind of okay on a nostalgia level – although my (very socially distanced!) co-watchers could barely remember the original, as it’s not quite the classic that you might want to revisit. Mind, not sure that makes too much difference, as there are a lot of scenes used as flashbacks to remind you of everything.
Aside from that, it’s a very so-so movie. Ultimately I’m not sure any story element was given enough space between all the nods back and efforts at ‘oh this scene is really funny’ that really wasn’t. I did kind of like the parallels to Black Panther (2018) – the challenger heir to the throne, the American in Africa, etc etc – but again, they were relatively minor.
Still, there’s a dearth of new things to watch right now, and this wasn’t the worst way to spend a Friday night. Your mileage, as ever, may vary greatly.
Released: 5th March 2021
Viewed: 5th March 2021
Running time: 110 minutes
My rating: 5/10