DDo we need a sequel to Eddie Murphy’s 1980s fish out of water movie Coming to America, with the word “to” turned into a “2”? Will this trigger wacky sequels to Bergman’s Face to Face or Kurosawa’s To Live?
The original film, directed by John Landis, had Murphy as disgruntled Prince Akeem from the fictional African state of Zamunda, obedient to his sonorous father the king (James Earl Jones), but yearning for a modern, independent bride. So he travels to Queens, New York with his friend Semmi (whose name doesn’t have the obvious gag despite the nonstop sexual innuendo), played by Arsenio Hall. Posing as students, they meet various latex comedy characters (barbers, hair salon clients, etc., played by Murphy and Hall) and Akeem eventually finds happiness with Lisa, played by Shari Headley. A 1989 television pilot starring In Living Color’s Tommy Davidson was not cast.
This new film, starring once again by Murphy (directed by Craig Brewer and scripted by the credited writers of the first film, Barry Sheffield and David W Blaustein, with Kenya Barris) finds us in Zamunda, 33 years later, with Akeem and Lisa now middle-aged. prince and princess and the sick king still on the throne. But having become the father of three daughters, Akeem is mortified to realize that Zamunda’s reactionary constitution will not allow him to make them his heirs. Then comes the news that he has a son from a fun but heretofore largely forgotten one-night stand in New York with Mary (Leslie Jones). This unpromising kid, Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler), is working as a ticket reseller for his Uncle Reem (Tracy Morgan). So Akeem and Semmi travel once more to America to find Lavelle (and that barbershop) and wake him up to his glorious destiny of Zamundan.
It’s unclear how much attitudes have changed in Zamunda or even the United States since 1988. Wakanda’s success in Black Panther means that a made-up African country is not automatically considered offensive, and its neighboring state Nextdoria is pretty funny. But the princes of Zamundan still have the right to be “bathed” by young, attractive female attendants and, indeed, to have sex with them (although there are now male attendants for American guests). One such hairdresser, Mirembe (Nomzamo Mbatha) is nevertheless a smart, professional-minded young woman, and Lavelle seems to fall in love with her and not the bland princess she chose for him. Akeem’s fierce daughters Meeka (KiKi Layne), Omma (Bella Murphy, Eddie’s daughter), and Tinashe (Akiley Love) are there to provide girl power.
But the movie is as tired and middle-aged as Akeem himself; Murphy is strangely waxy and stately, and he has no authority figures that he can really play with. The movie itself has a preemptive dialogue between Lavelle and Mirembe on the subject of whether sequels can ever work: Lavelle believes the Barbershop franchise was successful, and there is some discussion as to whether Queen Latifah’s Beauty Shop spin-off counts. There could also be another sneaky touch of self-referencing when we find out that McDowell’s, a scam burger joint from McDonald’s, which once employed Akeem as a humble mopper in Queens, now has a franchise in Zamunda, but the manager is still getting copyright lawsuits. from McDonald’s.
But the movie is basically as tired as Akeem himself, the waxy and majestic Eddie Murphy, who has no authority figures to play with. Going 2 Africa is a strange journey. There’s no way to say that things have changed, because it follows the same old-fashioned / modern template: Lavelle is sloppy and disrespectful, but has a modernity and vibrancy that Zamunda supposedly needs, although his quaint old-fashioned is what supposedly makes him fun. , and there is no explicit talk of changing that sexist constitution. Going 2 Africa is a strange journey.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism