Coming 2 America

Posted on March 4, 2021 at 5:51 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, language, and drug content
Profanity: Strong and crude language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Alcohol and drugs
Violence/ Scariness: Threats of violence, guns seen but not used, martial arts combat
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie, but transphobic humor
Date Released to Theaters: March 5, 2021
Copyright 2021 Amazon Studios

I’ve got nothing against fan service, content created just for people who are already devoted to the characters or stories or performers. But it is fair to ask whether it can be more than that, or if it is even trying for more than that. “Coming 2 America” looks like its primary priority was a fun project, with the secondary side benefit of pleasing the fans and making some money. It’s lazy but pleasant and occasionally funny even if you don’t appreciate all of the inside jokes. In other words, by pandemic standards, it’s a mildly entertaining watch.

“Coming 2 America” is made 33 years after the original film starring Eddie Murphy as Akeem, an African prince from the fictional and idyllic country of Zamunda, who goes to New York to find a bride. In “Coming 2 America,” Murphy and many of his co-stars return. Akeem is happily married to the woman he brought back from Queens, Lisa (again played by Shari Headley), and they have three daughters. Lisa’s father, Cleo McDowell (again played by John Amos) has moved his fast food restaurant to Zamunda and is still insisting it is not a rip-off of McDonald’s.

But Akeem’s father, the king (James Earl Jones) is dying, and Akeem’s daughters cannot inherit the throne because Zamudan law and tradition requires a male heir. And the king is not above suggesting that fathering daughters is an indication of Akeem’s lack of manliness. The daughters have warrior training and are loving, thoughtful young women who care deeply for their country. But they cannot inherit the throne. General Izzi (Wesley Snipes), who heads the neighboring country of Nextdoria (this name gives you some idea of the level of humor in the film), wants Akeem’s oldest daughter to marry his nephew, to unite the two countries. Her new husband would become king.

Akeem discovers that when he was in Queens, in a one-time encounter he has no memory of (because it did not exist in the original film, but let’s just ret-con it into being), he fathered a son. And he decides to go back to Queens to bring that son back to take over as heir to the throne.

All of which is just an excuse for a lot of references to the first film, not just meeting up with many of the characters played then and now by Murphy and Arsenio Hall as Akeem’s sidekick, Semmi. That means we see updated versions of the guys at the barber shop (both the barbers and the elderly white alte kackers and the preacher for hire, and more. It also means we get an entirely unnecessary recap of the original film, inserted as filler, and even more unnecessary references to other Murphy films for which additional unnecessary sequels are apparently underway. It’s the MCU (Murphy Cinematic Universe)!

Akeem’s son is Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler), who agrees to go to Zamunda, bringing his mother, played by the redoubtable Leslie Jones. Will he be able to pass the “prince test?” Will Akeem’s daughter get over her resentment? How about her mother? Will Lavelle agree to marry General Izzi’s compliant and extremely beautiful and limber daughter?

You know the answer to that as well as you know that there will be a lot of silly stuff along the way, including some very crude humor and vulgar language for a PG-13, and some outtakes over the end credits (stay all the way to the end). It’s all done with good humor and panache. If the energy behind the fabulous Ruth Carter costumes and choreography by Fatima Robinson are in sharp contrast to the “let’s do it in one take” vibe of Murphy’s performance (presumably the obviousness of the insertion of the stunt double was intended to be funny), and the “let’s not think too hard about the plot” (really? Girls can’t inherit the throne? Date rape? A trans joke in 2021?) the movie’s unequivocal endorsement of true love based in respect and friendship (and of the ability of women to fill any role that appeals to them) makes it easy to overlook its failings.

Parents should know that this movie has martial arts combat and guns are shown but not used. Characters drink and get drunk and smoke marijuana. There is extended crude humor and language, possible date rape, and a transphobic joke.

Family discussion: What have been the most significant changes in culture since the first film and are they reflected in the sequel? What test would you give a prince?

If you like this, try: “Coming to America”

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Comedy movie review Movies -- format Movies -- Reviews Romance Series/Sequel


Posted on July 14, 2016 at 5:20 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
Profanity: Mild language
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Extended fantasy/paranormal violence with some disturbing images
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: July 15, 2016
Date Released to DVD: October 10, 2016 ASIN: B01I2FFGW6

Copyright Columbia 2016
Copyright Columbia 2016
I’m willing to believe them. I mean, sure, the original is a classic, mostly thanks to Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, and a new approach to action/paranormal comedy. But the reboot has the Mount Rushmore of movie comedy with SNL writer/cast members Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Kristen Wiig, plus America’s sweetheart Melissa McCarthy. That’s some serious comedy power there, and some serious dimples, too. It pays tribute to the original, opening with the Ray Parker, Jr. song and featuring cameos from original cast members Murray, Aykroyd, Hudson, Potts, and Weaver, and a couple of the original ghosts, too.

But it is very much its own take on the story, with a fresh script from director Paul Feig and Katie Dippold (“Parks and Recreation,” “The Heat”). There are tweaks on the original’s headquarters and car. And it has updated references — you know that if a New Yorker saw a ghost today, she’d whip out a selfie stick and Instagram it, and they pause for a burn on Reddit haters).

Like the original, it begins with scientists losing their jobs in academia because of their insistence on exploring the paranormal. Wiig plays Erin, a physicist who misses her chance at tenure when it is revealed that she once co-authored a book called Ghosts from Our Past — Both Literally and Figuratively. It was out of print, but the other author, her estranged friend Abby (McCarthy), has made it available on Amazon. Erin visits Abby’s lab and meets Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon), a mad scientist type who literally plays with fire. When they are all fired, they start a company to investigate the paranormal and are soon joined by Patty (Jones), a subway worker who does not know much about science but has an extensive knowledge of New York city history. And they hire a receptionist named Kevin (“Thor’s” Chris Hemsworth) and get to work trying to capture a ghost so they can prove they are right.

Meanwhile, a nerdy guy is building a machine to unleash and intensify all of the spirits in the city, and so the women go from studying the ghosts to, yes, busting them, with a major confrontation in the midst of a metal concert with a group called “The Slimers” onstage and Ozzy Osbourne watching in the wings. The mayor (Andy Garcia) and his aide (Cecily Strong) thank the team privately but denounce them as frauds publicly to keep the city from panicking.

The final confrontation goes on a bit too long, which is probably why there is an obvious cut of what would have been a dance number (glimpsed in the credits and I hope added in full to the DVD extras). But the action scenes are strong and the comedy is first-rate, at its best achieving a deliriously loopy silliness that is refreshing in an era where gross-out, oh-no-they-didn’t jokes are considered wit.

Each of the four main characters is clearly having a blast showing what she does best, creating distinctive characters with very different styles but always working the chemistry between them with dialog that often feels improvised by actors trying to make each other laugh. It is refreshing to see a movie with four female leads who are professional, super-smart, and totally badass, kicking the butts of all the ghosts and demons and the Bechdel test as well. Their happily ever after is saving Manhattan not getting some guy to put a ring on it.

Newcomer-to the big screen McKinnon tears it up as a Doc Brown type with a wicked smile, a steampunk vibe, and a Faraday cage, swinging into a Glinda the Good Witch song and handing out weapons from a motion-activated proton glove to a Swiss army knife. “She’s doing a marvelous impression of a deflating balloon,” she says as one of her colleagues is being shot through the air. Jones, also in her first feature film lead role, is outstanding as Patty, who knows who she is and what she wants. McCarthy is adorable as always and has a lot of fun with a particular demon. And Hemsworth is flat-out hilarious as the incompetent Kevin. It’s funny, smart, and sweet and in every way as good or better than the original. Fanboys, have at it.

NOTE: Stay through the credits for glimpses of the excised dance scene and some other treats, and following the credits, a brief extra scene with some important information.

Parents should know that this film includes extended fantasy/horror peril and violence. Characters are killed (one off-screen, one suicide by electrocution), and there are some gruesome images and mild crude humor.

Family discussion: What’s your favorite ghost story? Which was the scariest ghost in the movie?

If you like this, try: the original “Ghostbusters,” “Monster House,” and “ParaNorman”

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Action/Adventure Comedy DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week Fantasy Remake Scene After the Credits
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