I’ve watched the original Coming To America film no fewer than 2,000 times. That is no exaggeration. I can quote the entire movie line-for-line from the magnificent intro straight down to the last word uttered by Shari Headley’s character, Lisa, in the movie’s final scene. That word was “nahhhh,” by the way.
In the black community, Coming To America is a classic – one that showcases people of colour in the most spectacular way – as kings and queens who were both erudite, unapologetic and exceptional.
It also introduced a new audience to some of the most gifted actors on the planet – James Earl Jones, anybody?
And for a film that debuted 33 years ago, it has had an exceptional run, recruiting a new generation of fans with every showing.
True fans of the 1988 film tend to fall into two categories: the protectionists who firmly believe such a cult classic should never be touched by mortal hands, and those who were curious about a sequel, but thought it best to leave good enough alone.
Eddie Murphy, who reprises his role as Prince Akeem is much different in this role. Gone is the fresh-faced, wide-eyed, Dudley-Do-Right prince that we remember who was determined and more than willing to renounce his throne for the woman of his dreams, Lisa McDowell.
Lots Of Views, Even More Criticism
The movie, which debuted Saturday on Amazon Prime, got millions of views, and possibly even more criticism. The backlash has been brutal with many bashing the film for its stereotypes.
For the record, I happen to be one of those protectionists who did not ask for a sequel. But, hearing so much criticism of the film actually made me want to watch and rate it for myself. I rarely let someone’s opinion of a film deter me from watching it.
Seconds into the movie, I knew it was a dud. Pardon me, not just a dud. A gaudy, hot-mess-of-a-film that made me wonder who the hell gave it a budget and the green light.
While it gave me pleasure to see so many of the original actors reprise their roles, I felt sad that it had to be on this film. I would have preferred for Eddie Murphy to do a sit-down interview with all of the original cast members and talk about the iconic film. Kinda like what Will Smith did with the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air last year.
While watching the film, I immediately observed that Murphy seemed absent on screen. We know he’s there because we’re looking at him, but there is definitely a void. A blankness. This is Eddie Murphy for God’s sake. Living legend. Comedy god. Yet, he was upstaged by side actors and others making cameos.
The movie was woefully short on jokes, which made it painful to watch. One of the reasons fans fell in love with the original Coming To America, was because it was hilarious, irreverent and unpredictable in some respects. Coming 2 America, on the other hand, was not.
It was a glitzy snoozefest of a flick, peppered by three jokes, all of which were delivered by Wesley Snipes in his role as General Izzi. Were it not for Snipes, I would have fallen into a coma.
Other Problems With Coming 2 America
One of the reasons Prince Akeem was a likeable character was because he seemed innocent. His intentions were not only pure, they were noble. There was a naivety about him that audiences came to appreciate.
In Coming 2 America, we learn that the prince that we came to love and admire is now a baby daddy and a deadbeat dad at that. It’s just ridiculous and the way he became a baby daddy is even more ridiculous. Laughable. But, still not funny. Can we get one movie without a black man being a deadbeat? Please? Asking for a friend.
Many people have commented about the African stereotypes in the film. While the film was smart to make Zamunda a fictional African country, it doesn’t help quell the stereotypes. I can understand why some Africans would be upset.
I find that Hollywood is very binary when it comes to its depictions of Africa. Either everyone is royalty or they are slaves/genocide victims. Rarely do we see films with plain, regular Africans.
Coming 2 America also treaded lightly with controversial themes. At times, it was a little too “woke” for me.
There is so much that I could say about this film, but it would all be bad.
I would advise everyone to watch the film and make up their minds for themselves. Apparently, some people thought it was the funniest movie they’ve ever seen. I don’t know what passes for humour these days. Because Coming 2 America ain’t it.
This Bahamian Gyal