The Screen Room
Belated Sequels: Coming 2 America (2021)
This week’s belated sequel is a film I reviewed earlier this year so apologies if it still feels fresh, or in my case, opens up a festering wound that still hasn’t quite had time to heal just yet.
Yes, this week after being quite positive about the last couple of belated sequels I’m back to ranting - this time about a sequel I so badly wanted to like but sadly didn’t.
Coming 2 America (2021)
Previous Installment: Coming to America (1988)
Time since last installment: 33 years!
If you read my post about this film back in March you’ll know I’m a huge fan of the original - In fact it’s up there with the likes of Ghostbusters, Die Hard and Lethal Weapon as one of my favourite 80s movies.
I followed this film’s progress right from the announcement that it was being made, through the plot rumours, the delayed release due to Covid, the dropping of the official trailer, right up to the release of the movie itself.
With any film like this though there’s always going to be a certain amount of expectation, but with this one I just had a gut feeling it was going to be good. I was so wrong.
The first film is brilliant! It’s original, it’s hilarious, the characters are likeable, it stars Eddie Murphy in his prime, and most importantly it has a tonne of charm (largely thanks to Murphy's character, Akeem's innocence/ignorance).
The sequel unfortunately commits the crime that so many other belated movie sequels commit and that’s thinking that getting as many of the original cast members back as possible, throwing in some of the same jokes and using some of the same music from the original is enough to keep the fans happy. Oh, and let's not forget the most important thing....using the same or a very similar title because that’s so much more important than a good story...
I’ll never understand how these writers can’t come up with a really good idea for a story given so much time to do it. I can only assume it’s a studio thing where they feel that playing on the nostalgia of the first film is enough to please audiences. It’s a really lazy cash-in as far as I’m concerned and I hate that we see so much of it these days!
I bet that if you could get a refund on your ticket on the way out of the theatre after being disappointed with a movie, we’d start seeing more effort being made with these kinds of films.
If you haven’t seen Coming 2 America yet, the story picks up 30 years after the original film where Prince Akeem (Murphy) discovers, to his surprise that he sired a son on his trip to Queens back in 1988 whilst trying to find his future Queen.
He tracks down said son and brings him back to Zamunda since Zamundian tradition demands that only a male successor can inherit the throne. Since Akeem has fathered three daughters this poses a number of problems...
There’s a bit more to it than that but that’s the general gist.
In the film it’s explained that whilst in Queens looking for his future bride, Akeem’s aid Semmi (Arsenio Hall) enticed two women into spending the night with them, resulting in Akeem being inadvertently drugged, hence him not remembering the incident.
The whole thing feels like a real stretch to me and like it was shoehorned in just to provide a reason to go back to Queens in order for us to be subjected to the lazy, not so funny revisiting of some of the stuff that made the original so good.
Also, drugs or no drugs, this storyline kind of tarnishes Akeem’s purity from the first movie. He was extremely likeable and steadfast in his mission to find an independent woman who would love him for who he was and not for his royal status. I can’t believe that that Akeem would sleep with a random stranger any more than I believe that the strong-minded Lisa he eventually falls in love with would become the vacant, go-along-with-whatever-my-husband-says version of the character we see in the sequel.
I’m sure there are probably a lot of you reading this thinking, “I liked the movie, you’re being too critical”, and to the first part of that I say, good! I’m glad you enjoyed it. To the second part I say, I try not to be too critical. Personally I don’t like it when people dissect a film and see it as anything more than entertainment, BUT we’ve invested in these films! They’re our childhood, our memories, our escapism. To treat them with so little respect is an insult to the time, money and emotion we’ve spent on them. The least they can do is put some effort into the story!
Coming 2 America for me, is guilty of all the sins this kind of movie often commits. It has an unimaginative story, one dimensional and unlikeable characters, characters brought back from the original purely for decoration and to play on nostalgia, recycled jokes, you name it.
If they’d spent as much effort on getting a decent story together as they did trying to please us with all the other stuff, it probably would’ve been a much better film. Instead, we got a very soulless, unfunny and unimaginative follow up to a film that has everything this one lacks.
With Eddie Murphy expected to appear in the upcoming sequel to Twins (1988), entitled, “Triplets”, as well as the long awaited Beverly Hill’s Cop 4, I can’t help but wonder if he’s had his day and if these films are going to be two more movies I’ll be slagging off on a future Belated Sequels post. I hope not...
For me, this one sadly wasn’t worth the 33 year wait.
What do you think? Let me know your thoughts below.👇