Director: Craig Brewer
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Wesley Snipes, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Kiki Layne, & Nomzamo Mbatha
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Well… we finally got it! After the hints and plugs last year about this sequel being in production, Eddie Murphy’s #Coming2America arrived. I don’t think I’ve seen us Black folk so excited about a film since #BlackPanther. I mean, we were READY! One of the teachers I work with even said, “That’s what I plan to see right when I get home…it better be already on the screen waiting, so all I have to do is hit play…don’t be surprised if I come up in here on Monday wearing my dashiki kaftan.”
I was also excited about this release, despite my hesitation once I realized Leslie Jones was in the film. I was ready for the nostalgia, and to see just what this story would look like as not only a sequel, but in a 2021 context. Did I get my nostalgia? Absolutely. Unfortunately, that was it. #Coming2America is now the 5th film (I think with #BarbAndStar I said 3rd, but I was wrong) I’ve seen where casting and hype was used to lead me to a disappointing story (Remember, #LikeABoss #Bliss, #BarbAndStar, and #LockedDown on HBO were the other 4).
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Below are my grades for key components in #Coming2America that I find to be key in any story/film—Theme, Plot, Pacing, and Character Arc/Development. I think it is also important for me to add that moving forward, I will not include a plus-rating in my breakdown, but will continue with minus-ratings.
Additionally, I have added an entertainment factor scale to help you determine whether or not the film is something you’d be interested in taking time out of your weekend, evening, or day to watch. The scale range consists of: Worth the Watch, Interesting Enough (if looking for something new to start), & Don’t Rush.
I have also added a few non-spoiling thoughts, wonderings, and comments as I watched the film to help give some rationale for my grades and entertainment scale.
Character Arc/Development: C-
Entertainment Factor: Don’t Rush
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1. Honestly, the funniest and cutest moment for me was the credits. Seeing the bloopers and behind the scenes of the fun and joy made me smile. 😩🥰
2. It was nice to see Arsenio and Eddie get back into their comedic alter-characters (Randy Watson, the old men at the barbershop, and the reverend for example). It really displays the craft that they have to be able to jump right in after 30 years. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾
3. You know…I mentioned being hesitant due to Leslie Jones, but her character was actually enjoyable in this film. I liked her. 👍🏾👍🏾
4. It’s been SO long since we’ve seen Wesley due to the tax debacle and what not, and it was just nice to see him in this fun way. 👍🏾
5. YEEESSSSS Teyana Taylor! Giving us what you give OH so well! #Periodt! 🙌🏾🙌🏾
6. Although the nostalgia was real…it felt like it was forced upon me. Nothing felt genuine or seamless at all… Even that random ass McDowell and the entire scene itself.. 👀🥴👎🏾
7. Speaking of things not feeing seamless or genuine…the storyline with the daughter…hell, even having daughters/children didn’t feel real. They felt like quick stand-in daughters when needing to fake the idea of family. 👎🏾
8. I did appreciate the many images of brown skinned Black women. Yeeeesssss! 🙌🏾🙌🏾
9. Tracey Morgan was another gem in this film. I really enjoyed him. 👍🏾👍🏾
10. Another moment that I loved was the conversations in the barbershop scene. I think they were the perfect context to touch on how “times have changed.”👍🏾👍🏾
11. Soooo…they buying Puma? She doesn’t have a Zamunda original? Chile… 👀🤦🏾♂️
12. Chile… as Tony Baker would say, “What in the habberdashery and heebengloben” was going on with that George of the Jungle ass test? Like, WHAT!? 😳🤦🏾♂️🤣👎🏾
13. To go back to point #10, although his moment was short…..ol’ boy in the barber chair… he was a cutie. 😜
14. You know…a name that came across the screen that also didn’t make me happy was Kenya Barris as executive producer and Screenplay writer… I don’t know why, but…uh uh. 🥴And I didn’t notice his name until I gave this film a 2nd watch (well, I could only get through the first 10-15 minutes on the second watch before falling asleep). 🤷🏾♂️
15. Lavelle, who was supposed to be our star, wasn’t really memorable. I mean, he did look good once Mirembe got to him (and I actually loved him with the rat tail 😜😜😍), but he was really forgettable when he should have been the ushering in of a modern “Akeem.” 🤷🏾♂️
16. The whole “Nextdoria” element to the plot was extremely childish, lazy in creativity, and too extra for me. 👎🏾👎🏾
17. Oh…that damn “funeral party” shyt! HUH!? Absolutely NOT! It took away from the nostalgic respect and appreciation I should’ve had. 🤦🏾♂️👎🏾👎🏾
18. Oooo…that outfit that Lavelle had on when doing his “test…” I liked that. 👍🏾👍🏾
19. The CGI work was really good! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👍🏾
20. Sooooo…no one thought to start the guard’s tears from his actually eye? 🤦🏾♂️
21. Y’all know she was sent out the room in the first Coming To America hopping on one leg and sounding like an orangutan, right? 👀🥴
22. OOOOOO MMMMMMM GGGGGG… we gotta have a rap and song scene? 🤦🏾♂️🤦🏾♂️🤦🏾♂️🤦🏾♂️SERIOUSLY? 👎🏾👎🏾👎🏾
23. I couldn’t take Lisa and Akeem’s love seriously anymore, to be honest. 🤷🏾♂️👎🏾
24. Chile, who is this old shaman character? 🤦🏾♂️
25. You wanna talk about a stretch…the whole premise that leads to the purpose of the plot…oh they reeeeeeached to make that “past situation” happen. 😂🤦🏾♂️
26. Um…that race conversation via the interview… forced and random… 👎🏾
27. One moment that truly waters down this film, for me, was the “circumcision” scene… that moment alone pulled the rating down. 🤦🏾♂️
28. REALLY! What a King? Gladys Knight? Chiiiiiiile! … this was the first moment that watered down the film, for me. 🤦🏾♂️🤦🏾♂️
29. It didn’t make sense for Teyana’s character to “be like her aunt” in conversation, especially if her brother was the way he was…and the Akeem’s daughters were attuned to generational shifts…🤨
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Overall, #Coming2America is definitely colorful celebration, and might even be fun to a few people. But for me, it felt like a random ass mash-up of Spike Lee’s #Chiraq, with some leftovers from #TheKlumps and #Norbit, some #BlackPanther sifted in there, and sprinkles of the original #ComingToAmerica… and I didn’t like that at all. Like #BarbAndStarGoToVistaDelMar, the film just felt like a bunch of rich folk getting together to have fun and humor themselves…
There was no intention around story, and the humor felt forced / overly exaggerated. I even had lingering moments where I didn’t like seeing Eddie and Shari on the screen as Akeem and Lisa…they just didn’t feel the same.
For me, this sequel tarnished the reverence of the title which still shares cadence with the first film. I even went back to watch the first film IMMEDIATELY after watching this sequel because I wanted to appreciate the title again. The story, again.
Eddie Murphy truly had something with the first film, and this second film could have been so much more…
- What if he and Lisa had to go back to Queens for something pertaining to her family, with Akeem navigating the changes of New York with his family?
- What if his daughter went through a similar story as he did, but discovering something different with her sexuality?
- What if he actually had a son who went through the same journey as the original, but this time we see what it’s like finding a bride in 2021 with millennials?
And I could go on, but dammit! Who was in the fish tank of ideas that didn’t speak up? I personally didn’t want just a “fun” film… I wanted another Coming to America experience; and similarly to how I felt about Spike Lee’s #Chiraq, this vision from Eddie Murphy and his team felt extremely out of touch.