Zamunda's Prince Akeem returns to Queens, New York, this time in search of an illegitimate son in Coming 2 America, the follow-up to Eddie Murphy's 1988 cult classic Coming to America. Does it live up to its predecessor? Not according to the 51% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a worse 44% audience score. Four takes on the movie, now airing on Amazon Prime and in select theaters:
- The film offers up fun celebrity cameos, "eye-popping costumes" (from Black Panther's Ruth E. Carter), "elaborately choreographed dance numbers," and a new "strongly feminist theme," writes Frank Scheck at the Hollywood Reporter. But "less a sequel than a remake featuring a younger actor going through the same narrative paces as Murphy in the original, Coming 2 America includes so many nods to its predecessor that it feels like a feature-length Easter egg in search of a movie."
- It "feels downright lazy" as "half the jokes are simply repeats of beloved gags from the original film," writes Peter Debruge at Variety. As for that feminist angle, challenging the idea that Akeem needs a male successor "hardly feels earth-shattering," Debruge writes. At least Leslie Jones "makes her presence felt in a way that the movie's other largely one-dimensional women don't dare, wresting some of the more retrograde gags away from the boys."
- It's not a great movie, but it's "great fun" and "surprisingly gorgeous," writes Ann Hornaday at the Washington Post, giving the film three stars out of four. It "aims squarely to serve its audience, with no apology and a surfeit of pleasures, both simple and wildly extravagant," she writes. She also praises the delightful images and Carter's all-out Afrocentric aesthetic.
- Barry Hertz, however, was left wishing "for the sweet relief" of 2007’s Norbit, which he argues is "easily the worst film of [Murphy's], or anyone else's, career." Whereas that film was "genuinely committed to its distasteful sensibility," Coming 2 America is "merely offensively forgettable," Hertz writes at the Globe and Mail. He does acknowledge humorous performances by Arsenio Hall and Wesley Snipes. "But otherwise, it is all pointless high-wattage cameos, time-eating musical performances and easy Wakanda jokes that you or I could have dreamt up."
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