Coming 2 America
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, KiKi Layne, Shari Headley, Wesley Snipes
Director: Craig Brewer
Craig Brewer’s Coming 2 America is an out and out movie for the hundreds of fans that Eddie Murphy commands. Beyond this, the film now streaming on Amazon Prime, may attract two diametrical opposite views. It is either a fairy tale or a canvas that illuminates the African way of life with its loud songs, dances and, yes, fashion, fashion of bright colours and designs that run like a zig-zag puzzle. Coming 2 America, like its predecessor, John Landis’ immensely popular 1988 Coming to America has its pluses, one of them is the comedy, a little silly though.
Coming to America was all about Zamunda, an African kingdom that was never colonised, and hence retained its very unique way of life. There Prince Akeem was all set to inherit to throne from his ageing father.
In Coming 2 America, Akeem (Murphy of course) has just sat on the royal seat, his father, King Joffe, 90-year-old Earl Jones having just passed. Akeem has three lovely daughters but they cannot succeed him. For the Zamundan tradition says no to royal power passing on to a woman! And when Akeem finds out that had sired a son – he keeps calling him “bastard son” – during his earlier visit to America, he and his best friend, Simmi (Arsenio Hall), travel to “the land of plenty” to find that boy, Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler).
Do the two men find Lavelle? Of course they do. They had to. Otherwise, there is this lurking danger of a neighbouring kingdom, headed by a rogue, who is planning to take over Zamunda through a devious plot. But Lavelle does not come to Zamunda alone; he brings his scheming mother along, and when they arrive, Akeem’s wife, Queen Lisa (Shari Headley), is livid. So is his eldest daughter, Meeka (Kiki Layne), who feels that she has the right to inherit the kingdom. Unfortunately, women there are second class citizens!
Coming 2 America has its lighter, funny moments, like when Lavelle is told that he must pass a few tests to be eligible to become the next king. One of them is that he must cut the whiskers of a sleeping lion! My, my, how does he do this? He gets an advice. Use your intelligence, not your manly strength.
Brewer manages to create a certain visual grandeur in all this. The palace in Zamunda is almost magical. It is actually the Georgia mansion of rapper Rick Ross, and the catchy costumes by Oscar winner Ruth E. Carter add an enormous appeal.
However, beyond this Coming 2 America appears like a fairytale, a rather silly one at that. Murphy is a lot of fun to watch, his range revolves wonderfully from the very subtle to the very loud. What,though, is missing is the hyphen between these two. Alright, take your pakoras and sit through this banter.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is a movie critic and author of a biography of Adoor Gopalakrishnan)