Coming 2 America

STREAMING REVIEW:

Amazon Prime Video/Paramount;
Comedy;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for crude and sexual content, language and drug content;
Stars Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, Kiki Layne, Shari Headley, Wesley Snipes, James Earl Jones, John Amos, Teyana Taylor, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Paul Bates, Nomzamo Mbatha.

The long-anticipated sequel to 1988’s Coming to America is mostly successful in replicating the fun of the original film, if not necessarily the freshness of it.

Picking up more than three decades after the events of the first film, Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) of the small African nation of Zamunda is now happily married to Lisa (Shari Headley, also reprising her role from the original), and they have three daughters. However, as King Jaffe (James Earl Jones) reiterates while on his deathbed, that the throne of Zamunda by law can only pass to a male heir. And without a son to secure his legacy, Akeem after his coronation can expect to be swiftly executed by agents working for Gen. Izzi (Wesley Snipes), the dictator of the neighboring country and older brother to the woman Akeem spurned in the first film to marry Lisa. Jaffe’s shaman, however, has a vision of a long-lost son of Akeem living in America, who can become the heir the country needs once Akeem is king.

Soon enough, Jaffe dies, and his funeral sets off a string of fun cameos that pop up throughout the film. This also being technically the third film of the Trading Places cinematic universe, viewers can rest assured that Coming 2 America, like its predecessor, makes appropriate nods to the Duke family from that 1983 comedy.

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For as lighthearted as it wants to be, though, Coming 2 America is almost derailed by an ill-conceived plot development that threatens to completely undercut whatever nostalgic good will carries over from the first film. That comes in the form of a flashback to events of the first film, in which it is revealed that Akeem at one point was inadvertently drugged, leading to an unintended sexual encounter with the woman (Leslie Jones), who would provide his only son. Even where this scene is supposed to have happened doesn’t seem to fit the timeline of the first film, but it does enough to move the plot forward.

So, Akeem and his loyal aide Semmi (Arsenio Hall) return to New York to retrieve his son. While the film delights in fun callbacks to the original film, it’s not a full rehash of the plot. Once Akeem finds his son, Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler), it doesn’t take much convincing to get him to hop on a private plane back to Zamunda to begin training for his princely duties.

The attention on Lavelle, naturally, stirs tensions between Akeem and his daughters, who in the 21st century see no reason why women should not be able to inherit the throne.

Anyone looking for groundbreaking comedy isn’t likely to find it here. But fans of Coming to America should find plenty to enjoy in this continuation of the story of Zamunda and its zany royal family.

 

Chart: ‘Coming 2 America’ Topped March 5-7 Weekend Movie Streaming

Amazon Prime Video’s launch of Coming 2 America was the most-watched movie from March 5-7 according to Reelgood, which scans myriad streaming services by 2 million users. Amazon heavily hyped acquiring the streaming rights to the Paramount Pictures’ sequel to Coming to America (1988) — both titles starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall, among others.

Notably, Reelgood said the movie outperformed titles Warner Bros. Pictures’ Wonder Woman 1984, Disney/Pixar Animation’s Soul, and Amazon’s Golden Globes-winning Borat Subsequent Moviefilm in terms of streaming and engagement shares during their respective opening weekends. To be more specific, Coming 2 America opened to a 6% market share vs. Wonder Woman 1984’s 4% market share — the latter being the strongest opening weekend performance on any SVOD platform in the fourth quarter of 2020.

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Amazon Prime Video Streaming Eddie Murphy Sequel ‘Coming 2 America’ on March 5, 2021

Amazon Prime Video on Nov. 20 disclosed that March 5, 2021, is the release date for Paramount Pictures’ erstwhile theatrical release Coming 2 America — with Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall, among others, reprising their original roles from the 1988 box office hit Coming to America.

Amazon acquired the rights to the sequel for a reported $125 million after Paramount Pictures decided not to release the movie on its original Dec. 18 box office debut date.

Set 30 years later, Prince Akeem (Murphy), heir to the throne of the African nation of Zamunda, discovers he has a long-lost son who lives in Queens, New York. He returns to America to find his son and groom him as the new prince. In addition to Murphy and Hall, Coming 2 America returning cast members include James Earl Jones, Shari Headley, John Amos and Louie Anderson. Newcomers include Wesley Snipes, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, Jermaine Fowler, Bella Murphy, Rotimi, KiKi Layne, Nomzamo Mbatha and Teyana Taylor.

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Coming to America was a cultural phenomenon that is one of the most loved and celebrated comedies of all time,” Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, said in a statement. “Thanks to Eddie Murphy’s comedic genius along with the brilliant filmmakers, writers and fabulous cast, we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate this new adventure. We know audiences around the world will fall in love with this hilarious, joyful movie that will surely become a timeless favorite.”

 

Paramount’s Eddie Murphy Sequel ‘Coming 2 America’ Going to Amazon Prime Video

Chalk up another loss for the theatrical market. Paramount Pictures has reportedly licensed rights to the Eddie Murphy sequel Coming 2 America to Amazon Prime Video for $125 million. The movie, co-starring original headliners Murphy and Arsenio Hall, is slated to bow on Prime Dec. 18 — the same date as the original theatrical launch, according to Deadline, which first reported the move.

Co-stars in the sequel, in which Akeem (Murphy) learns he has a long-lost son in the United States and must return to meet the unlikely heir to the throne of Zamunda, include Tracy Morgan, Wesley Snipes, Leslie Jones and Jay Pharaoh.

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Amazon had been relatively quiet on content spending in 2020 compared with rivals Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max and Apple — reportedly slated to spend $6 million on original content this year before the coronavirus hit.

Now the deal represents another high-profile theatrical steal for Amazon Studios under the direction of Jennifer Salke, following deals for Sasha Baron Cohen’s second Borat flick, and Dave Bautista’s My Spy.

The 1988 original Coming to America was a blockbuster for Paramount, generating $128 million at domestic screens and $288 million worldwide — just behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Rain Man.

The transaction leaves just four high-profile studio movies still on the theatrical calendar in 2020, including Open Road’s Honest Thief on Oct. 16; 20th Century’s Free Guy starring Ryan Reynolds on Dec. 11; Death on the Nile with Kenneth Branagh reprising Agatha Christie’s Belgian sleuth detective Hercules Poirot on Dec. 18; and Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman 1984 on Christmas.

Studios have repeatedly pushed back big-budget releases to 2021 as theaters grapple with pandemic closures and limited seating at screens that are open. With Warner’s espionage thriller Tenet failing to bring consumers in the U.S. back to the cineplex, the domestic box office is trending nearly 80% below 2019 levels.