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.

 

Two IFC Films and 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays of ‘Lord of the Rings,’ ‘Hobbit’ Top Slate of New Releases Available Dec. 1

Two films released theatrically and digitally by IFC Films over the summer, The Rental and Made in Italy, are coming to Blu-ray Disc and DVD Dec. 1, courtesy of independent home entertainment supplier Shout! Factory.

The week’s slate of new releases also includes the much-anticipated 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray debuts of two fantasy trilogies, “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit,” as well as the 1998 superhero film Blade, all from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment; the Tom Cruise classic Top Gun and the Eddie Murphy comedies Beverly Hills Cop and Coming to America, from Paramount Home Entertainment; and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the “Jumanji” trilogy, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The Rental, a horror film produced and directed by Dave Franco, follows two couples who rent a seaside home while on vacation, only to encounter an odd caretaker and suspect they are being spied on. The film was issued on video-on-demand and in select theaters in July by IFC.

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Made in Italy is a comedy-drama starring Liam Neeson as an artist who is restoring a villa with his estranged son (his real-life son, Micheál Richardson) after his wife dies in a terrible car crash. Made in Italy, too, was released on video-on-demand and in select theaters by IFC Films, in August.

“The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies were all huge box office hits. The “Lord of the Rings” trilogy — The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) and its two sequels, The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003) — earned nearly $3 billion in worldwide theaters and nabbed 17 Academy Awards.

The three “Hobbit” movies — 2012’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, 2013’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and 2014’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies — also collected nearly $3 billion at the worldwide box office.

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Top Gun is being released in a limited-edition Steelbook 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray combo pack. The story of an elite group of pilots competing to earn the title of “Top Gun” ultimately earned a worldwide box office of more than $350 million.  Cruise plays a daring young flyer who’s out to become the best of the best. The film also stars Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards and Meg Ryan.

Beverly Hills Cop has been remastered in 4K with HDR and is available in a 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray combo pack with digital copy. Murphy plays Axel Foley, a street-smart cop from Detroit. Tracking down his best friend’s killer in Beverly Hills, Axel smashes through the local barriers in a hilarious, high-speed pursuit of justice.

Also remastered in 4K with HDR — from a supervised restoration by director John Landis — Coming to America, too, is being issued as a limited-edition 4K Ultra HD Steelbook. Murphy stars as an African prince trying to find a princess. The mission leads him and his most loyal friend (Arsenio Hall) to Queens, New York.  In disguise as an impoverished immigrant, the pampered prince quickly finds himself a new job, new friends, new digs, new enemies and lots of trouble.

To accompany those two releases, Paramount on Dec. 1 also is re-releasing, on Blu-ray Disc, two other Murphy comedies, Trading Places and The Golden Child, as part of its “Paramount Presents” line.

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was initially released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in 2016, but is now back as a limited-edition Steelbook that includes the film on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray. The Steelbook also includes six deleted scenes presented in 4K Ultra HD with HDR, among other bonus features.

The “Jumanji” trilogy, previously available on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, also becomes available in a three-disc 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray set on Dec. 1. The package includes all three films in the franchise, the original Jumanji (1995), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017), and Jumanji: The Next Level (2019). The films follow the adventures of a bunch of characters thrust into danger while playing a video game.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.