“A prince in New York 2”: return to Zamunda

In 1988 took the poster Coming to America, comedy starring an Eddie Murphy at the height of its popularity. In what turned out to be one of the biggest hits of that year, the actor played Akeem, prince of the fictional kingdom of Zamunda, who came incognito to New York in order to find a wife he would be truly in love with. Since then, the film has enjoyed cult status by which even Eddie Murphy admits to being overwhelmed. This explaining that, Coming 2 America, a late sequel available on Prime Video starting Friday, was eagerly awaited. Comparative analysis.

For memory, Coming to America (A prince in New York, which is just as “cult” in its dubbed version) combines two concepts: the comedy type “fish out of water”, Akeem (Murphy) and his faithful Semmi (Arsenio Hall) discovering strong manners in the United States different from Zamunda’s, and the good old fairy tale. The added appeal of the film, and one of the reasons for its most likely longevity, is that Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall play several hilarious tertiary roles: the owner and elderly customers (including a white man played by Murphy) in ‘a barber shop, the overly intense reverend, the cheeky singer (flanked by his group Sexy Chocolat), etc.

As for the fairy tale, it ties in with the course of a prince charming while the romantic comedy usually tends to follow a princess.

Long, but necessary summary since Coming 2 America (A prince in New York 2, which we could only see in original version) includes all these elements. And add more. And add more.

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Overcrowded plot

During the first few minutes, the sequel promises to focus on Akeem, who is set to ascend to the throne. With Lisa (Shari Headley), he had three daughters, the eldest of whom, Meeka (Kiki Layne), would like to succeed him when the time comes. Unfortunately, the law is that only a male heir can rule. But now Akeem learns that he unwittingly (literally) gave birth to a son while in New York: Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler).

Upon entering the scene, Lavelle becomes the main character, and his stay in Zamunda offers a reversal of that of Akeem once in American countries. Besides Lavelle, the film has among other new characters his mother, Mary (Leslie Jones, who steals the show), his uncle Reem (Tracy Morgan), Mirembe (Nomzamo Mbatha), a palace employee with whom he befriends. , and General Izzi (Wesley Snipes), the dictator of a neighboring country.

Or, Coming 2 America bringing back virtually every character from the original, the film ends up with a crowded plot. So that, where that of 1988 held in two lines, that of 2021 does not cease to be added sub-plots in order to occupy everyone, while trying in vain to maintain a semblance of primacy over Eddie Murphy.

So, when we move away from the initiatory and romantic tale devoted to Lavelle, we spend time with Akeem who bends under the shadow of his father (James Earl Jones), notices that his marriage to Lisa darkens and tries to regain the affection of Meeka, furious with good reason. This, while trying to avoid a conflict with the neighboring nation – the least interesting complication.

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Between Lavelle and Akeem, we have two plots more competing than complementary, and each endowed with a protagonist surrounded by his own gallery of secondary characters. Hence this observation of an overcrowded plot. And hence the impression that this sequel has forgotten one of the main keys to the success of its predecessor, namely its narrative simplicity. Which narrative simplicity allowed all these absurd or fanciful moments, even when they were part of the apart, to form a cohesive whole. Conversely, Coming 2 America seems scattered.

Pleasure of performers

A handful of funny scenes stand out, but that’s it. And again, it’s the nods to the first film that make you smile the most (even though it’s close to the nostalgic grocery list). In this regard, Coming 2 America does not hesitate to make fun of the few sexist passages or those having just aged badly Coming to America (the bathers are back, but there is now also a bather).

Moreover, in a laudable effort, the following goes to a very critical commentary on the patriarchy: it is not very subtle, but welcome, and it is, in this case, one of the new elements that work the better. The (more) numerous musical numbers are also excellent, with surprise guests of choice (you have to watch the credits until the end!).

It remains that after the excellent Dolemite Is My Name, we expected better from this second collaboration between Eddie Murphy and director Craig Brewer (who succeeds John Landis here). A filmmaker who nevertheless possesses undeniable know-how (see also Hustle & Flow), Brewer delivers here an indifferent staging. The performers, on the other hand, seem to be having fun, and their pleasure is contagious.

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Finally, Coming 2 America can be watched without displeasure and should prance in the viewing statistics, but the film is forgotten as soon as seen. Alas, fairy tale or not, this time the charm is struggling to operate.

A Prince in New York 2 Coming 2 America

★★ 1/2

Comedy by Craig Bewer. With Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Shari Headley, Kiki Layne, Wesley Snipes, Tracy Morgan. United States, 2020, 110 minutes. On Prime Video.

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