This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Daniel Fienberg’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
[This does contain spoilers, but like... what's the point in caring?]
Over the years, I assume that there have been at least 50 commissioned "Coming to America" sequel scripts and, like a cannibalistic serial killer's refrigerator, bits and pieces of almost all of those scripts are scattered throughout "Coming 2 America," distributed without much interest in narrative momentum, character coherence or any particular cleverness, acted by a cast that feels less reunited and more on-loan from Madame Tussauds.
Money seems to have been spent on Ruth Carter's costumes, at times vaguely breathtaking, and nothing else because if you can rent Rick Ross' mansion, who needs production design. Good GRACIOUS this movie looks cheap as hell. I can't begin to understand Craig Brewer as a director, because it's just so eyebrow-raising that the guy behind "Hustle & Flow" and "Black Snake Moan" has so entirely lost track of sweaty, grimy authenticity. Or camera placement. Or editing. It feels like half the cast couldn't stand to be in the same room with the other half. Or, I guess, like half the cast was Eddie Murphy in latex and thus had to be creatively directed around.
But going back to Jeffrey Dahmer's fridge: At what stage in the process did somebody say, "Let's make this movie's instigating event a piece of hilarious date rape and we'll go from there?" I'm guessing that probably was from a 1991 script draft and for some reason nobody in 2019 says, "Hmmm. Can we think of anything better?" Because if the story of "Coming 2 America" is supposed to be Akeem coming to take pride in his three daughters and realizing he has to modernize his country, maybe his three daughters should have been the primary characters here and NOT his bastard date rape son, leaving those three daughters with, collectively, less than a single fleshed out character between the all of them.
And FUCK. It's not like this is hard. The plot of the movie is: Prince Akeem promises his daughter to the warlord's son, she runs off to Queens because she knows that's where her father found love so she thinks he'll have to respect it. He comes after her and is reminded of the simple joys that changed his life 30 years earlier. It's a clean inversion of the original plot and requires exactly ZERO bullshit embellishment. KiKi Layne could certainly still have starred! You can still use every single callback to the original movie that you want. More, in fact! This way you can work in an Eriq La Salle cameo and a Samuel L. Jackson cameo. Perhaps there's also a plotline about how Akeem and Lisa have lost their spark after all of those years in their Zamunda ivory tower and Akeem goes to stop his daughter in Queens and Lisa follows and their sparks are rekindled. Or something.
I don't have a clue what the plot of this movie even is. It has like 15 different fake climaxes wedged in-between the dozens and dozens of pandering callbacks to the original movie, some amusing and some wildly less-so. There are so many callbacks and fake climaxes that nothing by way of character relationships make any sense. I don't understand at ALL why Princess Meeka decides to work with Bastard Date Rape Son. I understand the principle of why Lisa befriends Date Rape Mom — something about rekindling her Queens roots because... ummm... they both know lyrics to "Humpty Dance"? The relationship between Bastard Date Rape Son and Hairdresser True Love Woman is established in two scenes, one of them raving for no particular reason about the "Barbershop" movie series (because Kenya Barris wrote a "Barbershop" movie).
It's bad. I did chuckle at a couple of the cameos. I'm not made of stone.
You know who's good, though? Wesley Snipes is fucking GOOD. He's a spectacular hammy villain with nothing at all to do. And maybe it's good that he has nothing to do, because his character points to the writers' conception of what contemporary Africa looks like, in contrast to the faux Afro-Retroism of Zamumba, and the minute you start thinking about THAT, the worse the movie looks. But Wesley Snipes delivers every hoary line magnificently and he struts into and out of every scene like he's still the start he should have been for the past 30 years. He's so at-ease and he exposes how wooden and uncomfortable Eddie Murphy looks here, even moreso when you remember how great Murphy was in his last collaboration with Brewer, 2019's "Dolemite Is My Name."
More this movie needed more Wesley Snipes, less everything else.
The movie probably should have been "Coming to Nextdoria."