Somewhere between Wakanda and Nexdoria among the fictional nations of Africa lay Zamunda. People old enough to have grandchildren will remember it as the opulent but silly place from which the personable Prince Akeem Joffer hailed in the dubiously dubbed cult classic "Coming to America." Since its coronation in 1988, the land ruled by the prince's regal, Darth Vader-ish father, King Joffer (James Earl Jones), has slipped the consciousness of most short-minded Americans who've long since moved on to that other clueless royal family, the Kardashians.
Ah, but wait, the zany, but aged, crown prince (think Charles of Wales), is mounting a comeback, no matter how ill-conceived it may be, in the utterly unnecessary "Coming 2 America." And it's as counterfeit as the "Golden Arcs" gracing his nation's No. 1 fast-food franchise, McDowell's, home to the world-famous Big Mic - or, as I like to call it (with apologies to "Pulp Fiction") a Royale with Cheese. And films just don't get cheesier than Eddie Murphy dusting off Akeem's royal mantle to deposit a No. 2 on his loyal fandom. Boy, does it stink! Would you expect anything less from a film featuring a farting lion?
Excuse me, but I forgot to laugh - largely because Murphy and some of the world's top comedians forgot to be funny. Lucky for them, followers won't need to drop a dime to experience Murphy's wonky sequel. They just must be a member of what in this case is the ironically dubbed Amazon Prime. If this is "prime," I'd hate to get a whiff of the dregs. "OK," you say, "I get it, you hated it. But why?"
Oh, where do I begin: Murphy's phony, phoned-in portrayal of Prince Akeem; the creaky plot involving a clumsily cooked-up "bastard son" to take Akeem's place as Zamunda's crown prince; Wesley Snipes' militant General Izzi repeatedly making grand entrances to the royal palace as if he's leading a Super Bowl halftime show; Gladys Knight and Salt 'n' Pepa making cringe-worthy cameos debasing their biggest hits; Akeem's three daughters (Kiki Layne, Bella Murphy, Akiley Love) lurking about as useless window dressing before one evolves into a cheap third-act copout; Leslie Jones' shameless stereotyping as the unintended recipient of Akeem's royal seed during a one-night stand 30 years back in Queens; or Murphy and co-conspirator Arsenio Hall (aka Akeem's right-hand-man, Simme) buried under garish make-up preening while dusting off every caricatured un-P.C. character they played in the original movie?
That is but the tip of the iceberg this Titanic-sized flop crashes into during a grueling 108-minute sinking. Where are Jack and Rose when you need them? And where is the truth in advertising when the vast majority of "America" takes place in Zamunda? Perhaps director Craig Brewer, coming off the huge success he and Murphy enjoyed with "Dolemite Is My Name," and their host of writers should have listened to Teyana Taylor's beautiful liaison to the budding crown prince (an utterly blank and unfunny Jermaine Fowler) when in a rare meta moment she schools the young man about the diminishing rewards of sequels, rightly saying "If something is good, why ruin it." Indeed!
She leaves out one important factor, and that's the $125 million in cash Murphy and company pinched from the deep pockets of Amazon head Jeff Bezos. It didn't seem to matter if the film was any good, just that it had the sacred "2" in its title. It's the old "you fooled them once, let's fool them again" mentality that makes critics, as well as fleeced moviegoers, so cynical. But, hey, when it's on the small screen for free, what have you got to lose but your precious time?
Whether the misguided machinations of Murphy, Hall and "SNL" alums Leslie Jones and Tracy Morgan are worth such a sacrifice, you decide. I say it's an utter waste. Instead of being fit for a future king and his queen from Queens (Shari Headley), "Coming 2 America" is best left to the junk heap of Murphy's numerous other cinematic failures. Instead of "Coming," it should be going; for what happens in Zamunda, should remain in Zamunda.
Al Alexander may be reached at email@example.com