Coming 2 America: Did We Really Need This? – Amazon Prime Review

It’s a sequel to a classic thirty years later, but Bill and Ted 3, this ain’t.

SUMMARY

It’s been 30 years since Prince Akeem Joffer (Eddie Murphy) traveled to Queens, New York, with his best friend Semmi (Arsenio Hall) to find his bride, Lisa (Shari Headley). His dying father, King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones), reveals that when Akeem went to America, he was drugged and sexually assaulted by a woman named Mary Junson (Leslie Jones), resulting in a son named Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler). As Akeem becomes king, he is threatened by the ruler of the kingdom of Nexdoria, General Izzi (Wesley Snipes). Akeem travels to America to find Lavelle so that he can use him to broker peace with General Izzi, much to the chagrin of Akeem’s daughters Meeka, Omma, and Tinashe (KiKi Layne, Bella Murphy, and Akiley Love). Hijinks will ensue.

It’s not so good to be the king?

END SUMMARY

Coming to America is one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen. It’s a command performance by Eddie Murphy at the peak of his career, and that was a hell of a peak, combining with Arsenio Hall in roles that would seem impossible for most actors. The supporting cast in it was amazing, from James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair as Akeem’s parents to John Amos and Louie Anderson as the staff of McDowell’s, one of the funniest joke ideas in the film. It’s a ridiculous premise that is played straight at all times and somehow still works on almost every level. Hell, I owned a t-shirt from the fake band Sexual Chocolate at one point. This movie holds up better than almost any 80s comedy, mostly because a lot of the humor is just timeless and the story of a person trying to buck stupid traditions is almost always relevant. 

These two were comedy gods at one point.

Unfortunately, there really was not much of a story left to tell after that one, which meant that this sequel had to come up with something out of whole cloth. While some films, like Bill and Ted 3, can find a way to make the time gap from the previous story into an element that makes it even more relevant, this film instead mostly undid the point of the last one. In this movie, Akeem has to essentially adopt Lavelle because he needs a son, as Zamundan law dictates that the throne can only pass patrilineally. Rather than just ignoring this as a stupid rule that has no place in the modern world, the same thing that he did in the original movie, we instead watch an entire film of Akeem apparently now being the same authority he rebelled against. I realize that this is not entirely inaccurate, as each generation tends to eventually be the power that the next one fights, but this movie makes it feel so forced that it seems ridiculous. 

His daughters are depicted as extremely competent, just to make it more blatant.

It’s even worse that it’s motivated by Wesley Snipes, who is depicted as the leader of an impoverished nation that might start a war with Zamunda. While I understand Akeem wanting to avoid bloodshed, it’s a ridiculous idea that a broke country could somehow beat what is stated to be one of the wealthiest nations in the world. When one country can afford an air force and the other can’t, the one without the air force doesn’t do well on the invasion. It makes Akeem, a guy who fought off a shotgun-wielding Sam Jackson with a mop, into a coward and an idiot.

This isn’t Simon Phoenix. This guy couldn’t take on the Salvation Army.

Another problem is that almost all of the actual funny parts of the movie are just retreads of jokes from the first film. For example, one of the most memorable jokes in the original is watching a world-weary and depressed Akeem stand in the bath, only to watch a beautiful naked woman emerge and state “the royal penis is clean.” It’s basically the perfect shot of a person living the life that others can only dream of but not being fulfilled. In this movie, they replicate it, but with Leslie Jones… and she is VERY fulfilled. It’s a funny joke, but it lacks any actual point. Sure, seeing the old Jewish man or the return of Sexual Chocolate feel great, but ultimately it’s just rehashing what was good then and not adding anything new. There are a few new bits that work, but they’re fewer than you want.

This reference is incredibly forced.

Also, it’s weird to me that they just skip over the part where Akeem was essentially drugged and raped by Mary and, to a lesser extent, Semmi. They basically treat it as a joke, as opposed to, you know, a f*cking crime. 

Overall, it’s just not a great sequel. Just watch the original again and be happy. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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The Old Guard: Amazing Superhero Action Film – Netflix Review

Charlize Theron leads a team of immortal warriors against Big Pharma.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Andy (Charlize Theron), Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari), and Nicky (Luca Marinelli) are four soldiers who are recruited to rescue a group of kidnapped children in the Sudan by CIA agent Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor). They’re betrayed, but end up surviving because the four are actually a group of ancient warriors with nigh-immortality. At the same time, U.S. Marine Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne) is mortally wounded in Afghanistan, but recovers, revealing her to be the next in the line of immortals. She’s soon recruited by the four and they discover that they are being hunted by Steven Merrick (Harry Melling), a billionaire pharmaceutical executive who wants them for his research.

They have been killing longer than most countries.

END SUMMARY

If you’ve never seen Love and Basketball, you absolutely should, because it is a well-crafted story that combines a tight script with a lot of non-verbal storytelling to craft a drama. This movie is basically that, except that instead of telling a romance about athletes, it’s a series of amazing action set pieces combined with some solid character moments that really flesh out what could easily have been one-dimensional characters. The reason why I compare these films is that they both are directed by the incredibly talented Gina Prince-Blythewood, who is now, officially, the first black woman to direct a superhero film (and she’s already set to direct another in the next year or so). Her films, including The Secret Life of Bees or Beyond the Lights, are marked by something that almost seems rare nowadays: Sincerity. She doesn’t mock her subject matter, regardless of what it is, and for a comic book film that can be a game changer.

There’s a lot less snark than your average Marvel movie.

It’s that same sincerity that really sets the characters apart. Rather than just telling us how each of the characters is haunted by the fact that everyone they know will die, the film gives us a number of flashbacks and memories that reflect upon the pain and loss that they’ve suffered. We’re shown the story of Quynh (Van Veronica Ngo), a former immortal who was trapped in an iron coffin and drowned over and over again for centuries, and that image is burned into the cast as well as the viewers. That’s the kind of stuff that would normally be subverted in a modern comic film, but instead here is played painfully straight. These kind of character moments are peppered throughout and make everyone a little bit deeper and a lot more complex than you would expect from a movie with a team of gun-toting immortals.

Or an adaptation of a comic about said immortals.

Neither the story of this film nor the characters themselves are particularly original. The concept of a super-regenerating or nearly unkillable action hero has been done from Wolverine to Painkiller Jane. However, The Old Guard is one of the first movies where the choreography actually reflects that these people know they can take a beating, but they still feel pain. You see them willing to use their immortality to throw people off guard, since most people would evade things like “getting shot in the heart,” but they still only do it sparingly. As a reflection of their age, they also are all experts with melee weapons that are indigenous to their origins, including Andy, who wields a battleaxe, which is basically the most kickass of backup weapons. Unfortunately, I kept waiting for someone to say “let me axe you a question,” because that seemed like a thing that would eventually happen. I was happy that such a pun did not, in fact, occur. 

I love the intricate work on her outfit, too. Details make the big picture work.

Overall, honestly, this is just a great movie. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.