Friday, 18 June 2021

‘Coming 2 America’ comedy reunion; Hallmark TV preview



‘COMING 2 AMERICA’ RATED PG-13 ON AMAZON PRIME VIDEO

Making a sequel to a beloved comedy more than three decades later is challenging. Will it be something completely fresh or a rehash of many rhetorical devices that were so endearing the first time around?

For “Coming 2 America,” an Amazon Prime Video original movie that is a semi-sequel to 1988’s “Coming to America,” starring Eddie Murphy as an African prince from the fictional country of Zamunda, it might be a little of both, depending on one’s estimation of its originality.

One thing that might be indisputable, despite any critical divide over the film’s appeal, is that the extravagant costumes, designed by Ruth E. Carter (Oscar winner for “Black Panther” fashion), certainly bring a spectacular look to this production.

Over 30 years ago Eddie Murphy’s young, pampered Prince Akeem traveled undercover to New York City’s borough of Queens to find an independent woman to be his bride rather than accept an arranged marriage.

Still with the love of his life, Lisa (Shari Headley, reprising the role), Prince Akeem has three strong-willed daughters, the oldest one Meeka (KiKi Layne) having spent her life preparing to be the heir to the throne even if royal decree requires a male to takeover.

Enter Wesley Snipes as General Izzi, leader of the rival nation of Nexdoria, who remains upset that Akeem backed out of an arranged union with his sister Imani (Vanessa Bell Calloway) to jet off to America to find his true love.

Plotting to unify his country with Zamunda for a taste of prosperity, General Izzi offers up his son Idi (Rotimi) to marry Meeka, an idea which is immediately shut down, but that’s not the end of Izzi’s plotting to secure his place in Zamunda.

Meanwhile, Zamunda’s aging King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones also reprising this role) delivers the shocking news that Akeem has a long-lost illegitimate son, Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler), the product of a drunken one-night dalliance during the Queens sojourn.

Traveling back to New York with his trusted sidekick Semmi (Arsenio Hall also back), Prince Akeem finds Lavelle, referred to as his “bastard son,” a slacker scalping tickets to basketball games at Madison Square Garden.

Needing an heir to the throne, Akeem can only convince Lavelle to return with him to Zamunda as long as his son can bring his mother Mary (Leslie Jones) and Uncle Reem (Tracy Morgan) along for an adventure in a distant land.

Culture shock sets in for the Americans to comedic effect as they try to adapt to an opulent lifestyle of luxury, especially for Lavelle as he’s expected to acclimate to the trappings and customs of royalty.

Next comes an appeasement to General Izzi with the notion that Lavelle will marry the military leader’s alluring daughter Bopoto (Teyana Taylor), but the new prince yearns for the pretty palace hairstylist Mirembe (Nomzamo Mbatha).

The nostalgia that comes with “Coming 2 America” and the comic pleasures derived from Eddie Murphy and his crew surmount the dated material so that enough joy makes for a nice diversion.

HALLMARK CHANNEL PREVIEW

During the winter press tour, the Hallmark Channel rightfully boasted that it surmounted the challenge this past year of delivering a slate of 40 new original holiday movies during industry-wide production shutdowns.

President and CEO Wonya Lucas reminded the TV critics that “Hallmark has been in the Christmas business well before it was a network,” marketing greeting cards and ornaments for a hundred years.

For 2021, Hallmark already has 26 movies in production, with many more to come when holiday season rolls around again. Filming in places like Utah and North Carolina can be done safely, but the majority of the shooting takes place in Vancouver.

Hallmark Channel celebrates the return of its annual “Spring Fling” programming event with romantic stories that will transport viewers to snowcapped mountains, mythical waterfalls, Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher and beyond.

Late March brings the first of five all-new original movie premieres every Saturday night, starting with “Chasing Waterfalls,” starring Cindy Busby and Christopher Russell.

Busby’s aspiring photographer Amy gets a career break on assignment to shoot one of North America’s fabled waterfalls and ends up falling for her rugged guide Mark (Russell) and bonding with his young daughter.

In “Breakup Bootcamp,” Italia Ricci’s Miranda runs a boot camp for the recently broken hearted, and she forms a connection with Ben (Ryan Paevey), an undercover investigative reporter.

Taylor Cole’s Cara is leaving on an international book tour in two weeks and Jack Turner’s Ben is busy with a business expansion, but that won’t interfere with them going ahead with their nuptials in “One Perfect Wedding.”

Fitting for its Irish setting, in “As Luck Would Have It” JoAnna Garcia Swisher’s Lindsey decides to enter the town’s world-famous matchmaking festival to win over a handsome local (Allen Leech).

The last movie in the series, lacking a final title, stars Janel Parrish’s Carly getting a second chance at romance with her college crush with the help of a new friend (Marco Grazzini).

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

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