Cinema Dispatch: Coming 2 America

Coming 2 America and all the images you see in this review are owned by Amazon Studios

Directed by Craig Brewer

Coming to America is not a movie I have much nostalgia for.  I didn’t see it until I was well into my twenties and while I found it amusing it wasn’t exactly an all-time classic for me, so while I’m not giddy with anticipation to see where Prince Akeem ended up thirty years later, I shouldn’t be particularly bummed if it doesn’t live up to the original.  Frankly, the Eddie Murphy from my childhood peaked with Dr. Doolittle as I didn’t see any of his classic movies until I was much older, and it’s only been in the last few years that he’s buckled down and tried to be more discerning with his roles so perhaps this will take to heart the harsh lessons he learned over the last few decades and will actually be something true to the spirit of the original and to the comedy legend that he was at the time!  Yeah okay, I don’t think that’s going to be the case either (especially with them putting a 2 in the title), but let’s find out!!

Prince Akeem Joffer (Eddie Murphy), the soon to be king of Zamunda, has been living the last thirty years in luxury and bliss with his wife Lisa (Shari Headley) and their three daughters (KiKi Layne, Bella Murphy, and Akiley Love) in the beautiful palace that I’m sure is not an opulent eyesore and a constant reminder of wealth inequality in the region!  Surely not when they are being menaced by the neighboring warlord General izzi (Wesley Snipes) who wants his own son to be married to Akeem’s oldest.  After all, the law says No Chicks Allowed and therefore a woman can’t be the leader, so perhaps Akeem’s happy little life is about to get quite complicated.  As luck would have it however, the King (James Earl Jones) has been keeping a secret from Akeem as it turns out he has a son living in Queens that he conceived during his trip there thirty odd years ago.  Must have happened when we weren’t looking I guess.  We were probably all getting more popcorn.  So Akeem, with the help of his loyal aide Semmi (Arsenio Hall) must return to the United States and bring his son back to be groomed as the next Prince and eventual heir to the throne; something that doesn’t sit right with his eldest daughter who was hoping to find a way to ascend to the throne as well as his wife who’s a bit perturbed that he conceived a child about a week before they started dating.  His son Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler) has his own reservations as it’s a pretty sweet deal to be plucked out of obscurity to become a big shot, but being a Prince isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be even if it means the easy life for his mother (Leslie Jones) and his uncle (Tracy Morgan).  Will Prince Akeem be able to ascend to the throne as King with a competent heir by his side, or will the culture shock for Lavelle be too great for him and his family to handle? What will General Izzi do now that his master scheme is about to be unraveled, and will Lavelle suffer the consequences of his newly found father’s machinations?  Or will it be about none of that and everyone will spend most of the movie spouting lines from the first one?

“I’m getting too old for this spit.”     “Wrong movie.  And wrong line.”     “Oh who cares?  It’s a PG-13 sequel; you get what you pay for.”
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Cinema Dispatch: Uncut Gems

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Uncut Gems and all the images you see in this review are owned by A24

Directed by Josh and Benny Safdie

Good Time wasn’t one of my favorite movies of that year by a long shot, but it’s also a movie I keep thinking about even now as the filmmakers clearly made something wildly compelling even if it wasn’t exactly for me.  If nothing else, I was eager to see what they did next as I really believe they can make a movie that’s not just great but one that I’d like as well, which is why when I first heard of this new movie they were making AND that it would be a dramatic turn for Adam Sandler, I knew that this had to be a top priority that I needed to see as soon as it came out!  Okay fine, AFTER Star Wars, but this was locked in for second place!  Do the Safdie Brothers improve on their last film and make a film that’s even better, or was all the potential I saw in Good Time actually the peak of their creative vision?  Let’s find out!!

Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) runs a jewelry store out of New York City where he makes a tidy living selling exquisite trash to those looking for something Gaudy more than Elegant, but most of the money he makes is then funneled into his gambling addiction which means he gets to talk to sports stars, have nice apartments, and live a life of relative comfort, but he’s also in deep with loan sharks (Eric Bogosian, Keith Williams, and Tommy Kominik) who want nothing more than to rip his heart out right out of his chest since that’s about all they’ll get from the guy who can’t stop throwing all his money away on terrible sports bets.  Still, he’s got an ace up his sleeve which is this opal he got straight from a mining company in Ethiopia which he plans to sell at an auction for up to a MILLION dollars.  Seems like he’s got it all sorted out, but of course when you’re a guy whose got as much bad blood as he does, those people who want something from him could easily derail everything in an instant, and Howard himself can’t seem to keep his own behavior under control long enough to get the money and clean the slate; especially when he “loans” the opal to basketball player Kevin Garnett (playing himself) and for whatever reason he can’t be reached and his go between guy (Lakeith Stanfield) is being awfully cagey for some reason.  Can Howard get the opal back in time to sell it and get his life back in order?  What sorts of comeuppance will he have waiting for him the moment he gets the money and what if it comes for him sooner than that?  I mean if he’s THAT deep in the red, can’t he just make Happy Gilmore 2?  Nineties nostalgia is ALL the rage now; tell me that wouldn’t make a hundred million at the box office!

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“Weren’t you Little Nicky?  No, you’re thinking of the other guy.  I think his name was SHUT UP!!”

Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Uncut Gems”