On Amazon Prime Video.
It’s been 32 years since Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and his confidant Semmi (Arsenio Hall) headed to Queens in New York to help the Prince find “his Queen”.
We now find Akeem, Lisa, their daughters and her wider family all living in the Royal palace in Zamunda. There are concerns for both the health of King Jaffe Jofar (James Earl Jones) and, as Akeem does not have a son, a coming constitutional problem. However, the Prince discovers that indeed there was some Royal Oats sewn in Queens and he has an illegitimate son and heir. Akeem and Semmi head to America once again to find him (Jermaine Fowler’s Lavelle) and bring him back to Zamunda, to maintain Zamundan tradition and arrange a marriage with daughter of neighbouring country Netxdoria’s (yes really!) leader, General Izzi, (Wesley Snipes) and avoid a potential conflict.
I headed into this uneeded sequel, Directed by Craig Brewer and penned by Murphy, with pretty low expectations. How do you take what was a fine 80’s comedy which mixed its story of empowerment and the need for change, with joyous gags built around Murphy’s film career and nods to James Earl Jones’s most famous screen creation and do something fresh and interesting?
It seems you don’t! The story is a mess and seems to forget about what made the original endearing, throwing out strong female characters with Shari Headley’s Lisa and Kiki Layne as Meeka particularly under used, as are much of the returning cast.
It’s not a disaster and there are things to enjoy. The first 20 minutes are fun, as is the time we get to spend with those returning characters, the boys in the barber shop, Cleo and his Zamundan McDowells restaurant and some self referential gags and an ending scene that scored some goodwill points.
But there isn’t enough of that and the Eliza Doolittle esque new story isn’t that interesting or well done.
Performances are patchy and some of the characters are almost unrecognisable, Murphy is strangely listless as the Prince, although he and Hall recreate many of the supporting characters with all their original fun.
Ultimately it feels like a missed opportunity, for those who enjoyed the original there is probably enough here to entertain, for those who have never seen it, to be honest I’d probably give this a miss and watch the original instead.