‘Coming 2 America’ Actually Goes to Zamunda for the Most Part

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Coming 2 America (CREDIT: Quantrell D. Colbert/Paramount Pictures)

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Jermaine Fowler, Arsenio Hall, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, Kiki Layne, Shari Headley, Wesley Snipes, Teyana Taylor, James Earl Jones, Bella Murphy, Akiley Love, Paul Bates, John Amos, Louie Anderson, Luenell, Colin Jost, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Paul Bates, Nomzamo Mbatha

Director: Craig Brewer

Running Time: 110 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Occasionally Crude Silliness and a Drunken Sex Flashback

Release Date: March 5, 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)

So the big question we must all ourselves is: does Coming 2 America make me want to come 2 America? Well, I’m already in America, and have spent the vast majority of my life in this country, but I have to believe that there’s a difference between “coming to” and “coming 2,” because otherwise why even make this 30-plus-years-later sequel? Maybe in this case, “2” means the opposite of “to,” considering that this time around, Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy, happy to be surrounded by friends) and company actually spend more time in Zamunda than they do in the U.S. of A. With that in mind, maybe “America” is a state of mind more than just a physical place. Looking back at Queens in 1988, that was a magical place for Akeem, despite its rough-and-tumble exterior. It’s where he found his queen, and it can now be seen as the wellspring of his own family, and in the sequel, it’s been elevated to the level of myth with the recreation of special Queens landmarks in Zamunda (in particular, the McDonald’s-knockoff McDowell’s). Is that feeling of home just as strong in 2021?

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Movie Review: ‘What Men Want’ Mines Humor, But Not Much Else, From Its Gender-Flipped Premise

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CREDIT: Paramount Pictures

Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Aldis Hodge, Tracy Morgan, Josh Brener, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Tamala Jones, Phoebe Robinson, Max Greenfield, Jason Jones, Kellan Lutz, Brian Bosworth, Chris Witaske, Erykah Badu

Director: Adam Shankman

Running Time: 117 Minutes

Rating: R for Aggressive Sex, Alpha Dog Profanity, and Bachelorette Party Drug Imbibing

Release Date: February 8, 2019

The ability to read minds is a rich comic premise. That holds true even when it is done in the service of outdated ideas about gender differences, or in service of a more enlightened view of gender differences, which perhaps demonstrates that any grand statement on this topic is quite possibly a folly. While saying “men are like this, but women are like THIS” can easily be a problematic minefield, as long as you show the distance between what characters say and what they leave unsaid, the formula for laughs is there. What Men Want does not screw that formula up, at least not completely. But does it offer anything more than raucous unintentional confessionals?

I have not seen What Women Want, but from what I know about it, it cannot be so easily pinned as too reliant on stereotypes or a deconstruction of said stereotypes. The same is true of What Men Went. Taraji P. Henson plays Ali Davis, a sports agent who can match her male colleagues in alpha dog aggressiveness, but she is struggling to make partner at her agency, and it is clear that that is because of assumptions of what women can or should do in a professional setting. Frankly, she does not need to read minds to know that, as she is already a decent judge of character anyway. Ultimately, her newfound ability is little more than a parlor trick. What she really needs to be able to get over the humps in her personal and professional lives is to fully listen to what the people who truly care about her are saying, which is not the same thing as hearing their thoughts.

That is a valuable lesson, but also fairly pedestrian considering the unusual circumstances. What Men Want is not fundamentally obvious, but it does feel like a bit of a wasted opportunity, because its premise is not really essential to its conclusion. Luckily, these types of movies are often reliable for memorable side characters, and we have got some delightfully kooky ones here. In particular, Tracy Morgan more or less plays himself as the father of a top NBA prospect, spouting claims like how Abraham Lincoln was “part Eskimo” and Richard Nixon “shot and ate a panda.” And then there is Erykah Badu as a self-made psychic/weed dealer, gloriously mystical and loopy as ever.

What Men Want is Recommended If You Like: Taraji P. Henson Upgrading Average Material, Tracy Morgan Running His Mouth, Erykah Badu at her zaniest

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Head Konks

SNL October 17, 2015 Recap: Tracy Morgan/Demi Lovato

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SNL: Demi Lovato, Tracy Morgan, Kenan Thompson (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

This review was originally posted on Starpulse in October 2015.

A little over a year after emerging from a terrible car accident that nearly killed him, Tracy Morgan called up his “co-Obi-Wan Kenobi” Lorne Michaels (whom he loves like his daddy) to let him know that he wanted to come home as soon as he got on his feet. There was legitimate concern that he would have trouble making it through the grind of the whole 90 minutes, or if he could even walk on his own. He acknowledges in his monologue that his mental capacity may not be at 100%, but the truth is, it never has been. This is perhaps the biggest and most successful comeback story in “SNL” history, as the returns of Tracy’s most beloved characters, the show really hitting its stride with its election cycle material, and gratifying trips into the bizarre make for the best episode of the season thus far.

Democratic Presidential Debate – Seven years ago, an emergent political figure bore a striking resemblance to an “SNL” cast member. Tina Fey was no longer on the show, but it still felt inevitable that she would play Sarah Palin. This cycle’s doppelganger did not promise quite the same certainty, as Bernie Sanders’ “SNL” alum twin has a much more contentious history with the show. But sometimes, you just gotta focus on the comedy, with Larry David’s excellent cameo as the Vermont senator perhaps unwittingly committing him to at least a year’s worth of guest appearances. The shoe certainly fits, as Bernie’s propensity to spout percentages and esoteric facts sounds a lot like dialogue from “Seinfeld” or “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Elsewhere, Kate McKinnon continues her superstar turn as Hillary, with her debate version relating to millenials with accuracy but also insanity. And those other guys are a mix of barely present, just happy to be there, and (Alec Baldwin-portrayed) delusional. A-

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