‘Coming 2 America’: 2021’s Best Costume Design

The most important thing for a belated comedy sequel to get right is the vibe. The recent Bill and Ted 3, also got this right. These films understand if your movie feels like it belongs, less of a burden will be on the the laughter. Eddie Murphy is long past having to prove himself and he brings that winning vibe to this film. Coming 2 America may not be too funny, but its classical fun and nostalgic like a large wedding party. Its 1988 predecessor had a unique premise and a sincere Eddie Murphy performance. 33 years later he’s back with the same cast, a greater ensemble and his Dolemite is My Name director Craig Brewer.

It’s a classic late comedy premise. The main character has a child they did not know of and travel to somewhere in America to unite them with destiny. A good sign of the times is that more women participate in the plot. Murphy’s Prince Akeem along with his wife Lisa have three daughters. Leslie Jones plays mother Mary who had a questionable night with Akeem. Jermaine Fowler plays their son Lavelle. Most of the plot concerns his grooming. He is set to marry to General Izzy (Wesley Snipes)’s daughter (played by Teyana Taylor) Bopoto. Bopoto (in costumes designed by Oscar winner Ruth E. Carter) is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen so the movie ranks low on conflict. But most comedies do anyways. It is disappointing to me she only has two scenes. One gag involves her ability to listen during conversation without temptation to inject her own thoughts. An ability men in the film find weird that I struggle with and envy.

Costume Designer Ruth E. Carter

The majority of the plot is friendly familial conflict. Even Snipes’ character at his most combative has a forgivable playfulness needed in these times. As for the rest of the film’s place there’s a few old-fashioned bits about it. You can tell the all male creative team is middle-aged. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. The movie has perspective. The musical features for one give it away. The writing also lacks interest in developing its abundant female roles which is typical for that demographic. Still the movie gets a pass for its celebratory tone. A film that Paramount dumped on Amazon’s lap and during the COVID film drought makes it a worthy. Did I mention the costumes were fantastic? If Black Panther only won the Oscar for its exoticism, this makes up for it with opulence and originality. The film were it only for its clothing style is a pleasure to look at.

I am quite satisfied with this film. I was not one of the critics who judged the original as some distinguished comedy classic. The filmmakers themselves appreciate it with a large quantity of callbacks. If you can judge the film on a celebratory basis of team values and a family (similar to Dolemite) it is an effective way to kill two hours.


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