33 years later, Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall return to Zamunda

33 years later, Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall return to Zamunda. - @NBCBLK

3/3/2021 11:12:00 PM

33 years later, Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall return to Zamunda. - NBCBLK

“This is the only movie I’ve ever done that had a cult following,” Murphy said.

Quantrell D. Colbert / Paramount PicturesMarch 3, 2021, 4:26 PM UTCByThe Associated PressWhen Eddie Murphy made the original “Coming to America,” he was, almost indisputably, the funniest man in America.Murphy was at the very height of his fame, coming off “Beverly Hills Cop II” and the stand-up special “Raw.” They were heady times. Arsenio Hall, Murphy’s longtime friend and co-star in “Coming to America,” remembers them sneaking out during the shoot to a Hollywood nightclub while still dressed as Prince Akeem and his loyal aide Semmi. “We were insane,” says Hall.

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The ’80s, Murphy says, are “all a blur.”“I was so young, all this stuff was happening. You take everything for granted when you’re young, how successful I was,” Murphy says, speaking by Zoom with a shelf of award statuettes behind him. “Now I take nothing for granted and appreciate everything.”

Thirty-three years after “Coming to America,” Murphy and Hall have returned to Zamunda. The sequel, originally planned to hit theaters last year, was sold due of the pandemic by Paramount Pictures to Amazon,where it will begin streaming Friday.It’s an unlikely coda to a blockbuster comedy, one that belongs so completely to the late ’80s that even the sequel tries to keep some of that era’s spirit. (A few notable R&B and hip-hop groups make cameos.) “Coming 2 America,” directed by Craig Brewer, reverses the fish-out-water plot to bring Queens to Zamunda after Akeem learns he fathered a son (Jermaine Fowler) on his first visit to New York. headtopics.com

Some elements have been updated. There’s a plot of female empowerment; KiKi Layne plays Akeem’s daughter. At the barbershop, where Murphy and Hall also reprise their characters, the conversation bounces from Teslas to transgender people.“We had a draft where they had on MAGA hats and they were Republicans,” says Murphy. “It was funny but it was like, eh, let’s not even go there.”

Instead, Murphy and his collaborators — including writers Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield and Kenya Barris — felt the core appeal of “Coming to America” lies in its fairy tale premise.Eddie Murphy stars in COMING 2 AMERICACourtesy of Amazon Studios

“This is the only movie I’ve ever done that had a cult following,” says Murphy. “We had totally forgot about ‘Coming to America.’ Then this movie took on this life in the culture. It became like a cult movie. Lines from the movie became catchphrases. People do the mic drop now. The very first mic drop is Randy Watson from ‘Coming to America.’”

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