Coming 2 America

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

A long-awaited (OK, probably not that long-awaited) sequel to Eddie Murphy's 1988 Coming To America. Whoa, it's been that long? Over thirty years?

But he's still funny. As host, he provided Saturday Night Live with its best episode last season. (And managed to remind everyone that SNL isn't really that funny any more.)

The premise is that King Akeem (Eddie) discovers he has a biological son, caused by a one-nighter with Mary Junson (Leslie Jones!) back on his previous visit to Queens. And it just so happens that Akeem's needs a male heir. (His marriage to Lisa having only provided daughters. Lovely, smart, funny daughters, but still.) There's a tribal rival, General Izzi (Wesley Snipes), who poses a threat to Akeem's peaceful and prosperous kingdom otherwise.

So (see the title) it's back to Queens to retrieve the young man. Who's OK with all the fabulous riches and power, but not so much with fitting into the royal expectations.

It's all silly fluff, drags a bit in the middle, but overall a lot of fun. Arsenio Hall is also back as Akeem's buddy Semmi. And, like the previous movie, they don a lot of makeup to play hilarious other roles. Besides Eddie and Arsenio, there are a lot of additional returnees from the 1988 movie: Shari Headley, James Earl Jones, … IMDB lists 25 overlaps between the two.

Also: Morgan Freeman. Gladys Knight. Tracy Morgan. John Amos. How can you say no?

The Rhythm Section

[1.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Yeesh. Didn't care for it at all. Should have believed the mediocre IMDB rating.

Blake Lively plays Stephanie, who loses all her family in a plane crash which turns out to have been a terrorist bombing. That turns her into a drug-abusing whore. When it's revealed to her that the bomber is alive, she tries to shoot him, but loses her nerve. And that brings her to Jude Law, who recruits her to assume the identity of a dead female assassin…

Oh well, it gets pretty convoluted. It's all dark and gritty, and manages to make the beautiful Blake Lively unattractive nearly all the way through. It's another entry in the crowded "thriller with a deadly female protagonist" sub-genre. And it was a box-office bomb. Maybe this will signal the movie-making moguls that replacing James Bond with a girl is a mistake? (In fairness, Barbara Broccoli has seemed to say there's no danger of that.)

URLs du Jour

2021-03-13

[Amazon Link]

  • Peter Suderman contributes to our "Unsurprising News" Department: Biden’s Coronavirus Relief Plan Will Probably Cost a Lot More Than $1.9 Trillion.

    Looked at one way, the American Rescue Plan, President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion economic intervention, is just another pricey COVID-19 bill in a series of them—another one-time injection of funds into an economy in crisis. Biden has repeatedly agreed that the plan is fundamentally about quick, emergency relief, an in-the-moment, temporary measure to beat back the pandemic and get the economy going.

    Over the long term, however, it's likely to be much more than that—more expensive and more permanent than the headline figures make it sound. And it portends an even greater expansion of federal power to come.

    Click over for the deets. But the bottom line is that the main point of "relief" is to make an ever-increasing share of citizens dependent on Uncle Stupid. Efforts to derail even the "temporary" subsidies will be resisted by Democrats down the road. ("How dare you take away peoples' health care!")


  • And the bad legislation just keeps coming. The NR editors describe the PRO Act: Democrats’ Labor Union Giveaway Bill An Anti Worker Nightmare.

    The Biden administration is committed to applying the freshest thinking of the 1930s to contemporary challenges, while congressional Democrats are keen on mandating that all 50 states adopt what is worst and most destructive in California practice. These two tendencies come together in the PRO Act.

    The PRO Act, which already has been passed by the House, is being sold as a measure to make it easier for American workers to join labor unions. What it is, in fact, is a measure that would make it much harder for workers to stay out of unions when they want to, by overriding state right-to-work laws and adopting California’s so-called ABC test to treat certain independent contractors as employees.

    Both New Hampshire Congresscritters voted in favor of the PRO act because of course they did. (All but one House Democrat voted aye.)


  • Jonah Goldberg asks the important question: Is It Really Too Hard for Comedians to Joke About Joe Biden?.

    There’s a difference between saying something can’t be done and recognizing that you can’t do it. For instance, I can’t run a marathon—at least not without some profound lifestyle changes. But that doesn’t mean marathons can’t be run. Happens all the time, just not by me.

    Likewise, when you hear people say it’s impossible to make fun of Joe Biden, what they’re really saying is that they can’t (or won’t) do it, or that they don’t want anyone else to try.

    Until recently, people mocked “ol’ Joe” routinely, including yours truly. In the Senate, an institution famous for its long-winded blowhards, Sen. Biden stood out from the crowd. His mouth was like a car with iffy brakes and a detached steering wheel. He’d start asking a question, and 15 minutes later he’d be in a treetop wondering how he got there. He abused the word “literally” so much, if there was a lexicological equivalent of child services, it would revoke custody.

    Jonah leaves little doubt that the lack of Biden-mockery is a simple double standard.

    The only silver lining is that Saturday Night Live may actually get funnier, on net. Their anti-Trump "humor" was never that funny.

    Supplemental reading: Christian Toto's Big Tech Censors Conservative Comedians.


  • Matt Taibbi notes The Sovietization of the American Press. That doesn't sound good.

    Reality in Soviet news was 100% binary, with all people either heroes or villains, and the villains all in league with one another (an SR was no better than a fascist or a “Right-Trotskyite Bandit,” a kind of proto-horseshoe theory). Other ideas were not represented, except to be attacked and deconstructed. Also, since anything good was all good, politicians were not described as people at all but paragons of limitless virtue — 95% of most issues of Pravda or Izvestia were just names of party leaders surrounded by lists of applause-words, like “glittering,” “full-hearted,” “wise,” “mighty,” “courageous,” “in complete moral-political union with the people,” etc.

    Some of the headlines in the U.S. press lately sound suspiciously like this kind of work:

    — Biden stimulus showers money on Americans, sharply cutting poverty

    — Champion of the middle class comes to the aid of the poor

    — Biden's historic victory for America

    I googled all those: they're owned by the WaPo, the New York Times, and CNN. At least the CNN one is marked as "Opinion". Not so the first two.

    Maybe Jonah's article above could have been titled "The Sovietization of American Comedy".


  • The WIRED headline on Steven Levy's article made me wince: Tim Wu and Lina Khan Can Finally Put Their Antitrust Theories to Work.

    When I attended a 2019 Facebook policy workshop designed to gauge attitudes as it built its oversight board, I was surprised to see Tim Wu among the participants. I understood that Facebook wanted to draw from a range of people for this outside focus group of academics, lawyers, nonprofit execs, and journalists, including those who were not necessarily Mark Zuckerberg fans. But Wu was a super foe. A law professor and attorney who consulted for the FTC about a decade ago—and reportedly pushed the agency for action against dominant businesses—Wu has been a prominent voice urging us to regard big tech companies like Facebook as monopolies, and to curb them. Almost as if to prove that Facebook had welcomed a fox in this wonky henhouse, Wu took me aside after the event and asked if I could share any juicy details I’d found about how the company had acquired Instagram and WhatsApp. (I told him to wait for the book.) Some weeks later, I visited him at his apartment, where he showed me the slide show he was using to convince federal and state attorneys to charge Facebook with illegal monopolization. Indeed, last December, 47 states and the Federal Trade Commission filed the lawsuit.

    Lina Khan, nominated for an FTC commissioner position, is also a dedicated foe of "Big Four" Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Levy points out (unintentionally) how political this is:

    Maybe at one time, the Big Four would have been able to wield enough clout to block these two appointments. But for the past few years, the quartet’s lobbyists have increasingly tilted right. I can’t count the times I’ve chatted with communications and policy people at Facebook and learned that they worked with Romney or McCain or Bush or some random Republican congress critter. That strategy doesn’t seem so brilliant now that the White House, the FTC, the DOJ, and both houses of Congress are controlled by Democrats. “A lot of companies built their Washington offices around Trump in 2017, and they will need to make personnel adjustments for Democratic control in 2021,” says Nu Wexler, a policy consultant who has worked for Facebook and Google.

    This is, of course, the opposite of how the rule of law is supposed to work: having clear and unambiguous lines drawn so that firms know ahead of time how to avoid breaking the rules.

    See above: I don't see "Big Tech" as sin-free. But I strongly suspect that whatever results from application of the Wu/Khan "antitrust theories" will be worse.