I love it when somebody else does my job for me, don’t you? The work gets done, and I can sit back and have a drink instead of busting my butt over it. Coming 2 America is a nice, good Samaritan of a film that did my job for me, and effectively reviewed itself. See, there’s a scene about two-thirds of the way through, in which two characters are discussing pop culture and one of them bemoans the state of the American film industry. “What do we have besides superhero shit, remakes and sequels to old movies nobody asked for?”, one of them asks. Wonderful, review over, everybody go home.
You what now?
Okay, not really; I do have some standards. Coming 2 America is the 2021 sequel to the 1988 classic Coming to America, and no that title never gets any less confusing. The first film, despite being billed as a comedy, in reality existed in a weird netherspace of genres, lying at the intersection of comedy, romance, and coming-of-age story. The plot involved Akeem Joffer (Eddie Murphy), crown prince of the fictional African nation of Zamunda who, unsatisfied with the princess who has been chosen for him by his father King Jaffe (James Earl Jones), absconds to America with his (mostly) loyal manservant Semmi (Arsenio Hall) in search of a more suitable bride. He lands in the New York borough of Queens and, though fish-out-of-water shenanigans do ensue, the bulk of the film followed Akeem’s attempts to woo Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley), heiress to the McDowell’s fast food empire (pictured below, in its entirety; no it’s not a typo).
Not pictured: a typo
The sequel picks up thirty years later. Akeem, who becomes King of Zamunda early in the film following the death of his father, is facing a political crisis: Zamundan tradition decrees that the country can only be ruled by a man, but Akeem and Lisa only have daughters. Complicating matters is General Izzi (Wesley Snipes), ruler of the neighbouring country of Nexdoria (yes, really) as a military dictator, who would like nothing better than to take control of Zamunda either by marrying his doofus of a son to Akeem’s eldest daughter, Meeka (KiKi Lane), or the old-fashioned way by putting a bullet through Akeem’s head. Fortunately, it is discovered that Akeem actually does have a son, Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler), the result of a drug-induced one night stand early in Akeem’s stay in Queens. Akeem returns to America to retrieve his son and (essentially) trick him into marrying Izzi’s daughter, neatly resolving both of his problems. Clashes of culture and personality ensue, but of course everything eventually works itself out.
I first saw Coming to America only last year, and was struck by two things. The first is that it was a remarkably progressive film, featuring a (nearly) all-black cast with complex characters of varying backgrounds and motivations, and some surprisingly feminist themes; I remember remarking to my SO that if the film had been released today, it would be denounced as liberal propaganda, despite being remarkably and admirably subtle in its messaging. The second thing was that, despite ostensibly being a comedy, the film wasn’t actually very funny, and in fact the times that it tries to be outright comedic are often the weakest parts, especially when either Eddie Murphy or Arsenio Hall are on-screen as characters other than Akeem and Semmi (which happens frequently; each actor plays four roles in the film, and the pacing occasionally slows to a crawl to accommodate them).
Pic very related
Now, it’s not lost on me that I’ve spent about half of this review of Coming 2 America talking about the first movie instead, and maybe it’s unfair to judge a film by its predecessor. In my defence the sequel is literally begging for the comparison, firstly by virtue of being a sequel made over thirty years later, but mostly by being absolutely jam-packed with references and call-backs to the first film, occasionally to the point of distraction. A particularly frustrating scene sees Akeem change into his iconic New Yorker outfit, a New York Mets jacket covered in “I ♥ New York” buttons, with little justification, seemingly only so the camera can linger on it and the filmmakers can say they had it in.
The nadir, however, is a scene about halfway through where two characters literally recount the plot of the first film, in its entirety, complete with several minutes of archive footage. The context of the scene is that Lavelle is complaining that Akeem, who has been tutoring his son in behaving like a prince, is setting unreasonable expectations for his performance. His confidante, royal barber Mirembe (Nomzamo Mbatha), informs him that Akeem wasn’t always such a hard-ass, and recounts “the legend of Prince Akeem” to show Lavelle that he needs to be his own man, and not live in his father’s shadow.
It’s actually a really good scene, and is arguably the emotional center of the film: it’s the turning point for Lavelle’s character arc, which in turn herald’s Akeem’s character growth and the ultimate resolution of the central conflicts. However, the length of the scene is very nearly doubled by extensive use of archive footage from the first film, which shifts focus away from the very immediate emotional journey of these characters and onto events that are well in the past. It does a disservice to the new characters introduced in the sequel to frame their journey in relation to the prior film. There was no narrative reason for it; Coming to America is not a difficult film to summarize, and Akeem’s character journey could have been (and, indeed, was) conveyed adequately through dialogue. If anything it felt like an ad for Amazon Prime Video: “look at this, much better, movie you get with your Prime Video subscription, which you could be watching right now!”
It should be clear at this point that I have a lot to say about both of these films, and especially how they relate to one another, so in the interests of keeping things organized I’m going to resort to the mark of a terrible reviewer: subheadings. Buckle up, folks, it’s going to be a long ride.
I’ve already broadly summarized the plot of both films, but I want to take this moment to ask a simple question: who is the villain of Coming to America? The obvious answer is Darryl (Eriq La Salle), Lisa’s existing boyfriend at the time Akeem meets her. But despite being a massive jerk, Darryl isn’t really a villainous character: he’s no serious threat to Akeem, and it’s clear that his relationship with Lisa was in trouble even before Akeem shows up. It seems like the only reason he’s even still in the picture is because Lisa’s father Cleo (John Amos) likes him.
Okay, so what about Cleo? He’s more of a direct threat to Akeem’s ambitions, since he clearly prefers Darryl as Lisa’s romantic interest (and tries to influence her in that direction), but the climax of the film reveals that he’s just trying to give his daughter a good life. He kicks Darryl, the wealthy heir to a hair product fortune (it was the 80s), out of his house when he learns Akeem is a prince and therefore wealthier, but it’s clear that he would throw that chance away in a heartbeat when Akeem’s father mouths off about her. Although he’s standing against Akeem’s character journey, at least initially, he has nothing against Akeem and has no villainous intent towards him; Akeem’s father, King Jaffe, can be dismissed as a villain for the same reason.
The conclusion I have to come to is that Coming to America doesn’t have a villain, which is fine because it doesn’t really need one. The drama comes from the way the characters emote and relate to each other, how their motivations and desires conflict. There are no villains there, just people, just as there are (very rarely) villains in real life.
Credit where it’s due, there is some of that in Coming 2 America, and those moments are often when the film is strongest, but it all needs to share space with the ever-present threat of General Izzi, who is a wildly unnecessary character. His role seems to be to generate a sense of urgency, since he threatens to attack Zamunda if Lavelle isn’t ready to marry his daughter by some arbitrary deadline, and he makes good on that threat (sort of, he appears to storm the palace with all of five men, which is decidedly not how military coups work) when Lavelle absconds to America with Mirembe instead.
Let’s get the obvious problem out of the way first, which is that this plot in no way required a deadline in order to build tension. There’s some pretty meaty drama already in the numerous character conflicts that arise throughout the movie: Lavelle’s internal conflict about how he fits into Zamundan society, Akeem’s conflict with both Lisa and Meeka over his decision to pass over his vastly more qualified eldest daughter as heir in the name of tradition, the class conflict that arises between Lavelle’s family (especially his abrasive mother Mary, played by Leslie Jones) and Akeem’s, and so on. An external conflict isn’t necessary, and in fact feels mildly insulting: like the filmmakers didn’t trust the audience to be invested without the threat of violence hanging over proceedings.
The other problem with Izzi is that the threat he promises is massively disproportionate to what the film is equipped to handle. To be clear, General Izzi is a post-colonial African warlord, and the film isn’t shy about showing this, despite trying to play it as comedy; one notable scene has him reading a storybook to a bunch of children in fatigues, before letting them loose to play with (his words, not mine) grenades and AK-47s. His stated intent is to kill Akeem’s entire family and rule Zamunda as a dictator. He has the manpower and the firepower, both shown on-screen, to at the very least make a good honest attempt. This is a family comedy about culture clash, we don’t have the machinery to deal with Idi Amin!
Yeah, I chose that comparison for a reason
It’s perhaps fitting, then, that Izzi isn’t dealt with, which is somehow worse. The film ends with Izzi getting nothing he wanted: Lavelle isn’t marrying his daughter, Meeka isn’t marrying his son, and his attempted coup was thwarted by Akeem’s three daughters and Semmi, a senior citizen (seriously, Arsenio Hall is 65 years old). The only thing he does have is a promise of re-opened trade between Zamunda and Nexdoria, which he said earlier in the film that he didn’t want! And he got invited to Lavelle’s wedding! This is not an adequate resolution to his conflict! There is no universe in which he doesn’t come back a week later with an army and makes what happened to the Romanovs look like a little kid’s birthday party.
Then again, the film doesn’t do a good job of communicating what Izzi actually does want, aside from a vague desire to become part of the ruling class of Zamunda, by marriage or by force. But this is symptomatic of a larger problem, which is...
...specifically, that there are too many of them. Part of the reason Coming to America was able to succeed with their character moments is that they didn’t have that many characters to deal with. IMDB lists twenty-six named characters in the original film, and forty in the sequel. And while it’s true that not every one of these characters has significant screentime, in either film, every additional inclusion takes time away from something else. This is especially true of Akeem’s three daughters, who are the center of a minor running joke where the same line of dialogue is repeated three times, to or from each of them; the first spoken lines in the film are “Good morning, mother and father.” “Good morning, Meeka.” “Good morning, mother and father.” “Good morning, Omma.“ “Good morning, mother and father.” “Good morning, Tinashe”. This joke was deemed good enough to repeat.
Seriously! They do this twice!
There’s a related problem where, because the original film has become an icon of African-American culture, the sequel has attracted a lot of talented black performers, and feels the need to do something with them, no matter how tortuous. Meaning that some time is spent on a rivalry between Semmi and Lavelle’s “uncle” Reem, played by Tracy Morgan; and that some time spent on Mary (again, played by Leslie Jones) trying to bond with Lisa; and more than a few expository scenes of questionable necessity are given to a Zamundan news anchor played by Trevor Noah; and we’re treated to a fairly lengthy funeral scene for King Jaffe narrated by Morgan Freeman (as himself); and there are at least three extended musical numbers featuring popular black musicians (and Eddie Murphy’s terrible lounge singer).
All of this padding means that there’s very little room for the main character arcs to breath, which is unfortunate because the film is juggling two of them, both Lavelle’s and Akeem’s related but ultimately distinct journeys. It also means that there’s not enough room to properly flesh out the subplots, leaving it feeling very unearned when all of a sudden, at the end of the film, Semmi and Reem, and Mary and Lisa, are the best of friends. But the most notable casualty is Lavelle and Mirembe’s romantic arc. It’s clearly meant to evoke Akeem and Lisa’s romance from the first film, since there are scenes of the pair connecting emotionally over their shared struggles, and Lavelle ultimately runs off to America to marry her over his arranged bride-to-be. But despite being a major plot-motivating event, kicking off the entire third act of the film, and being the emotional peak of Lavelle’s character arc, it just doesn’t work as well as the original film.
Partly this is because of the compressed timeline I whinged mightily about in the last section, because it forces us to recognize that this “true love” developed over a single week rather than the unspecified time period of the first film. But the bigger problem is that the romance is just one aspect of several plot threads that are being juggled, so there’s not enough room to really develop it. Lavelle and Mirembe share three scenes together before eloping and, though the two actors have chemistry and the script does all it can to play up the similarities between them, that’s just not enough time to establish a believable romance. Another problem is that Mirembe herself is a non-entity: literally all of her scenes are with Lavelle, and she has essentially no character outside of being his barber, advisor, and later love interest. She’s more of a plot device than a character, which is sort of a problem when your romantic arc is the emotional center of the film.
Compare this, as with all things, to the original film. The romance between Akeem and Lisa is the central plot of the film, so it gets most of the second act to itself. The pair spend multiple scenes together, including a few actual dates, over an unspecified period of time that’s probably not very long (there’s snow on the ground for the entire film, so it’s at most about four months), but not having a defined period aids in the suspension of disbelief. Also, and this is important, Lisa is an actual character in the world. She has an arc that we get to watch, she has relationships with characters that exist outside of Akeem’s sphere of influence. She has “character permanence”: we believe that she continues to exist when we’re not looking at her. Mirembe doesn’t have that, which significantly weakens the romantic arc that involves her.
This problem of permanence is actually fairly prevalent throughout the film. In his “Mr. Plinkett” reviews of the Star Wars prequels, Red Letter Media’s Mike Stoklasa proposes a simple test for determining whether a character is, well, actually a character and not a cardboard cutout. The test is this: describe the character without referring to their appearance, job, or role in the story. I’m not going to pretend that this is a definitive guide for evaluating a strong character, but it’s a useful litmus test, so let’s try it out on some characters from Coming to America and its sequel!
First character: feels pressured to conform to familial expectations, especially romantically, and frustrated by not being able to make their own choices. Strong sense of honour and loyalty. A little naive at times, the result of a sheltered upbringing, but tries to see the best in people. Happy to perform tasks well beneath their status, and not afraid of hard work despite growing up in wealth and privilege. I started off writing this about Akeem (in the first film; his character changes somewhat in the sequel), but upon reflection it works pretty well for Lisa too, which is a good narrative choice given their romantic arc.
Next: ambitious, but struggles to meet those ambitions. Frustrated that the circumstances of their birth is the only thing people can see about them. I’ve been staring at these lines for five minutes and this is literally all I can come up with to describe Lavelle, the protagonist of the second film! This isn’t off to a good start!
Let’s keep going. Undeservedly self-confident, but lacking in self-awareness. Low opinion of those in lower socioeconomic classes. Enjoys flashy and expensive status symbols. Romantic, but ultimately controlling and possessive. Expects things to be easy, and helpless when they aren’t. It’s Darryl, Lisa’s existing boyfriend in the first film.
Aggressive, but tries hard to pretend otherwise. Too proud to ask for help when necessary. Getting this one out was like pulling teeth, it was so difficult, but it’s General Izzi.
Okay, last two. Poor sense of personal boundaries, especially sexually. Prone to screaming and shouting, even during normal conversation. Again, this was a challenge, but it’s Mary Junson, Lavelle’s mother! I switched things up on you!
Last one, and then I’m done. Struggled growing up, but have become wealthy and successful. Proud of their children, but don’t want them to struggle the same way, so has a tendency to push them into certain decisions. Used to getting their own way, and a bit self-absorbed as a result, which makes them easy to manipulate but fierce when crossed. Is it Jaffe Joffer or Cleo McDowell? Psych, it’s both!
Is my point made?
I should make two notes up front. First thing is that this section is largely going to be the Political Correctness Hour, which is maybe a bit of a cliche for a film with a majority-black cast, but I have things to say so I’m going for it anyway. Second thing is that I am a straight white guy from a North American upper-middle-class background, making me one of the least qualified people in existence to talk about the things I’m about to talk about. If either of those two statements bother you, you may want to get off here, and no hard feelings for it. But there are aspects of Coming 2 America’s politics that annoyed me, and this has sort of turned into a therapeutic exercise for me, so I’m going to natter on anyway. You have been warned.
So, I mentioned way back in this wall of text that I thought Coming to America had some “liberal propaganda”-esque messages that it communicated very subtly. What I meant by that is that, aside from one scene taking place at a Black Awareness Week event, the film never goes out of its way to broadcast any sort of “political” message; there’s no moment where Eddie Murphy turns to camera and says “We’ve had a lot of fun here today, but racism is no joke.” And yet, the film is very strong in its depiction of black people as complicated and diverse. Some, like Jaffe and Akeem, are world leaders at the pinnacle of their society; Darryl is a trust fund douche; Cleo is a self-made middle-class man and social climber; Lisa is a smart girl trapped in the family business; her sister is a gold-digger; the barbershop characters (played mostly by Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall, with Clint Smith rounding them out) are friendly but occasionally crude working-class joes; and then there are some eccentrics, criminals, and probable-criminals-who-haven't-been-caught-yet (I’m thinking Arsenio Hall’s sleazy preacher here) to round things out.
Not every character is a good person, and some have stereotypical elements, but there’s a wide array of backgrounds and personality types on display that accurately reflects the diversity of backgrounds and personality types present in actual society. The characters feel genuine and flawed, and don’t generally (there are exceptions) swing too far into either overly-positive or overly-negative racial stereotypes. At the same time, there are clear elements of many characters that make them uniquely black, or that work better because they’re black, such that the film would be less effective with an all-white cast. Darryl is a pretty good example of this, being the heir to a hair product company that specifically targets curly (read: black) hair. Cleo is another, where his social climber tendencies and desire to provide a better life for his children make sense in the context of a middle-class small business owner, but are given another layer of meaning by being a black small business owner in the 1980s. All in all there’s a lot of strongly positive depictions of black characters.
Again, there are exceptions
Similarly, though less dramatically, the film has strong pro-woman messaging. The film’s female characters also run the gamut of socioeconomic levels, with Akeem’s mother Queen Aoleon (Madge Sinclair) on top, bag ladies and prostitutes on the bottom, and Lisa and her sister (among others) sprinkled throughout. The film doesn’t make a big deal about this either, it’s just a fact of life that there are women at every level of society, just as in real life. More interestingly, though, the film’s plot is resolved entirely by women. Everything up to the last five minutes is the result of the male characters bumbling around failing to communicate with each other, and then stubbornly refusing to compromise when they finally do communicate. Without the female characters present, the film would end with Akeem returning to Zamunda and marrying his arranged bride. We get a happy ending because Aoleon exists as a character, and is valued enough by her husband as a person to convince him that he’s being an ass. This is a pretty good message, supporting and normalizing the idea of both women as people and women as valued contributors to society, but again doesn’t say it explicitly.
Coming 2 America, on the other hand, is all about being explicit. The film desperately wants to have pro-black and pro-woman themes, but the attempt is undermined by the confluence of two factors. The first, and much easier to discuss, is how nakedly overt the film is in its politics. On the pro-racism side, Lavelle gives a speech early in the film where he chastises his white interviewer, who’s very clearly trying to make a diversity hire, pointing out how hard he has to work to succeed as a black person in America, and how nobody takes him seriously because he grew up poor. Mirembe gets a similar moment later in the film when she says that Zamundan women are forbidden from owning businesses, and Meeka gets a third towards the end where she bemoans that Zamundan patriarchal tradition means she can’t rule the country, despite being far more qualified than her half-brother.
None of these are bad messages, let me be clear about that. Lavelle is entirely correct in his denunciation of white America, Mirembe is correct that it’s nonsense to forbid women from starting business (even the Ferengi figured that out, eventually), and Meeka is justifiably bitter that her father needed to bring Lavelle to the country to satisfy a backwards tradition. I have no problem with the content of the messaging. But the fact that the film felt the need to turn to camera to deliver these aesops so explicitly is, on its own, slightly insulting. “How will the people know we’re not racist?” I can imagine some Paramount executive saying, “Sure we have a majority-black cast, and we could take the effort to write strong, complex characters. Or we could have them explain to the audience how not-racist we are, and call it an early lunch!”
But although it’s insulting, on its own it doesn’t bother me that much; it’s a bit cringe, but tolerable. The reason it’s a problem is that every other decision in the film does its best to undermine these good messages. As my SO remarked after we finished watching the sequel, it’s almost impressive that a film released in 2021 managed to be more racist and sexist than one released in 1988. Despite Lavelle giving a speech straight out of a Black Lives Matter pamphlet, the film contains no black character even remotely as complex or interesting as its predecessor; the returning characters have been reduced to caricatures of the first film, and the newly-introduced characters are all either shrieking ghetto stereotypes (Mary, Reem, etc.), gun-toting African militia stereotypes (Izzi and his crew), or automatons (the Zamundans). And despite professing that girls can do anything a boy can do, the female characters in the film have next to no agency or contribution to the progression of the plot; Mirembe is the catalyst for Lavelle to reject Akeem’s influence, but she’s entirely passive throughout and changes her desires and motivations (such as they are) from scene-to-scene depending on the needs of the plot, and Akeem’s daughters accomplish nothing aside from technically defeating General Izzi, even though Semmi does most of the work.
There’s only one occasion in the film where a female character contributes meaningfully to the plot or character arcs, and it’s when Lisa finally calls Akeem on passing over Meeka as his heir. He responds poorly, with some very Jaffe-sounding crap about how he’s the king and should be obeyed, at which point Lida takes a page from the Big Book of 90s Stand-Up Comedy Cliches and kicks him out of their bedroom. I don’t mind this scene so much, even though it’s a bit cliche, but it’s retroactively ruined by the next scene, in which Akeem is approached by Cleo, his father-in-law, who asks him what Queen Aoleon would have thought of his decision to force Lavelle onto the throne. This scene with Cleo is frustrating for a number of reasons, not least that it’s kind of clunkily-written, but it also dramatically undermines the film’s attempt to be pro-women by very literally stripping the film’s female characters of their voices. It seems like they’re trying to call back to the original film, where Aoleon is the one to convince Jaffe to allow the marriage, but putting her words in Cleo’s mouth is the wrong way to go about it. There’s no real reason to have Cleo be a part of this character moment, except that the studio and/or the writers wanted more Cleo in the film and this was the only place they could think to put him. This is not how you write good female characters!
Again, this on its own would be annoying, but so common in film that it wouldn’t be worth pointing out. The reason I’m so frustrated is that the film wants desperately to have it both ways: it wants to be seen as progressive, but doesn’t want to put in any actual effort to be progressive. It evokes the modern social media trend (which isn’t actually uniquely modern, but that’s a whole other essay) of “performative wokeness”; that is, as long as I very loudly say the right things, what I actually do doesn’t matter.
Or, to use another metaphor, I recently watched Superstore on Netflix, because Pandemic Life has been hard, okay? There’s an episode in season five where (for complicated plot reasons) the main characters are running a charity drive on the same day that the Salvation Army is standing at the front door asking for donations. About midway through, when the two campaigns are attempting to run side-by-side, one of the employees is trying to convince a customer to donate, but he’s resistant because he already donated to the Salvation Army, posted to social media about how he donated, and “it would be weird to post twice in one day.” That he could donate and not post about it is a concept that he proves incapable of understanding. That, in essence, is Coming 2 America.
So, full disclosure, I’ve been working on this piece for almost two weeks now, and it’s approaching 5000 words. I have more to say, but I need to wrap this up, so let’s do a quick-fire round. Put an imaginary amount of time on the clock, and let’s go!
- One of the few things about Coming 2 America that I liked were the explorations of how New York has changed since the late 80s. There’s a great joke in the climax where Akeem flags down a Lyft driver in Queens, thinking it’s a taxi, and has it explained to him that he can’t just hop in, he needs to ask for a ride through the app. It would have been nice to have more of these sorts of moments
- The repeated flashbacks to clips from the original film does the sequel no favours by highlighting the digital colour correction being used. This isn’t a new trend, every major film does it these days, but it’s impossible not to notice when the flashback clips have natural colouring and the rest of the film is Maximum Orange
- The fact that Lavelle exists at all is a plot hole in the first film, which shows Akeem and Semmi returning to their apartment, alone, after the night it apparently happened. The sequel retcons this by revealing that Akeem was drugged (he thought Mary was offering him a cigarette, which was actually a joint), and remembered the evening as him being mauled by a wild boar. So...that’s sexual assault, right? That was a choice
- I suppose I’m obligated to mention the costume work by Ruth Carter, who previously won an Oscar (and a laundry list of other awards) for her work on Black Panther. The costumes are indeed excellent, one of the few places the film surpasses its predecessor (compare King Jaffe’s crown, for instance), even if I still think it’s tonally odd to put a military dictator in a bedazzled uniform
- It’s interesting to me that this film was rated PG-13, when its predecessor was rated R. Unlike a lot of examples of this trope, where an old movie is toned down for its much-later sequel (such as the Terminator franchise), the sequel didn’t feel substantially sanitized; it was noticeably more prudish about nudity (to the point that one of the Royal Bathers is noticeably wearing a body stocking in one scene), but there’s enough crudeness in later scenes to make up for it. This isn’t really a criticism, just an observation of how social mores have changed in thirty years
- Speaking of Royal Bathers, another small thing undermining the film's attempt at progressive messaging is that they stripped all the personality out of the Zamundan servants, and replaced it with nothing. I mean, it's very weird that Prince Akeem is bathed by hot naked women, and it's extremely weird that his father expected him to be sleeping with them, but they had visual identity; they reacted to things happening around them, like, y'know, people do. In the sequel, they might as well be robots, which is not better, and they don't even acknowledge how messed up the tradition is
Coming 2 America is not a good movie. The thing is, it’s also not a bad movie; it’s just mediocre, which is the worst thing it possibly could be. I don’t think anyone could reasonably have expected it to live up to its predecessor, but it falls short in such fascinatingly specific ways that, in the words of my SO, it failed to live up to even my low expectations. I can imagine worse ways to spend two hours of your life, especially if (like me) you’re still living under pandemic restrictions, but put this one way, way down on the list of things to watch.