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Coming 2 America poster

Coming 2 America

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What it’s about:

The sequel to the iconic 1988 hit Coming to America, Akeem (Eddie Murphy) — now King of Zamunda — travels back to Queens to find the son he unknowingly fathered 30 years before.

Names you might know:

The original cast is back with some fresh new stars. Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, Wesley Snipes, Shari Headley, Jermaine Fowler, and Clint Smith are joined by Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, John Amos, Louie Anderson, Colin Jost, and Trevor Noah. Morgan Freeman, En Vogue, Gladys Knight and Salt N Pepa play themselves. Directed by Craig Brewer (Dolemite is My Name), written by Barry W. Blaustein (Coming to America), Kenya Barris (Black-ish, Girls Trip) and David Sheffield (The Nutty Professor).

Why it’s worth your time:

Honestly, it’s much more of an homage than a sequel, bringing back the greatest hits of the original movie, but it’s laugh-out-loud funny. Zamunda is still a beautiful African country with overly obedient servants. Although less of them are topless, because, you know, 2021. Akeem is still the optimistic, cheerful man he was back then, and still married to Lisa, with three beautiful daughters. That turns out to be one of his few problems—the throne can only be passed down to a male heir. That becomes both less—and more—of an issue when Akeem’s dying father King Jaffee and his best friend Semmi (James Earl Jones and Arsenio Hall, reprising their original roles) tell Akeem that he fathered a son when he was in Queens.

Once Akeem and Semmi get back to America, things move pretty quickly. The two revisit the My-T-Sharp barber shop, where Clarence, Morris, Sweets, and Saul (played once again by Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Clint Smith, and, uh, Eddie Murphy) are still holding court. They tell Akeem that he can find his son Lavelle, played by Jermaine Fowler, scalping tickets at Madison Square Garden. Lavelle and his mother Mary, played loud and brash by Leslie Jones, hop on Akeem’s gold jet back to Zamunda, and from that point, it’s a fish-out-of-water story as Lavelle learns how to be a Prince. Lisa is annoyed by Mary, especially when she starts to steal dresses from the Queen’s closet (how Mary is fitting into them, I could not tell you), while Akeem’s oldest daughter Meeka, played by Kiki Layne, is angry that this outsider is taking her rightful place as her father’s heir.

In the meantime, the flamboyant General Izzi, in a scene-stealing performance by Wesley Snipes, arrives from the bordering country of Nextdoria (no, seriously) to threaten Akeem with war if Lavelle does not marry his daughter Bopato, played by Teyana Taylor. She’s really hot, so Lavelle is all over that in the beginning. But true love awaits him elsewhere. Will he be as strong and brave as his father was 30 years ago and make his own choices? Will Akeem throw away centuries of tradition and move his country into the 21st century?

All the actors are obviously having a great time in Coming 2 America, and I appreciated that. Brewer’s directorial style almost matches John Landis’ in the original, enough for it to work, but it does occasionally veer into a Will Ferrell-level of goofiness. Coming To America is one of my all time favorite movies, and Murphy and Hall’s ability to portray so many different characters so well still amazes me. All the returning actors are so, so good, and it’s great to see them again. If there is a weak link, it’s Fowler as Lavelle, who isn’t quite at everyone else’s level. But it’s hard to hold focus when you’re sharing the screen with Eddie Murphy and Leslie Jones.

There is not one serious take to be had during this movie, so please don’t bother looking for one. It’s meant to be a lighthearted tale, where extravagant dance numbers and costumes abound. Yes, this is another show, like Bridgerton and Wonder Woman 1984 that glosses over some tricky sexual consent issues—”You know I was ho in these streets,” Mary concedes, as her family nods in agreement. Okay … then? And, uh, not only can women not inherit the throne, they aren’t allowed to own businesses in Zamunda? Huh? Happily, all ends well, more or less.

The takeaway:

A wildly fun, all-star sequel to the 1988 comedy classic, Coming 2 America brings back the greatest hits of the original movie and throws in Leslie Jones, Louie Anderson, Colin Jost, and Trevor Noah, among many others. Is it as good as the original?  Of course note!  But it delivers just enough nostalgia and hilarious new lines and situations to be worth the watch.

Watch it with:

A great watch with your parents or the older generations who will remember the first. But if you haven’t seen the original, you probably won’t understand this one. Luckily, Coming To America is on Prime Video too. Movie Marathon time!

Worth noting:

Eddie Murphy’s daughter Bella makes her movie debut in Coming 2 America. She plays Akeem’s second daughter, Omma, and she gets the pleasure of kicking her father’s butt in one scene!

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