March 5th, 2021
MOVIE: COMING 2 AMERICA
STARRING: EDDIE MURPHY, ARSENIO HALL, WESLEY SNIPES, KIKI LAYNE, JERMAINE FOWLER, NOMZAMO MBATHA
DIRECTED BY: CRAIG BREWER
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
In Coming 2 America, I witnessed something I had never seen happen in a movie before. During the credits, we get the sometimes hilarious, sometimes pathetic, rolling of outtakes that make the audience laugh one more time before exiting the theater. With this long awaited sequel I was shocked to see that even the outtakes didn’t make me laugh. Not a single one. Not a break from Eddie Murphy or an added expletive when an actor screws up. Nothing. Crickets. And that’s where I knew I just wasn’t a fan of Coming 2 America. It has been 33-years since the prince of Zamunda, Prince Akeem (Murphy) landed in Queens, New York and the love and laughter that audiences got from John Landis’ 1988 classic was powerful. Coming to America is a quotable movie. The type of film you talk about with friends and recite nearly every line and laugh as if you were watching it again. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the new sequel Coming 2 America. Director Craig Brewer has gathered the entire cast from the original (with a few new faces and some old faces left out), but instead of feeling incredibly fresh and funny, this time things are glossy and lame. Coming 2 America is a sad money grab, relying on the nostalgia to be passed off as comedy. I wanted the next installment into the journeys of Prince Akeem as much as the next person, but I think it would be better if we had just left the laughter back in 1988.
The writing feels serviceable enough to start, things catch up with Akeem back in Zamunda, living in the royal palace with lovely wife Lisa (Shari Headley) and three daughters Meeka (Kiki Layne), Omma (Bella Murphy), and Tinashe (Akiley Love). As king Jaffe Jofer (James Earl Jones) lays on his deathbed, the fear arrives that Akeem has not had a son to rightfully take the throne. It’s revealed to Akeem by his trusty servant-friend Semi (Arsenio Hall) that back when they were living in New York, Akeem had met a woman at a nightclub named Mary Junson (Leslie Jones), and through a drug induced, murky memory, he slept with her, now 30-years later, he has a son named Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler). The narrative is a reverse of the first Coming to America, now with Lavelle bringing the entire family to Africa, falling in love with the beautiful Mirembi (Nomzamo Mbatha), and he must learn the ways of his people to rightfully have a place next to his father in Zamunda.
As we have seen in the past, it’s incredibly hard for a sequel to be made many years after the first installment has become a classic to audiences. It happened with Anchorman 2, it happened with Dumb and Dumber To, and now it is happening with Coming 2 America. Director Craig Brewer clearly had the large scale budget, bringing a full cast of characters, including Murphy and Arsenio reprising their roles as various characters, including Randy Watson, the reverend Brown, and the barbershop boys, looking a bit older, but still cracking their jokes. Although it is delightful to see these characters back and references to McDowell’s, a cameo by Louie Anderson, and the woman that Akeem had hop on one foot and bark like a dog, nothing about Coming 2 America is fresh. Every inch of it, from the cast, to flashbacks to the original, to the storyline is an attempt to recapture what was great about the first installment.
That’s not to say I didn’t find parts of Coming 2 America fun. This is undoubtedly a film that is celebrating everything and everyone involved. Murphy and Arsenio are enjoying their chance to revive these characters. Wesley Snipes’ performance as the military General Izzi is arguably the best part, being a constant thorn in Akeem’s side, and playing a character similar to his work in Dolemite Is My Name. The major part that deserves praise is Ruth E. Carter’s gorgeous costumes, delightful moments of song, and bright choreographed dancing. The production of Coming 2 America is top notch, it’s just not exactly giving us a reason why it needed to happen.
I want to go back and watch Coming 2 America again, maybe my views the second time around will be more positive. For now, it all fell flat for me. Jokes without the edge, characters relaying on nostalgia more than substance, and not enough Eddie Murphy. For this being a movie with one of Hollywood and comedies greatest, there’s oddly not enough focus on him to bring the laughs. Maybe he was focused on too many other characters, long sits in the makeup chair, or the pressure of getting a Coming to America sequel just right. I just didn’t find Coming 2 America to be that funny, making it one disappointing trip back to Zamunda.
COMING 2 AMERICA PREMIERES MARCH 5TH, 2021 ON AMAZON PRIME
Written by: Leo Brady