Bold, big, brash, funny and full of nostalgia. While the highly-anticipated and long-awaited sequel to the Eddie Murphy cult classic, Coming to America, that starred him as Zumandian African Prince Akeem. Quite or not quite cleverly titled, Coming 2 America. Is nowhere near as classic and great as the original. It definitely tries to be just as big and at times even bigger than the original. As evident from the big party full of who’s who cameos of legendary and iconic Hip-Hop, R&B and movie stars that make cameos as themselves (and I wouldn’t name to not spoil it) from almost the very beginning of the film in the fictional African kingdom of Zamunda. When James Earl Jones, who returns briefly as Prince Akeem’s father, King Jaffe Joffer. Practically on his death bed. Requests for Akeem to throw him a huge party to celebrate his life before he dies. Rather than waiting till after he dies. The big costumes and outlandishly colorful outfits that were designed by Oscars-award winning costume designer, Ruth E. Carter. As big a part of the movie. That is as much musical costume party extravaganza and almost Bollywood-like production as it is a movie. That is even deserving of Carter possibly winning another Oscar.
Just like the original version of the film. It features both Murphy, and fellow comedy legend, Arsenio Hall. Returning to their iconic roles of Prince Akeem, who ends up becoming king and Akeem’s best friend and aide, Semmi. Also returning from the original cast is Shari Headley, as Lisa, who’s now Akeem’s wife, Queen Lisa. Paul Bates as longtime royal servant, Oha, John Amos as Lisa’s father and now father-in-law to Akeem, Cleo McDowell, Louie Anderson as Maurice, and Vanessa Bell Calloway as Akeem’s originally intended and arranged bride in the original film, Imani Izzi.
Though it may not be nearly as great as the original. It is still for the most part pretty enjoyable and a great rom-com that is full of plenty of laughs that will make you smile. Even if a lot of the jokes are quite quirky and even at times cringe-worthy. Like a training/fight sequence towards the beginning of the film between Prince Akeem and his three daughters, Princess Meeka, Princess Omma and Princess Tinashe. Who are played by KiKi Layne, Murphy’s actual 19-year-old daughter, Bella and Akiley Love. Who jokingly make a remark about stuff being, “On fleek.” As if to appease to most of the newer generation that most likely are too young to have ever seen the original film.
While a lot of things are obviously different some 30-plus years from the original films timeline. There’s still a lot of stuff unchanged. Such as the outdated and sexist traditions. That there can only be a male heir to the throne or even that there still be arranged marriages. Which Akeem, who opposed such a thing when he was younger and fled to America to find Lisa as his bride in Queens, New York. Is now juggling with himself. Just as his father did. That allows for Wesley Snipes, who brilliantly plays tyrannical leader of Zamunda neighboring country Nextdoria, General Izzi. To come in. It also allows for us to find out in the very early parts of the film from King Jaffe Joffer and his witchdoctor, Baba (who is hilariously played by Arsenio Hall) that Akeem has a bastard’s son. That nobody knew about from their first trip to America. So now Akeem and Semmi must go back to America and Queens to find this son, Lavelle Johnson. Who is played by talented comedian and actor, Jermaine Fowler. Who most might remember from previous films, Sorry to Bother You and more recently, Judas and the Black Messiah. This also allows for us to meet Lavelle’s mother, Mary. As well as his Uncle Reem. Who are played by brilliant comedians, Leslie Jones and Tracy Morgan. Really giving an excuse for these two great comedians to be a part of an already hilariously great ensemble cast. With both flat-out funny throughout much of the film.
Coming 2 America really could’ve been branded as, Coming to Zamunda. As after Lavelle and Mary, as well as eventually even, Uncle Reem. Come to Zamunda and even before that. Much of the bulk of the film takes place in the fictional African kingdom. Where Lavelle undergoes the rigorous and even at times ridiculously funny vetting process it takes to become prince. That also upsets King Akeem’s family and especially in particular his eldest daughter, Princess Meeka. Who time and time again before Lavelle arrived showed her father the brilliant fighting skills, bravery, intelligence and compassion to one day rule Zamunda.
Somewhat similar to the journey his father went through in the first film. Lavelle also goes through a compelling and complicated journey as he learns what it’s like to be legibly African and on his way to becoming a prince. As he navigates his Blackness in a new and vibrant manner, as well as environment of what he’s regularly used to. That also allows for Lavelle despite first agreeing to an arranged marriage with General Izzi’s astoundingly hot, yet socially conditioned daughter, Bopoto. Who’s played by Teyana Taylor. To realize like Akeem before him, he really finds his own true love somewhere else unexpected. In his royal Zamundan groomer, Mirembe. Who’s played by beautifully amazing African actress, Nomzamo Mbatha. A secret breakout star of the film, who stole my heart and I’m sure will steal many others hearts with the beauty, wit, charisma, charm and heart she shows. In so beautifully playing the role of Mirembe. A breakout performance that should get her several roles after this and I can see getting plenty of more movie roles for years to come. Almost the same can also be said of former Chicago stage star, Layne, who is really quite magnificent as the kickass warrior-princess like eldest daughter, Princess Meeka. That King Akeem eventually rightfully changes the rules of succession for.
So while this sequel is not nearly great or as classic as the original. Coming 2 America is still a celebration of the Black and African pride legacy of the original. That from the very vibrant soundtrack of Afrobeats, R&B and Rap. To the beautifully sweeping nature shots and very high-energy dance sequences and parties galore. Shows how far American’s more positive and celebrated light of Africa has come since the original film. Which was one of the first to do so. Also showing that even despite many cringe-worthy and even at times to many over the top moments that weren’t necessarily needed. This is still a film that will give most fans. Whether fans of the original or not. Plenty of laughs, smiles and a goofy good time that most of us could use right now. With one of the only downsides being how much more spectacular a lot of the big dance musical like numbers. That had those very big and colorfully vibrant costumes would’ve popped. As well as looked way better on an actual movie theater screen. Rather than watching it on Amazon Prime. Overall though despite a lot of mishaps, this is a sequel that you could still enjoy and watch several times. That’s more family friendly than the original. Which was more risqué and obviously had way more adult themed humor. That made it so classic.
If you watch it from the perspective of trying to not compare it to the first one. Which was obviously going to be hard to top or even match from the get-go. Then you will definitely enjoy it and as I already mentioned get plenty of laughs. Especially with the ensemble cast of comedians that there’s. That’s an almost, who’s who of past and present great comedians. You can see why as Hall has mentioned in previous interviews about the film that a lot of times the cast had a hard time compassing that laughter and themselves in between takes. Not to mention Hall also recently revealing that a lot of the cast had planned to do a comedy tour together in support of the film. Before those plans were obviously axed like a lot of things these days by this stupid virus and pandemic we have all been dealing with for the last year-plus. Another reason why this is such a light-hearted, funny and enjoyable film we could all use right now.