Let’s celebrate like 1989. Much like 2020 Bill & Ted face the music arrived in a cultural boom with Keanu Reeves, Coming 2 America, the sequel to the 1980s comedy classic Come to America, follows Eddie Murphy’s triumphant turn Dolemite is my name. The feel-good mood of a recent hit permeates the comedian’s return as African Crown Prince Akeem. His beaming smile reconnects with Arsenio Hall, John Amos, Louie Anderson, the McDonald’s knockoff McDowell’s and the charming imitations of the cast, while new faces are added. 30 years after Prince Akeem and his aide Semmi (Hall) first traveled to Queens, New York to find Akeem as a bride, he and his wife Lisa (Shari Headley) now have three warrior daughters: Princess Tinashe (Akiley Love ), Omma (Bella Murphy) and her eldest, Meeka (KiKi Layne). For a while they had a “happy to the end” ending.
But Akeem’s father, King Jaffe (James Earl Jones), is now dying and he fears that Akeem may be too weak a leader to ascend to the throne. Since no grandson can rule in the future, the royal line hangs precariously in the balance. Still, there is hope: during a drug addict night in Queens 30 years ago, before meeting Lisa, Akeem met a woman (Leslie Jones, who relied on her usual SNL shtick) and unwittingly fathered a child with her. The older, less independent Akeem now has to venture back to America with Semmi so that they can bring back his son Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler) and save their kingdom of Zamunda.
Craig Brewer, who previously ran Murphy Dolemite is my nameFashion Coming 2 America into a narrative thin and silly nostalgia journey that appeases older fans with a story that is as much about rediscovering existing roots as planting new ones.
The screenplay, written by Kenya and Barris Mad professor Screenwriters Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield rarely create laughing moments unless King Jaffe decides to attend his own funeral. In a film that relies primarily on random cameos rather than rigorously crafted jokes – a strategy that quickly beats your greeting – the funeral scene hits on every level. Ruth E. Carter’s regal Afro-Futuristic costumes are stunning. The recalls are measured. Murphy and Hall spark their onscreen friendship into an endearing effect. 1980s throwback artists En Vogue and Salt-N-Pepa perform for Jaffe. A fancy guest appearance by Morgan Freeman kills comedically. And Jones and Murphy share a touching scene that is apologetic to the heart.
Unfortunately, the later beats struggle to reach the same highs. As in Come to America, Murphy, and Hall play additional characters while dressed up in heavy dentures, makeup, and thick suits. These include the staff at the barbershop, the deceitful preacher Reverend Brown and the deaf-mute singer Randy Watson with a new addition to the roster: Hall as the grotesque witch doctor Baba. Baba is a plot device that tells Akeem that he has a “bastard son” who lives in Queens. Unlike the other imitations that seemed to joke to mock the stereotypes of the queens black community, Baba doesn’t share the same lovable origins. As a gross other whose only punch line is to chop up slime, he’s a cheap character, and his price tag often shows it off.
The best addition to the cast is a game of Wesley Snipes as General Izzi, the eccentric unscrupulous leader of the country of Nextdoria. In contrast to Zamunda, an opulent kingdom untouched by colonialism, Nextdoria shows the signs of a nation clearly affected by civil war and strife. Take General Izzi, who is dismissing a group of schoolchildren – one child is called C4, the others are playing with grenades. The juxtaposition between the two states makes for a slight giggle, but is completely too shallow. The subject of the cultural and wealth gap between African nations seems too difficult to be a comedy. But when you consider how important the dream of an African regal rule ruled by exotic traditions colored the previous film, and how Brewer and Company open the door for such an examination in the sequel, it feels like a missed opportunity to combine a carefree story with tangible historical roots.
That’s the irony for a narrative that deals so deeply with the way old roots can blossom into new faces. Hoping that his bastard son will marry General Izzi’s seductive daughter Bopoto (Teyana Taylor), Akeem and Semmi return to Queens to take Lavelle and his mother to Zamunda, where they receive an icy welcome from Lisa and the rest of the royal family receive. Meeka looks down particularly on the intruders – she has trained her entire life to ascend the throne but cannot because of a Zamunda law that forbids women to rule.
The undeserved shine that Lavelle receives from Akeem also comes to the actors. Between Layne and Fowler, Layne is clearly the stronger presence. Not just their combat training done The old guard appear when she wields a stick, the camera loves them. She pops any frame in a series of gorgeous, colorful costumes. The vulnerability in which she set out
And as Lavelle, Fowler makes a mild lead. Take the trials he faces as he passes a series of princely trials or the love affair that develops between Lavelle and his royal groomer Mirembe (Nomzamo Mbatha). None of these storylines carry much weight, as Fowler’s heroic and romantic moods add up to zero. The comedy, instead, is most powerful when Lavelle is used to uncover Akeem’s journey.
This is a goofy dad movie in every way, but it sharply shows how we embrace the worst qualities of our parents as we get older. The once independent prince, who traveled to America out of love despite his father’s protests, has gone institutionally conservative, routinely bowing to Zamunda’s sexist laws, and disappointing both Meeka and his wife Lisa (who, thankfully, has so much more personality in the film than in the original Come to America). A mature Murphy in some ways makes the audience feel as if Akeem’s quest for soul reflects Murphy’s quest. That feeling is probably based on our familiarity with his career. We’ve seen Murphy go from a young comedian with childish, resounding humor to an adored performer and actor. We know the ups and downs of his career at the box office. We know he’s back, and we know he seems especially happy here.
Akeem rediscovers who he once was, the fearless prince, and warms this sequel. Murphy’s charm, his close chemistry with Hall, Snipes’ sly demeanor, and the sumptuous costumes elevate this nostalgia trip. Coming 2 America could easily have been a disaster, and viewers who expect it to get the same laughs as its predecessor will be deeply disappointed. However, it is worth approaching this more family-friendly comedy as a family reunion. People who loved the original will likely find their affection for these familiar characters again. brewer Coming 2 America is never a waste: it’s familiar and good and an emotionally good story. And that’s enough for this return to Zamunda.
Coming 2 America Premiere on Amazon Prime Video on March 5th and is available for rent on Amazon, Vuduand other digital platforms.