When you hear that a movie like the 1988 comedy sensation, ‘Coming to America,’ is getting a sequel, you manage your expectations. Do that here and you’ll enjoy yourself.
With what we’ve all gone through in the last year, a good comedy is just what the doctor ordered. I keep saying that because it’s true. Laughter is the exact thing we need to do to get us through the rest of this pandemic. Eddie Murphy saw a country in need, surveilled the situation and decided to help his fellow man in need and got to work. With writers Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield and Kenya Barris, Murphy got to work and brought us this comedy, ‘Coming 2 America.’
In the first movie, Directed by John Landis, Murphy played Prince Akeem, who moves to Queens, New York, with his aid Semmi (Arsenio Hall), looking for someone to love. He hoped to find what was true rather than be forced to marry someone chosen by his father, King Jaffee Joffer (James Earl Jones).
One could argue that the new movie feels too familiar, maybe makes an attempt at being a remake instead, as it follows some of the same storylines and has similar themes, but there’s more going on in director Craig Brewer’s ‘Coming 2 America’ than young love. It shows us, in one way or another, that the bond between a father and his son can be firm, whether they’ve previously had a strong connection or not. Akeem has learned a lot, yet he has always only been the son. Now, can he be the father he has always wanted to be, or is he doomed to repeat the same mistakes of his?
Murphy is absolutely terrific here and is almost reason enough to give this your time; Hall as well. And the cameo appearances are wonderful. If you hear otherwise, ignore that chatter. I would have preferred to see more of Leslie Jones because her character was insanely funny in her desire to be as crass as possible, but working alongside these comic legends, it’s my belief that she holds her own. Where she comes into play is what the story is really all about. Using clips from the 1988 film, we find out that while Akeem and Semmi are out looking for love, they go back to the apartment of one, Mary Junson, who gets knocked up in the process. Leslie Jones is that Mary Junson.
Akeem is about to become the new King. He and his queen, Lisa (Shari Headley), have three daughters, the eldest of which has dedicated her entire life in preparation to be the next heir to the throne.
Enter General Izzy, played spectacularly by Wesley Snipes. Izzy, who Murphy was originally going to add to his plethora of roles before it went to Snipes, in essence, teases Akeem for not having a male heir. It is a sign of weakness and Izzy will eventually attack if his daughter remains Akeem’s heir. Before the king passes away, he imparts to Akeem that he has a bastard son in America. King Jaffee insists this is the male heir the throne needs, so General Izzy does not take them down.
Seeing he is between a rock and a hard place, Akeem concludes that the best thing to do for his people is to keep the tradition alive and make his son the next in line. This causes a lot of tension within the family, but he has to do what he has to do.
So, he grabs his private jet and he and Semmi go back 2 America to find Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler). Once Lavelle is brought to the homeland, he is treated the same way that Akeem was treated by his father. Akeem has become king, but he rules by the same old traditions he despised. Has he learned nothing? Lisa sets out to remind him of who he once was and what he believed in.
As comedies often do, the movie covers many important subjects while making you giggle. It gets heavy into gentrification and women’s rights but still has several women running around with practically nothing on, turning them into merely sexual objects. If they wanted to make a point about women being equal, that’s a miss. But there aren’t a lot of misses. This was made to entertain you, to make you laugh, and to walk away from this horrid virus for a little while. Be assured, ‘Coming 2 America’ truly will improve your mood. Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall, and the outrageous characters they introduced to us thirty years ago, Randy Watson and the guys in the Barbershop especially, will not disappoint you as long as you, again, go in remembering this is not, nor can it be, the first film.
Coming 2 America
Directed by Craig Brewer
Screenplay by Kenya Barris and Barry W. Blaustein & David Sheffield
Story by Barry W. Blaustein & David Sheffield and Justin Kanew
Based on characters created by Eddie Murphy
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, KiKi Layne, Shari Headley, with Wesley Snipes and James Earl Jones. Also starring John Amos, Teyana Taylor, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Paul Bates, Nomzamo Mbatha, Bella Murphy
Produced by Kevin Misher and Eddie Murphy
Run Time: 1h 50min
*Produced by Kevin Misher and Eddie Murphy