Coming 2 America (2021)

"Prepare the royal jet. We are going back to America.""Prepare the royal jet. We are going back to America."

“Prepare the royal jet. We are going back to America.”

It’s been roughly 32 years since the release of the classic comedy Coming to America that stars Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall in the main roles. With studios looking to capitalize on more classic intellectual property it was only a matter of time before talks of a sequel would make their voices heard. Eddie Murphy making his comeback in films makes this possibility a reality. We’ve seen it recently, Bad Boys for Life finally released after a prolonged absence, but the difference is the fans have publicly campaigned for the third installment for that film to be made, me included.

That being said, Coming to America is a classic in every sense of the word but is a sequel absolutely necessary? It may be more difficult to answer since a lot of the fans would argue yes while some will argue that the first is a perfect standalone story that shouldn’t be revisited. In this case I lean toward the latter especially revisiting something three decades after the first one came out. Sequels rarely work or provide more substance than what the first gave us. Just like with Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues – the sequel adds nothing new that we can’t just get from the first one.

The good thing about releasing a sequel our favorite characters return with the original actors/actresses. If anyone else were to portray Prince now King Akeem (Eddie Murphy) or Semmi (Arsenio Hall) the negativity from the fanbase would be relentless (just look what happened with Sonic). Akeem and Lisa (Shari Headley) have only been able to have three girls while the heir to the throne must be a male. King Akeem learns that he has a bastard son living in America that he goes to convince him to take the throne of the great nation of Zamunda. Catching up with these characters breathes a bit of life into the film but the biggest question of all is answered in the first few minutes – will McDowell’s set up shop in Zamunda? Will the good people of the man eating lion nation get to eat at the golden Arc’s? The answer is yes with Cleo McDowell (John Amos) running the joint.

“Oh, shut up, Semmi! You don’t have to suck up to me anymore. I’ll be dead soon. Why couldn’t it be you, Semmi?”

What it all boils down to is Coming 2 America is almost scene for scene, shot for shot and a lot less funny, exactly the same film than its predecessor Coming to America. A newfound prince, this time Akeems retconned bastard son Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler) is set to marry a princess from another African nation where she is the same robotic woman that Akeem was set to marry in the first. Akeem wanted more than a wife who didn’t have goals and dreams and Lavelle wants that too. Where Eddie Murphy shined as Prince Akeem, Jermaine’s Lavelle fails to capture that same sweet naive nature that makes Akeem so lovable. In the end, his love story doesn’t give us the butterflies that Akeem and Lisa gave us.

Coming 2 America relies too heavily on the success of Coming to America. Even the titles can feel misleading and ultimately confusing when trying to explain them. With a lot of talent behind the scenes with retuning writers David Sheffield and Barry Blaustein and director Craig Brewer (Dolomite is My Name) was putting out basically the same movie the only good idea with a few new characters? Everything is either a callback joke from the first or a flashback scene from the first film leading us to believe there was no solid idea on expanding this universe in an original manner (Samuel L. Jackson returning probably didn’t fit in their budget). 

Where Coming 2 America drops the ball completely is in its rating. Having the PG-13 rating this second time around rather than the R rating restricts the level of comedy that can be done and that was expected. One of the funniest lines from the first film is when Akeem goes out on the balcony after waking up and yells F*** you too to the person who told him the same. The royal penis cannot be said aloud, only hinted at, it’s a shame. Naming the film Coming 2 America is questionable at best, in total 15 minutes of the film is spent in America – but to be fair, a lot is questionable about this film.

“I may not have been thinking straight. In my defense, it had been weeks since the last time I was tended to by the royal bathers. But at the time, it seemed like a good plan.”

Coming to America is filled with incredible amounts of charm and spirit that this second film lacks. Too many new characters are introduced that don’t have an ounce of purpose mainly Uncle Reem (Tracy Morgan). His character adds nothing to the overall story and the same argument can be said about Mary Junson (Leslie Jones). Coming 2 America even fails at being self-aware that revisiting stories 30 years later doesn’t work, maybe they should take their own advice. 

Where Coming 2 America’s strength lies is in its new Zamunda characters. Hailing from Nexdoria the leader General Izzi (Wesley Snipes) and Akeem & Lisa’s daughters princesses Meeka (Kiki Layne), Omma (Bella Murphy), and Tinashe (Akiley Love). These girls steal scenes with their presences and add some semblance of heart to the long-awaited sequel. Also, Nextdoria, really, what a lazy name when compared to Zamunda. Snipes’ character has a few screws loose and is way too over the top – far removed from society and Snipes goes beyond expectation making this role his own and crushes it.

It’s not a Coming to America sequel if the barbers, Reverend Brown and Randy Watson (all played by Eddie and Arsenio) don’t show up. But the strange thing with these favorites is that they haven’t aged a day in 30 years. Comedy wise, these characters have the strongest laughs which serve their purpose in their return. 

Costume design is crucial for films featured in an African setting. The best thing above all else about Coming 2 America is the costume design by Ruth E. Carter who also is the costume designer of Black Panther. At first glance the inspiration of Black Panther smacks you right in the face – each garment is beautiful and authentic that best represents the culture and heritage. Just like with Black Panther you can’t look away from each costume – the patterns, the fabric are too hypnotizing to want focus on the actual movie.  

Coming 2 America is a disappointment in most aspects. The few new characters along with Eddie’s Akeem and Arsenio’s Semmi among other characters and the costume and set design are the clear standouts of the sequel. Everything else feels unoriginal and uninspired. Coming 2 America is shockingly not funny and lacks any of the charm and spirit the first film has. If I were to rate Coming 2 America, I’d rate it a 1.5 out of 5.

So, tell me guys, have you seen Coming 2 America and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think. 

Coming 2 America is directed by Craig Brewer is Rated PG-13 and has an 51% on Rotten Tomatoes. Coming 2 America was released on March 5, 2021 and has a runtime of 1 hour and 50 minutes. Coming 2 America can be streamed on Amazon Prime.

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