Eddie Murphy reunites with his Dolemite Is My Name director Craig Brewer in Amazon Studios Coming 2 America. One of the most anticipated comedy films of the year, Coming 2 America picks up three decades after the original. When we last saw Prince Akeem, he had just married his dream girl Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley). Thirty years later, Akeem and Lisa are raising three daughters and have just celebrated a wedding anniversary. Sadly, King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) is nearing death and informs Akeem that he has a long-lost son in Queens named Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler). While the King loves his granddaughters, Zamunda law states that a male heir must take the throne.
Wanting to honor his dying father’s last wish, Akeem and his trusted confidante Semmi (Arsenio Hall) embark on a trip back to America. They hope to bring Lavelle back to take over the throne. Lavelle’s mom Mary (Leslie Jones), and crazy uncle Reem (Tracy Morgan) are also tagging along. Meanwhile, General Izzie (Wesley Snipes) has an older score to settle with Akeem and sees this as the perfect opportunity.
Released in the summer of 1988, Coming To America is a comedy classic and a culturally iconic film. Thirty-three years later, the sequel arrives, and I’m sure the question on everyone’s mind is it too late? One of the first things I want to point out is comedy is subjective, and what one person finds funny, the next may not. That acknowledged, returning writers from the first film David Sheffield and Barry Blaustein, and new addition Kenya Barris have crafted an enjoyable comedy.
The script’s angle for Akeem and the relationship with his son’s mother is believable and actually surprised me since I didn’t think it would go that route. I loved all of the organic callbacks to the first film done organically. This includes cameos from Cleo McDowell (John Amos), Maurice (Louie Anderson), and of course, the motley barbershop crew. There are also numerous little surprises which I won’t spoil, but the fans will love.
Craig Brewer has a great eye and great relationship with Eddie. He keeps the film moving along to a quick pace and I would love to see the two reunite for a third project. Coming 2 America does have a 2021 vibe to it. The film touches on female empowerment, cultural norms and briefly cancel culture. I loved that the film started in Zamunda and showed Akeem as a family man raising three beautiful and confident black women.
Fresh off her appearance in The Old Guard, KiKi Layne was a joy as Princess Meeka Joffe, Akeem’s oldest daughter. While her arc isn’t as strong as her long-lost brother’s Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler), Layne continues to impress. Jermaine Fowler has impressed me in supporting roles for years, so kudos to the casting department for using an unknown as Akeem’s long-lost son. Wesley Snipes is also a hoot as General Izzie and he really should dabble in comedy more.
Similar to the first film, Eddie allows the entire cast to shine and have a moment. Numerous characters in the movie made me chuckle or crack a smile with their dialogue. If possible, I would urge audiences to avoid trailers and YouTube clips, so some of the jokes aren’t spoiled when you finally watch the film. If I had one complaint about the film, it would be the underwriting of Akeem’s and Lisa’s daughters and mention of two characters. I also never cared for the title. Nevertheless, the laughs more than make up for it.
Featuring great cameos, homages to the first film, and most of all, heart, Coming 2 America never tries to top the first film. I can admit that I was apprehensive that the sequel had a PG-13 rating meant no F-Bombs. Then I realized Eddie Murphy isn’t the same comic he was in 1988, so I can’t expect the same comedy style in 2021. During the time of COVID, we all need laughter in our lives. Lo Tsu said it best “As soon as you have made a thought, laugh at it.” That said, there are enough moments in Coming 2 America that I can think about days later and laugh.
Final Grade: B
Coming 2 America is streaming on Amazon Prime video now
P.S. Please make sure to watch through all of the credits.