By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
It has been almost thirty three years since the Eddie Murphy movie Coming to America opened in theaters and became a comedy classic. Since then the movie has nearly constantly earned a mass of devoted fans who often repeat some of the more quotable lines and shared many laughs over the raucuous jokes and gags. The film is definitely a product of its time, as some of the more racy comedy probably could not be created today in our current climate. Any attempts at a sequel would have to be somewhat toned down and would most certainly lack the edginess that director John Landis and the film’s other creative minds brought to it.
Nevertheless, director Craig Brewer (Dolemite is My Name), and writers Kenya Barris, Barry Blaustein, David Sheffield, and Justin Kanew teamed up with Eddie Murphy and most of the same cast members, along with some new collaborators to create a second installment. As expected, the movie doesn’t have the same level of edgy comedy as the first installment, but does deliver some mildly enjoyable humor in a movie that more or less feels like a reunion show. It is a movie that definitlely feels like a straight-to-television sequel that doesn’t quite live up to the legend of its predecessor.
Eddie Murphy returns as the beloved and charming Prince Akeem Joffer, heir to the throne of Zamunda. Since the events of the first movie, Akeem and his wife Lisa Joffer have remained married and are raising three strong and intelligent daughters. While this pleases both Akeem and Lisa, the strict tradition of Zamunda demands that Akeem’s heir be a male. Initially, this poses a threat to the future of the country.
Without a “proper” leader to take the throne after Akeem’s demise, the ambitious dictator of rival nation Nextdoria, General Izzi (Wesley Snipes), has his eyes on the prize. Not all hope is lost, however, as Akeem discovers that he might have an illegitmate son in America who may have been conceived during his first visit there. Akeem and his faithful assistant Semmi (Arsenio Hall) must return to America to discover the truth about his potential heir.
Despite this movie’s lack of bite and the same level of heart that makes the first film so great, I still found myself enjoying this movie. It is a sequel that heavily relies on the nostalgia of the original movie, and often does so too much. Still, I found myself laughing at some of the movie’s new gags, new characters, and even appreciated that this installment actually critiques some of the less favorable material of the first movie.
While it is enjoyable to see Murphy and Hall reprise their lead characters, it is also great to see them once again portray the more cartoonish and outlandish supporting characters such as the barbers, Reverend Brown, and of course Queen’s not-so-beloved singer Randy Watson. It is also a joy to see actors Shari Headley, James Earl Jones, Paul Bates, John Amos, and others return to their beloved characters. Joining the returning cast members are Wesley Snipes, Lavelle Johnson, Leslie Jones, and Tracey Morgan. All of whom seem to have a blast with their characters.
As I mentioned above, Coming 2 America comes across as a lesser sequel that got spared a theatrical release and has gone straight to television. So I suppose it is perfectly appropriate that the movie did not get a theatrical release and will be available for streaming via Amazon Prime. It is a film I moderately recommend for fans of the original, but I must encourage these fans to greatly temper their expectations. The movie is now available for one’s nostalgic enjoyment on Amazon Prime.