A sequel is in the heir.
Coming 2 America is a 2021 comedy film directed by Craig Brewer, written by Kenya Barris, Barry W. Blaustein, and David Sheffield, produced by Paramount Pictures, New Republic Pictures, Eddie Murphy Productions, and Misher Films, and distributed by Amazon Studios. The film stars Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall. It was nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. This is the second film in the Coming to America series. It was preceded by Coming to America.
"You are the heir to the throne." -Prince Akeem
30 years after Coming to America, Akeem returns to Queens to locate his son who he has never met and the rightful heir to the throne of Zamunda. When they return to Zamunda, Akeem puts his son through a series of tests to see whether he is fit for to be prince. All the while, the maniacal General Izzi plots a vicious assassination attempt against Akeem unless his daughter can marry Akeem's son.
This film does not live up to the original Coming to America.
But it does still have its moments. There are a few really fabulous lines and sequences that make you crack up. The barbershop scenes, while not as fresh, still do have a fun affect. And it is definitely nice to return to Zamunda and get more of Akeem, Semmi, and all of the other characters that have grown in popularity since 1988.
Eddie Murphy still is able to be a great Akeem. There is a meaner side that we didn't see conveyed in then original, so that was an interesting new taste. I enjoyed the supporting cast. Obviously you've got great talents with Leslie Jones, Wesley Snipes, and Tracy Morgan, but there are also a bunch of cameos from other great actors and celebrities that I appreciated.
And this film definitely is what you expect it to be. What most people expected, me included, was a crappy rehash of the first film with all of the callbacks and repeated jokes. Which is exactly what this movie is. And if you expected that, you can have a good enough time with it. The movie knows what it is, it even makes fun of itself at one point, so if you're expectations were low, you were at least entertained by the film.
This film is bigger in scale than the original. The budget is clearly flaunted with bigger sets, more exotic costumes, and these crazy musical and dance numbers that are actually pretty enjoyable. The makeup, costumes, hairstyles all have a really unique aesthetic that I truly loved. It's a pleasant film to look at for all of its color combinations and fabulous costumes.
The choreography for the dancing and action is actually surprisingly great. There are multiple huge dance numbers that outmatch the first film, and a really fun payoff action sequence that has some very cool combat techniques. I don't know who the stunt coordinators and choreographers for the movie were, but they did a spectacular job.
You can definitely tell that the movie was more focused on the fan service and references than plot and good filmmaking. Because that is the weak aspect of the movie.
First off, I don't really like the fan service that much. The return of all the characters from the first film, like the barbers, the reverend, Randy Watson, etc. are all really, really shoehorned into the movie. Yes, it is fun to see them back on screen after 30 years, but it also doesn't feel earned. I would've maybe liked it more if Murphy and Hall played different crazy characters.
They copy some scenes from the first film shot by shot and line by line. It's almost nauseating how much of the original fills up the runtime of Coming 2 America. There's even a couple points in the movie where they recap the events of the first film. There is a whole five minutes dedicated to reminding the audience of what happened when Akeem visited America for the first time. That was easily the stupidest part of the movie.
And the tone of this movie is just all over the place. There are times where it seems like scenes should be serious, but they sometimes break tension with a joke. There are times when scenes are meant to be sentimental and one of the characters does something ridiculous that is supposed to be funny. There's a really dark plot line involving the General that is meant to be played for laughs. It's a really strange mix of tonal ideas that didn't work.
Unfortunately, they decided to follow Akeem's son for most of the movie. And I did not like him. I didn't like the actor or the character, which infuriated me, because he likely has the most screen time. They sideline Akeem for his son and have his son suck up the runtime, redoing the fish-out-of-water comedy in Zamunda instead of in America. I wish they had spent more time with Eddie Murphy on this one. The film would've been a lot more enjoyable.
And the plot of this movie is an utter disaster. There are tons of revolving plot lines that go in all sorts of places. I won't get into specifics, but the rising action that begins the events of the film is not thought out at all. The motivation for Akeem to go find his son is dreadful. As I stated before, the makers of this film wanted to pay homage to the first film instead of create a good sequel.
As such, the movie is painfully predictable. Since this film follows the exact structure of the original, you know everything that is going to happen. The film follows a defined template that is ludicrous. If you really stop to think about what you are watching, it can be a little bit irritating.
The film also does not give me a good reason for its existence. Why make a sequel? This isn't really even a sequel. Half of the scenes are directly from the first film. I'm going to use an example: Let's say you are a baker. You bake some cupcakes, and they come out half-baked. Instead of putting them into the oven for longer, you dump bucketloads of frosting that you knew people liked from your last batch of cupcakes on top of it. That's what Coming 2 America is.
Is It Worth It?
I'd say if you were a huge fan of the first one and dial down expectations a good bit, then you will enjoy this movie. If you didn't like the first one, this is not for you.
It's a fun time, but maybe not one that you will ever watch again.
Overall, Coming 2 America is a fun enough watch that isn't really anything that I'd want to see again. If I want to visit Zamunda, I'm watching the original.
I will give it a Sour rating. Age range is 10+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
"Coming 2 America"
Fun Factor: 7.5/10
Directed by Craig Brewer
Rated PG-13 for sexual content, language, minor violence and action, thematic elements
Released on March 5, 2021
1 hour and 50 minutes
Eddie Murphy as Prince Akeem Joffer, Clarence, Saul, Randy Watson
Arsenio Hall as Semmi, Morris, Reverend Brown, Baba
Jermaine Fowler as Lavelle Junson
Shari Headley as Lisa
Leslie Jones as Mary Junson
Tracy Morgan as Kareem Junson
Wesley Snipes as General Izzi
KiKi Layne as Meeka
James Earl Jones as King Jaffe Joffer
John Amos as Cleo McDowell
Paul Bates as Oha