Coming 2 America review – you can’t go home again. Going to Zamunda

March 5, 2021
M.N. Miller 0
Amazon Prime, Film, Film Reviews
2.5

Summary

Coming 2 America spends too much time revisiting jokes and characters from the original without establishing new ones.

2.5

Summary

Coming 2 America spends too much time revisiting jokes and characters from the original without establishing new ones.

I loved Coming to America. That fish-out-of-water original comedy had so much heart to go along with its gut-busting laughs. It even had some biting social commentary. Eddie Murphy’s winning and hilarious performance of a kind man with a big heart were just starting to evolve. From The Nutty Professor to Bowfinger, he is capable of spinning endearing sweetness into comedy gold. So, it’s strange that one of his most famous characters is reduced to a straight man for the majority of the sequel.

Murphy sets his sequel thirty-years in the making in the land of Zamunda. The fictional royal African country has a newly-crowned King, Akeem (Murphy). His father, King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) has been taken ill. He has decided it is time for his son to take the throne. Akeem and his wife, Lisa (Shari Headley), now have three beautiful daughters.

Their eldest, Meeka (Kiki Layne), is smart, driven, and a fierce leader. She has eyes on the throne being handed to her when she is old enough. The issue is, the law states it has to be a male. That’s when Semmi (Arsenio Hall) tells Akeem something he forgets. He had a one-night stand with a woman in Queens (played by Leslie Jones) and has fathered a son, named Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler). He travels back to America to bring his son back. This way Meeka can help prevent a war between a rival country, led by General Izzi (Wesley Snipes). How? By marrying his son and unifying the countries.

Coming 2 America was directed by Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow) and was an odd choice considering the original was directed by a comedy legend in John Landis. Brewer may have helped elevate the musical numbers and production design (I still think it does not compare to the original), but not many can compare to Landis’ comic direction. Though, their last collaboration together, Dolemite Is My Name, had a nice sense of comic relief. The script, written by long-time Murphy scribe Craig Sheffer, spends way too much time rehashing old jokes and characters from the original.

Is this a bad thing? Of course not. I’m grateful they did not recast Shari Headley. The sight of her and veteran actor Jon Amos in a Zamunda McDowell’s franchise is crowd-pleasing. Though, too much emphasis throughout the first two acts is not about establishing the new characters and finding a fresh angle. The film eventually finds a rhythm, in particular with Fowler’s fish-out-of-water story. This would have worked better if it was set for the majority in a new setting and creating new crazy characters, which it does not do enough of. While the story is predictable, you would think it still has Murphy, but the makers here strangely let their best asset take a back seat.

If you are a fan of the original, like I am, there is no choice to see Coming 2 America. Though, prepare to be disappointed. Many will enjoy revisiting beloved character creations by Murphy and Hall. And at times, it’s worth your time (Sexual Chocolate, anyone?) They just needed more original ones and take more chances as they did with the original.

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