It’s been over 30 years since director John Landis and Eddie Murphy brought theater audiences the classic comedy Coming to America. That film to this day transcends comedy while giving a heartwarming tale of an immigrant looking for a soul mate.
Now, Eddie Murphy has returned to the role of Prince Akeem with director Craig Brewer at the wheel. The duo were able to capture magic on Dolemite Is My Name, so it seems fitting that energy might carry over to a Coming to America sequel.
Was the 30 year wait for Coming 2 America worth it? Here is our full review of the Amazon Prime release.
Coming 2 America review
Where the last movie involved Prince Akeem hoping to find love in the United States, the sequel shows the Prince searching for a son he never realized he had.
In the film, Prince Akeem has been living a peaceful life with his wife Lisa (Shari Headley), and the two now have three daughters. One of these daughters Meeka (Kiki Layne) has been fighting her whole life to be an heir to the throne–despite the patriarchal rule that only men can rule the kingdom of Zamunda.
But after being threatened with war by General Izzi (Wesley Snipes), who demands a marriage, Akeem learns that he has had a son hiding in Queens, New York, for years. In hopes of avoiding war, he decides to journey, once again, to America to bring his long-lost heir home to Zamunda.
Let’s just start by stating the obvious. Coming 2 America is not as good as the 1988 film. The film has a 30-year shelf life that has mostly stood the test of time as a classic, and a sequel was never going to meet anyone’s expectations after all these years.
So with this in mind, it’s best to manage expectations before approaching the sequel.
Adding to this, the original film–as wholesome as it was—was aimed towards an adult audience. It had foul language, nudity, and well– it was a 1980’s Eddie Murphy movie.
Coming 2 America is tamer in comparison, mostly because Eddie Murphy is a different artist now. He’s a father with a ton of children, so he thinks like a dad now.
And this comes across the entire film and in the chosen direction of the screenplay. Prince Akeem is a family man trying to make the decisions for his kingdom, his new son, and his daughters. And the script deals with a lot of family dilemmas about what he should do for his kids.
Because of this, the humor is more juvenile at times, and the comedy plays it safe to get a wider appeal. One can imagine Murphy tells a lot of Dad Jokes at home.
Viewers need to keep in mind; the sequel is not as willing to be as bold as that first film because it’s not the same Murphy. The first film was spontaneous at times, such as the moment when the film just completely halted to focus all of our attention on a Geri curl commercial called “Soul Glo” and just left us there. Even Randy Watson of Sexual Chocolate came out of left field. And as impulsive as these decisions were, all of them paid off.
Fans of the original can expect some of these classic bits. Randy Watson is back, the royal bathers are here, and so is that sleazy reverend played by Arsenio Hall. The way it is executed here though is like an old-school musician playing the same hits that made them famous instead of experimenting with new material.
This does not mean Coming 2 America isn’t enjoyable. In fact, there are sweeter elements to this film than the original. Some of the sweetest moments happen when it touches on the family aspects of how flawed Zamunda’s traditions are to women.
One can even find the subtext of changing leadership. The film shows each idealistic individual that takes a throne–whether it’s President or King– has all these great ideas and eventually gets dragged down unwittingly by tradition.
But to expect Coming 2 America to reach the heights of the original is doing a disservice to the viewing experience.
Coming 2 America is enjoyable if viewers keep their anticipation in check when thinking of what the sequel should be. It’s not as bold or spontaneous with the comedy as the original film. And the sequel might play familiar notes to a fault at times.
But the wholesomeness of the first film remains present with an aim towards family instead of the fish out of water story. The original had Murphy in his prime, and it’s clear with the sequel he just wants to make movies that he can enjoy while being a father. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that sentiment.
Coming 2 America is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.