Dropping a night early on Amazon Prime, Coming 2 America was trying to do something that is really difficult to do: be a good sequel to a comedy movie 30 years later. There are way more sequels that were terrible (Zoolander 2, Dumb and Dumber 2, Anchorman 2 etc) than those that are good. Coming 2 America had a huge hurdle to get over to avoid falling into the same club.
Sadly, it could not do it.
I was disappointed with Coming 2 America. I had been excited for this project and was anticipating watching this movie. When it dropped early, it was so unexpected that it felt special, and, while I would not put it in the same category as some of those other sequels I mentioned, this was nowhere near what I had hoped it would be.
Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is still in Zamunda with his princess Lisa (Shari Headley) and his three daughter. As Akeem’s father King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) is on his deathbed, a neighboring despot General Izzi (Wesley Snipes) is looking to grab some power, either by marrying off his son to one of the daughters of Akeem or by something more violent.
Trying to look strong, Akeem discovered that he had a bastard son Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler) when he went to America to “sow his royal oats.” Apparently, Lavelle’s mother Mary (Leslie Jones) had been a set up by Semmi (Arsenio Hall) and she wound up drugging Akeem and having sex with him. She wound up pregnant, and Akeem did not know it had happened.
Ignoring that date rape part, Akeem came back to Queens to find his illegitimate son, which he does easily, thanks to the same old barbers that were there thirty years ago (without changing one bit). He brings Lavelle back to Zamunda to attempt and make him into a prince which includes a pre-arranged marriage.
One of the biggest problems with this movie is that it plays on the nostalgia of the original Coming to America so hard that large sections of the movie feels like a repeat of what we saw before. They even replay several scenes from the first movie in the sequel. Why do we need to see the same bits over again in 2021?
There are some strong parts to the film as well. It is not a total failure. Westley Snipes is tremendous as General Izzi, continuing his revitalized career with such interesting choices. Snipes was surprisingly funnier than many of the comedians in the movie. Jermaine Fowler developed Lavelle into a decent character, though he started out as an obnoxious kid. There were some definitely funny moments as well. My favorite scene may have been Akeem and Cleo (John Amos) having a heart to heart talk in the back of the Zamunda version of McDowells.
Unfortunately, parts of this did not work either. Lavelle’s “true love” story with the royal hair dressed felt forced and unrealistic. There was not enough scenes between the two of them to really find the investment in their relationship. There were too many characters who were there to just scream. Not only was there Murphy, Arsenio, Leslie Jones, but also there was Tracy Morgan. Historically, I have not been a fan of that style of comedy.
There were a ton of cameos here too including Morgan Freeman, Salt-N-Pepa, En Vogue, Colin Jost, Gladys Knight, Dikembe Mutombo, and Louie Anderson. These were fun and kept you on your toes while watching.
It is just such a Xerox copy of so much of Coming to America, with just a few little tweaks, that it did not feel new or original. In fact, I found a good chunk of the movie to be boring because I knew what was going to happen. I like al these actors, but there just felt as if there was to much. This version did not take its time like the original and it did not have the same amount of heart or innocence.
I had seen a trailer and it made me nervous because I did not find it funny. Sadly, for me, the trailer did display the movie as I saw it. While I did not hate this, I was absolutely disappointed.