By Paul Hall
Movies bring joy to our lives in a variety of ways. We love to revisit those memories we have of days gone by — the laughter, the fun and the moments that helped make us the people we are today. With the release of the new film Coming 2 America, available now on Amazon Prime Video, we get a chance to relive some of those moments via a sequel to Coming to America, over 30 years after the original film’s release.
Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and his lovely bride Lisa (Shari Headley) awaken on the morning of their 30th wedding anniversary. The country of Zamunda is prosperous and Akeem has been blessed with three smart, strong and beautiful daughters — Tinashe (Akiley Love), Omma (Bella Murphy) and Meeka (KiKi Layne). While the lovely queen has passed, King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) still rules and still believes that Akeem needs a son.
As the king senses he is nearing the end of his life, he informs Akeem that a rival country’s leader, General Izzi (Wesley Snipes), will invade Zamunda upon his death. With no male heir to the throne, he believes Izzi’s forces will have Akeem murdered and will take over Zamunda.
However, there may be a son who was born as the result of Akeem’s earlier visit to Queens. Before you know it, Akeem and his trusted assistant Semmi (Arsenio Hall) return to New York to find Akeem’s long-lost son.
In Coming 2 America, Murphy is wonderfully loyal to many of his friends and costars from the 1988 hit. These appearances elicit some of the biggest smiles during the new film. Brief scenes featuring Cleo McDowell (John Amos), Oha (Paul Bates) and a number of the characters that Murphy and Hall brought to life in the original film are quite possibly the best moments in the sequel. They transported me back to my late ’80s self and a time filled with many good memories.
The new characters introduced in the sequel, including Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler), his mom Mary (Leslie Jones) and Uncle Reem (Tracy Morgan), don’t have the spark I hoped to witness. They are talented in their own rights, but the laughter they try to elicit becomes mere chuckles and smiles. The originality of the first film feels lost and underutilized. A film that I hoped would grow the legend of this Zamundan fairy tale felt more like a simple rehash — and one with far less finesse this time around.
Coming 2 America goes back to Zamunda, but Zamunda doesn’t have the magic that Murphy delivered in Queens. Zamundan traditions reign, but are they the traditions of a modern world? I would love to see a return to the magic, to the laughs and to the fun, but it’s only a smile and memory for Coming 2 America.
Paul’s Grade: C
Coming 2 America
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Shari Headley, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan
Director: Craig Brewer