“Coming 2 America,” directed by Craig Brewer, sees Eddie Murphy return as Prince Akeem in the sequel to “Coming to America” (1988).
In the film, Akeem is informed by his father that he has a son living in New York City and he must travel to bring him back to Zamunda to become the rightful heir to the throne.
Along with Murphy, most of the original cast returns including Arsenio Hall as Akeem’s right-hand man Semmi, Shari Headley, John Amos, Paul Bates and James Earl Jones. Newcomers include a range of familiar faces such as Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan and Wesley Snipes. As well as multiple celebrity cameos that should not be spoiled.
For a sequel that comes more than 30 years after the original, it is certainly nice to see all of the characters from Zamunda again. This includes the ones that Murphy and Hall also play, who reside in New York City, such as the old barbers, who are somehow still alive.
There is a level of charm that Murphy brings to the screen that is simply brilliance on display, and the comedy lands without missing a beat. The film also contains gorgeous production and costume design, which is a highlight of the film, as it displays fabulous African fashion trends.
However, the problem with “Coming 2 America” is that it leaves many fans underwhelmed because it rehashes the original plot of the first one.
Instead of the film doing what it should have done and have the plot focus on a new story for Akeem and his problems, which, not to say it does not do that, it primarily focuses on his son and the disdain he has for an arranged marriage.
His son, Lavelle, played by Jermaine Fowler, is open to an arranged marriage between himself and the daughter of Gen. Izzi, played by Wesley Snipes, says the marriage will benefit Zamunda and his nation of Nextdoria. It is not until Lavelle meets Mirembe, played by Nomzamo Mbatha, and falls in love that he backs out of the arranged marriage and makes it his goal to marry her.
This plot aspect is nearly the same as Akeem’s in the original film, where he goes to America to find a woman to marry so he can avoid an arranged one. The primary difference in this film, which is probably the most disappointing aspect, is that Akeem spends roughly 15 minutes in New York City, as the majority of the film takes place at the palace in Zamunda.
The highlight of the original film is Akeem journeying through the city and discovering its culture, inhabitants and adjusting to life outside of royalty.
While it is understandable that the writers chose to have the sequel take place primarily in Zamunda, as being in New York probably would feel like a further rehash of the first, they still were not quite able to make this film stand apart as the key story elements remain the same with rotated characters.
The film also presents a promising element regarding gender equality in that Akeem has a daughter who meets all the qualifications to be the heir to the throne, but is denied because she is a woman, and he “cannot ignore 100 years of Zamunda tradition.”
The aspect could have been explored more thoroughly through Akeem’s character and his daughter’s, but she and the storyline get sidelined as the focus is on his son and his journey.
Overall, there is something to be said about Murphy’s charm that makes the revisit to this world worth the viewer’s time as it reels in some laughs, as well as Murphy and Hall’s talent of playing multiple characters. Although, it would have been nice to see some more original story ideas.
“Coming 2 America” is currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video.