Coming 2 America is the sequel to the widely popular and critical success from 1988 from director John Landis. Making sequels many years after the original, 33 years later, in this case, has become a thing lately. The question is can a sequel come out many years after the original and capture the originality, fanfare, and cultural significance that the original did? Amazon Prime is gambling that it will.
Set mostly in Zamunda, the newly minted leader of the kingdom, Akeem (Eddie Murphy), and his trusted friend and confidant, Semmi (Arsenio Hall), try to navigate their new roles as rulers of the country. A potential threat emerges from the country next door, and its leader General Izzi (Wesley Snipes), could threaten everything his father built. Going back to America might be their only salvation for the future of Zamunda.
The original Coming to America relied on many laughs from the audience from the fish-out-of-water situations Akeem and Semmi got themselves into. This film also succeeds in that regard. The new film tried to double down on this in the exact opposite way. Craig Brewer, the director, brought in new characters that would come to Zamunda and try to adapt to that world. The Royal Kingdom has its ups and downs. Royal bathers, groomers, and servants can be a bit to get used to, especially for the illegitimate son of Akeem, Lavelle Johnson (Jermaine Fowler), and his mother (Leslie Jones).
Many situations are funny in the film because of the royal nature of the film. dances and so forth are quite funny to watch. The characters just accentuate all of the ritzy stuff in the film. The costumes, hairstyles, and set production are all first-rate for a film about a rich African nation. They spared no expense in these departments. A little CGI added in and viola — you have a fancy African nation.
Another fun part of the original that Brewer, Murphy, and company keep in the film is the multiple characters Murphy and Hall play. Revisiting the barbershop with all the colorful characters is a pleasant surprise for me. They even add more than just those guys in the film. A sneaky wise man, a lounge lizard, and a preacher are all added to the mix. They’re all funny new characters. Levelle’s Uncle (Tracy Morgan) and Maurice (Louie Anderson) also add some laughs to the film.
Although Coming 2 America is a charming and funny film, at times it lacks the originality of the first one. In these times we live in, it’s hard to do cutting-edge things anymore. The characters went for the jokes in the 1988 version. This time around that aspect of the film was tamer. That hurt my overall enjoyment of the sequel. This film wasn’t bad by any means — it just wasn’t on the caliber of the original.
Dan Skip Allen
Sean Boelman Editor and Chief