Directed by Craig Brewer
March 4, 2015
Akeem learns that he has a son and returns to America to claim him in an effort to have an heir to his throne and thwart the mechanizations of a neighboring nation.
This was perhaps one of the releases I anticipated the most last year and I admit when it was not only delayed but sold to a Prime Video which I did not subscribe to I was quite upset. Fortunately my girlfriend started subscribing to Prime so a shoutout to her here!
Nostalgia played a big part in my enjoyment of this movie, I admit it. One of the things I enjoyed about this movie were the number of original cast members they got to make appearances in this film one more time. Even minor ones popped in to say “Hi!” at points. It was fun for me to recognize different actors or actresses or even different characters that Murphy and Hall played when they showed up again.
We have returning cast members like Shari Headley returns as (now) Queen Lisa Joffer whom Akeem’s met and married in the original. James Earl Jones returns as King Jaffe Joffer. Paul Bates who was great in the original returns shows up as longtime royal servant Oha. What would this film be without John Amos as Cleo McDowell who is now running his McDowell’s restaurant in Zamunda and even brought along his employee Maurice (Louie Anderson). That was a bit of a stretch but still funny. Even Vanessa Bell Calloway returns as the barking woman that Akeem was to marry in the original. Director Craig Brewer even brought back the beat-boxing twins Fresh Peaches (Janette Rosillo) and Sugar Cube (Vanessa Colon) from the nightclub scene in the first film.
Joining the original cast in important roles is KiKi Layne as Princess Meeka Joffer, Akeem’s and Lisa’s first daughter who feels she should be getting the throne but is prevented by tradition and Zamundan law from doing so. Bella Murphy (yes, Eddie’s daughter) is Princess Omma Joffer, Akeem’s and Lisa’s second daughter. Akiley Love is Princess Tinashe Joffer, Akeem’s and Lisa’s third daughter.
New to the Coming to America universe is Jermaine Fowler as Lavelle Junson, Akeem’s illegitimate son with Mary Junson (Leslie Jones), whom was conceived during a drug induced one night stand.
The character of Lavelle is the basic good kid that just cannot find his groove in life. He is a bit aimless but has dreams. He is trying to find work but gets screwed at every turn. They use this to give a funny callback to the original which also connects both films to another Murphy vehicle-Trading Places. In Coming to America Akeem gave money to two homeless men who turn out to be the now destitute Randolph and Mortimer Duke from Trading Places. Colin Jost shows up in the scene as Mr. Duke who is the grandson of one of the brothers. It does not take much to connect films. Keep that in mind all you filmmakers.
A particular treat was the appearance of Tracy Morgan. Here he is Lavelle’s Uncle Reem. Morgan is one of those comedic actors that goes all in and gets the laugh every time. He throws himself fully into everything and does not hold back. Comediennes could learn from him.
Coming 2 America is quite possibly the first time I was entertained by Leslie Jones. While I never really hated her, I never was thrilled by her on SNL and I thought her appearance in Ghostbusters ’16 was horrible but then again I didn’t like the film at all so there’s that. She was absolutely hilarious here and I will definitely reevaluate my position on her.
But Wesley Snipes was the real treat here. As General Izzi, leader of the nation of Nextdoria, he stole every scene he was in. Snipes was a balance of threatening and hammy. He is a great action star, but Snipes is an actor of genuine talent with a broad range that he just does not get to use enough. That is a real shame.
Murphy and Hall, who returns as Semmi, also reprise their other original film characters. Murphy shows up as the local barber Mr. Clarence and the Jewish customer Saul and best of all as Randy Watson, soul singer with the fictional hit band Sexual Chocolate. Hall is back as the Reverend Brown, Mr. Clarence’s right hand barber Morris, and was also the new character of the witchdoctor Baba. Baba was some serious makeup, and it took me a minute or two to realize he was there.
I will admit the story of Coming 2 America is a bit of a rehash of the original film. They did not try to hard here. Lavelle leaves America (rather than comes to America) and finds love with royal groomer Mirembe (Nomzamo Mbatha). Much like Akeem he must follow his heart rather than give in to tradition. Unlike Akeem, his actions begin the process of change in Zamunda.
The main thrust of the story is the inequality of women in Zamunda. Princess Meeka has been working all her life to prepare to ascend to the throne, but law and tradition says she cannot. This causes a friendly-like rivalry with Lavelle who has decided to take up Akeem on his offer because he really has no other good options but finds that leading a country is not for him.
The ending of the film is telegraph within the first few minutes. If you cannot figure it out, then I am sorry. But I did not necessarily come to this movie for an intricate plot or big twists. I came to laugh and I laughed. I thought the jokes were pretty good even if the film on the whole wasn’t as funny as the original.
I have heard people complain about this film and I must say I am not sure why. Were they expecting something as great as the original? Were their expectations tinged by nostalgia? Being as good as the original would be tough. It is after all a certified classic. That is a high bar to leap over for any sequel to a popular film. Having said that this is still a very good and very funny movie.
Is Coming 2 America as good as the original? No but I am not sure how it could be. Is it a good film on its own? Definitely so I say watch it!