When you wait 33 years to make a sequel to a film, there are bound to be at least a few speed bumps. Especially when you’re following up on one of the film comedy greats like “Coming to America,” the shoes to fill can have the tendency to be much too large.
I think that the aforementioned speed bumps aren’t anything new when it comes to the task of trying to revitalize a film that came out a long time ago, but despite what this film may believe, bigger casts, bigger set pieces, and bigger stars doesn’t always equal bigger success.
“Coming 2 America” follows 30 years after Prince Akeem of Zamunda (Eddie Murphy) and his escapades in Queens where he meets his now wife, Lisa (Shari Headley). Together, they have three children, all daughters, and the leader of the aptly named Nexdoria, General Izzi (Wesley Snipes), wishes to take advantage of the fact that Akeem hasn’t produced a male heir. That is, until Akeem’s aide Semmi (Arsenio Hall) comes to him and says that he inadvertently sired an heir after some “messing around” before he met Lisa in Queens.
After learning of this, Akeem and Semmi go back to Queens to meet this heir, a ticket scalper by the name of Lavelle Junson (Jermiane Fowler). After being approached by his biological father after so long, Lavelle accepts Akeem’s proposition to the throne, given that his mother, Mary (Leslie Jones), may accompany him. What follows is fairly similar to the first film, wedding proposals, regal instability, McDonald’s knockoffs, all that jazz. I could get into specifics, but then I’d be here all day.
I think I made a bit of a mistake re-watching the first Coming to America before watching Coming 2 America. Not because it’s a bad film in any amount, but that I watched the sequel as something in the original film’s shadow. Though, if you are at least aware of the first film, you’ll see that Coming 2 America doesn’t really do anything to try and get itself out of that shadow.
I think there’s just a few too many “remember the first movie?” jokes for my liking. I’m perfectly fine with that kind of humor, but if you’re going to make those kinds of jokes, everything else has got to land, otherwise it’s just going to look like the movie’s trying too hard to sell on nostalgia alone.
Unfortunately, the film does have a tendency to collapse under the weight it has put onto itself, trying to recreate and reverse the concept of the first film. I’m aware of not trying to fix what is not broken, but sometimes I think it’s best to try and build something new. The themes tend to be a bit ham-fisted, the performances by the original cast come off as a bit tired, and everything seems a bit too clean compared to the first film.
If you’re a fan of the first film, it is fun to see the side characters that Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall play once again, and it is cute to see the “fish out of water” trope turned on its head for this venture. Though, I’d dare to say that if you have seen the first film, that you really aren’t missing out on anything massive by not watching this film.
For me, it just doesn’t bring enough new to the table to justify the story being told. That being said, if you were really looking forward to a sequel to Coming to America, then I think you’ll be satisfied.