Review: ‘Coming 2 America’ Bets On Nostalgia To Win Audiences Over
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Back in the mid-to-late ’80s, Eddie Murphy ruled at the box office. One of his biggest hits was “Coming to America,” the comedy about a fictional young African prince who rejects his arranged marriage to instead seek his bride in Queens, New York.
Now, three decades later, Murphy returns to the role of Prince Akeem in “Coming 2 America” (see what they did there?) and he’s back with all the characters he played in the first movie – and I mean all of them!
In this film, Akeem is set to become King of Zamunda. He’s still married to his wife Lisa, and together they have three strong, talented and lovely daughters. But the law of Zamunda states that only a male may become ruler. So when Akeem learns he may have a son he never knew about back in America, that son may just be the rightful heir to the throne.
As a result, Akeem decides to go to New York once again to meet the boy and perhaps convince him to come to Africa.
I’ll admit that I was really looking forward to seeing this film, as I found the original “Coming to America” to be hilarious and a great showcase of Murphy’s and Arsenio Hall’s comedic talent. Hall is back in this film as Semmi, and it was great to also see James Earl Jones, Shari Headley and almost every background character you remember from the original film.
It also introduces a new group of characters, including Akeem’s possible son Lavelle (played by Jermaine Fowler) and Saturday Night Live alumni Tracy Morgan and Leslie Jones as Lavelle’s uncle and mother.
While the new characters held their own, the highlight of the movie was no doubt Murphy and Hall reprising their multitude of characters. ALL of them – the barbershop guys, the preacher, the lounge singer, and even a couple of new characters played by the two men.
It was certainly a big wave of nostalgia, but nostalgia is a large part of the reason you’re probably watching this in the first place!
The story wasn’t very original. In fact, it was kind of a mirror, a harmony, or a rhyme of the story from the first “Coming to America” movie. But I do think the writers (including Kenya Barris, the creator of the TV show “Black-ish”) got it mostly right, even though they walked a fin line between 1980s sensibilities and where we are today in terms of how gender roles and character are represented in media.
Each of the main characters had moments that were true to their nature, but they also had a chance to grow and progress in their attitudes and actions.
As far as warnings, “Coming 2 America” is rated PG-13 for language and adult sexual jokes, but it’s toned down from the F-words and nudity that gave the first movie its R rating. The run time is 1 hour and 45 minutes.
The movie’s biggest strength is also potentially its biggest weakness: Fans of the original movie will like this sequel best. I’m not sure if you don’t already like 1988’s “Coming to America” that you’ll enjoy 2021’s “Coming 2 America,” because familiarity with the first movie greatly enhances the enjoyment of the second one.
If you’ve never seen the first movie, some of the second movie’s humor will seem like inside jokes that you’re not part of. But watching the first film right before the second one, you’ll see that the first is funnier and more original and the second will likely suffer by comparison.
As for me, I laughed a bunch. I don’t think “Coming 2 America” is destined to be a classic, nor is it better than the original movie. But I loved the nostalgia that came along with re-visiting these characters after all these years.
It’s a great movie to watch with someone else who shares your sense of humor, whether that be your significant other, siblings or friends. You’ll enjoy it far more that way than watching it alone.
I give “Coming 2 America” 2½ out of 4 stars. As for where to watch it, it is not being released to theaters. It is an Amazon Prime exclusive, meaning you have to be subscribed to Amazon Prime, which costs $8.99 a month for streaming video only, or $12.99 a month for streaming video and free 2-day shipping on most Amazon.com orders.
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