Movie Review | ‘Coming 2 America’ is a Familiar Storyline with a Trip Down Memory Lane

–Spoiler-free–

More than 30 years ago, Eddie Murphy brought out one of the greatest comedies on-screen, Coming to America—the story of a spoiled African prince who went to America in search of a bride. He got married to the love of his life, Lisa (Shari Headley), but marriage is never the end, is it? 

The sequel to Coming to America follows the search for Akeem’s (Eddie Murphy) bastard son in Queens, New York. Of course, he goes with Semmi (Arsenio Hall), his most trusted friend and personal aide—where would Akeem go without him? 

Image via Amazon Studios
Akeem and his confidant, Semmi, in the 2020 movie.
Akeem and Semmi in the orignal movie. Via Paramount Pictures

Akeem has three daughters– Meeka (Kiki Layne), Omma (Bella Murphy) and the youngest Tinashe (Akiley Love), but with no male heir. Following the demise of Akeem’s father, King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones), he has no choice but to follow the custom of Zamunda and seek for a male heir, which bothers his wife, Lisa, and eldest daughter, Meeka. 

Meeka has been preparing for the role her whole life and believes that when the time is right, she will get the chance to succeed her father but who dares shun a custom that has existed  for hundreds of years. Akeem is faced with the responsibility of training his new son, Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler) the Zamundan way, anger from his wife and eldest daughter, and the looming destruction of his kingdom by General Izzi (Wesley Snipes). 

Image via Amazon Studios
It’s just like I said, reunion of old characters and speck of new ones

Coming 2 America is more of a reunion of old characters and a speck of new ones. The sight of the old characters from the 1988 Coming to America makes the sequel enthralling and fun to watch. It does bring back old memories, but at what cost—when the sequel is basically an archetype of the first part. 

The cameo appearance and performance by Morgan Freeman during the burial ceremony of King Joffer is beautiful, in fact, it is perfect. Actors like Wesley Snipes (Blade, The Expendables 3) and Rotimi (Power) clearly enjoy the chance to show their comedic side ( a new face to Snipes, who slayed vampires for fun, and the latter, a narcotic gangster). 

Trevor Noah’s character as the ZNN (a Zamunda TV Network) anchor and the musical performances from the likes of En Vogue, Gladys Knight and, of course, one of Nigeria’s favourite, Davido, gave the movie the charm it needed.  The new characters introduced give the movie a different but yet familiar look. 

Image via Amazon studios

Coming 2 America was made, maybe in a bid to outshine the first part but it merely exists in the shadow of its predecessor. Sequels are usually made to continue the elements of the original story. It is meant to be a continuation not a copy. Even in this sequel, the king’s bastard, Lavelle, said “what do we (American cinema) have besides superhero shit, remakes and sequels to old movies nobody asked for?” Who actually asked for a rehash of the original Coming to America?

The writers, Kenya Barris, Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield merely  rewrote the old script rather than writing a new one—even Quentin Tarantino can’t change my mind about this😅. There were moments of genuine hilarity and then, further crass jokes in the movie. The one thing I really enjoyed about the movie are the beautiful costumes (helmed by Black Panther’s costume designer, Ruth E. Carter) and the lavish settings. One could easily get lost amidst the vibrant and luxurious costumes. If there is any award like Best Costume Designs, Ruth E. Carter will definitely be nominated for her work in Coming 2 America. 

Image via Amazon Studios

At a point, I thought it was a fashion parade rather than a movie— but hey, don’t get me wrong cos I loved every bit of it. Funnily enough, all I could think about during the dancing performances, mixed with the amazing costumes designs, was the Michael Jackson song “Remember the Time”, featuring Eddie Murphy as the King of Egypt. 

Instead of enjoying the movie as a comedy, I found solace in the artistic value employed in other departments . Trust me, a 10-year old kid would enjoy the dance performances and maybe grin or chuckle at the sight of the beautiful attires, but the profane languages and words used are a little too much, so an adult supervision might be needed. 

The details in the costume. wow, Ruth, wow! Via Amazon Studios.

Coming 2 America should not be seen as a chance to pine over the masterpiece of its predecessor, rather an opportunity to revisit old characters and an introduction to new ones. Any lover of Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America should not resort to any form of comparison, because then, you might feel the sequel is just a waste of time and a sort of reunion-vacation for the original characters. The film magnificently celebrates and portrays Black culture and champions the notion that the ideas and identities of women should be upheld in the society.

Rating: 5.5/10

Side Musings 

  • When Akeem declared his desire to revisit Queens, New York to search for his son. My mind went straight to the barbershop scene in the original movie. If the movie is a replica of the old one, they might as well include one of fans favourite from the original movie.
  • The standout costumes and accessories to showcase Africa’s culture were greatly designed (I would have described my best costume design here but I will just mix everything up).
  • I can never unsee Trevor Noah with his moustache as the ZNN anchor.

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