Prince Akeem is back after 30 years. He is a father of three girls which is, of course, a problem since only men are allowed to be heirs to the throne and, on the eve of his father’s death, Akeem is told he has an illegitimate son from his trip to America in the first movie. Now, Akeem and Simi travel back to Queens to track down the new heir to the throne of Zamunda.
Coming 2 America misses a lot of marks. The cultural misunderstandings that made the first movie such a classic are mostly absent from this unnecessary sequel that no one asks for. As a matter of fact, for a movie that touts itself as “Coming 2 America,” they actually don’t spend a lot of time there, opting instead to flip the formula and show the illegitimate son, Lavelle, and the culture shock he experiences coming to Zamunda. Why not just call this movie Coming to Zamunda?
I feel that there were a lot of missed opportunities here. While there were plenty of gags about Lavelle and Zamundan traditions, I think the movie would have benefited from making Lavelle the genuine protagonist of the movie, allowing the audience to make his journey with him. Discovering a culture that he and we are unfamiliar with. His mom, played by Leslie Jones, could have been his Simi, equally confused and off put by a strange new world.
Instead, what we get is a moderately acceptable movie that, again, no one asked for that relies on simple nostalgia to survive. That doesn’t make it bad, but the result is an underwhelming retread that introduces next to nothing new and takes no risks.
Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall, to their credit, are at the top of their game and the flashback scene with young Eddie Murphy is probably one of the best de-aging/special effects trickery sequences I’ve seen.
I also have to say that I forgot how amazingly funny Wesley Snipes can be.
Coming 2 America has its moments. James Earl Jones’ brief time in the movie is genuinely adorable and absurd and Eddie and Arsenio fall back into all of their Coming to America characters so easily that their appearances are nostalgic comfort food but, for the most part, the movie never lives up to any potential it might have.
I think that, most of all, the movie looks cheap and has little impact.
The result? The movie is fine.
That’s the highest praise and the most brutal rebuke I can give it.