It has been more than three decades since the classic comedy film Coming To America had hit the screens. The Zamundans have returned in the recent Amazon Prime production, Coming 2 America, through the direction of Craig Brewer. The film has been aired one day earlier than what was promoted. The reviews have so far been mostly positive.
The story in Coming 2 America
Coming 2 America has a script whose direction is largely inspired by the first film. Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall reprise their roles as Prince Akeem and Semmi respectively. However, Prince Akeem has aged and is no longer the young man who had come to Queens searching for love. This time he is here to search for an illegitimate son and to prepare him for being the next in line to the throne of Zamunda.
Prince Akeem is forced into this return because Zamundan law forbids women from being in power. He already has three highly capable daughters, by his wife Lisa, who would be perfectly suitable for the role. Shari Headley is cast in the role of Prince Akeem’s spouse.
Lavelle Junson, who is portrayed by Jermaine Fowler, is the main focus of Coming 2 America’s story. His and his mother, played by Leslie Jones, adventure in the unfamiliar Zamunda terrain is what the script has focused on. Of course, this has the unfortunate side-effect of lowering the presence of Eddie Murphy.
As such, the story of Coming 2 America is a direct link to the prequel. Murphy’s kingdom also faces the potential threat of General Izzy, who will be the heir should Prince Akeem fail to present a son for the throne. Wesley Snipes has put in an astounding performance for the role.
Coming 2 America marks Brewer’s second time working with Eddie Murphy. He had previously worked with the comedy star in the 2019 film Dolemite Is My Name. This film however features a much smaller cast. It also has the added weight of being a sequel to a cult favorite.
Coming 2 America’s Tribute To The Original
Brewer, possibly as an influence of his experience with Murphy, focuses on the actor. The focus, according to some critics, maybe too much. As such, some critics find it to be detracting from the story itself. However, it is mere conjecture on whether the director or the script itself is responsible for this opinion.
The comedic scenes in Coming 2 America have loads of references to the prequel. Most importantly it tries to stay as faithful as possible to the gags and laughs of the first film. In the beginning, there is a scene where Prince Akeem and his wife is woken up by their three daughters. This, for the ones who know, would be a reference to the first film when Akeem was single.
There was a similar scene where the single Akeem was woken, on the day he turned 21, by his three beautiful and naked attendants. It is not too difficult to see that care has been taken to film the scene in Coming 2 America exactly as it was in the original. However, it may come across as awkward for people being introduced to the Zamundan Royal for the first time.
There are other such popular references such as General Izzi’s sister. The sister was the betrothed of the Prince in the first film. Her character, even after so many years, is shown to have the familiar trait of barking. Moreover, after returning to Queens in search of his illegitimate heir, the setting of the city has quite visibly changed. It has become much more proper with bigger and shinier buildings that made the scene nostalgic of what it was.
However, the famous My-T-Sharp barbershop is still in business. It remains decrepit in appearance, even with all of the progress and change around it. The unchanged appearance of the shop extended to its occupants as well, with the infamous trio immediately quipping at Prince Akeem and Semmi with rather obvious references to famous fictional personas.
For this day and age, one might find placing such dialogues in a film to be problematic, to say the least. However, Coming 2 America faces them head-on and acknowledges them to the point of making them almost safe. An ensuing scene of a random customer getting kicked out for ridiculing the children of Africa also adds to the disposing of the bomb. The script shows that it knows its limits.
Coming 2 America also re-enacts the hilarious scenes where Akeem and Semmi had to portray a variety of characters. The scenes even now have the same effectiveness at drawing laughter. There is a retcon scene which is set in 1988. The scene depicts the younger Murphy being “seduced” by Leslie Jones with a ceremonial cigarette, a candle used to light a pumpkin, and her crotch. The scene is true to the comic nature of the original film.
The film also retains all the extravagance and over-the-top rituals and ceremonies of the Zamundans. Near the beginning of the film, the King of Zamunda celebrates himself. There are multiple popular 90s bands present in that scene as well as the customary dancers.
Coming 2 America Is A Delightful Sequel
Coming 2 America, with all its returning gags, still manages to not be politically incorrect and draw ire from the audience. Brewer’s direction of making the joke, the joke, has managed to make the film as pure a sequel as could have been hoped for. Murphy’s lack of presence, compared to the original at least, might be a negative point for the veterans. However, that would have been hardly feasible to recreate provided where Murphy stood in his career as a comedian back in 1988.
However, Coming 2 America does well to quickly make the audience gloss over that fact. The story, given its setting, later on, sees Akeem’s son follow more or less a very similar trajectory. The fish-out-of-water situation of him and his mother is reminiscent of Akeem. Also, he is betrothed to General Izzy’s daughter however, he ends up falling in love with his barber, a dilemma similar to that faced by his father.
General Izzy’s role can come across as a disappointment, however. His character has not been given as much importance as the script seemed to have set up for him. However, there are a variety of cameos in the film like Salt-N-Pepa and En Vogue.
Coming 2 America is a nostalgic trip down memory lane for those familiar with the first one. It has shown itself to be a capable sequel to a beloved film that was released quite a long while back. It is a sequel made more than three decades later and yet it has managed to honor it, to the point of possibly reinvigorating the enthusiasm for the original classic.