After thirty years, Eddie Murphy has returned as one of his most iconic characters in comedy history, Prince Akeem Joffer in Coming 2 America, the long awaited sequel to one of the funniest comedies of the eighties. In Coming 2 America, Akeem has been crowned King of Zamunda by his dying father, King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones), and is ruling with his Queen, Lisa (Shari Headley), who Akeem has met and fell in love with while on his trip to Queens in the first film. Blessed with three daughters (KiKi Layne, Bella Murphy, and Akiley Love), Akeem eventually learns that he also has a son and must set out with his best friend and royal aide, Semmi (Arsenio Hall) back to America and seek him out.
What made Coming To America such a comedy classic is not only its irreverence, but its the innocent charm of Akeem as he learns the customs of America while pretending not to be royalty. While Coming 2 America definitely has its charming moments and a few laughs, what it is missing is that riotous sense of humor and the spark that made Coming To America a laugh-fest. Instead, we are treated to call-backs to the first film (with footage added in for good measure), a sense of wokeness, and a plot that mostly keeps us trapped in the exotic nation of Zamunda, as grand and beautiful as it may look. Of course, Coming 2 America was not going to be as good as its predecessor. In fact, most comedy sequels are not. However, in a world that is trying to be politically-correct, it is a case of a sequel that is nearly thirty years too late.
It is not like the film goes without trying. It seems to know its limits and tries to speak to an audience that could find an Eddie Murphy comedy too raunchy for their tastes. Might I remind you that director Craig Brewer has worked with Murphy before in the Rudy Ray Moore biopic Dolemite is my Name, which went all-out in its raunchiness and crudity, though not having the same writer(s) does not help its case. I cannot say that toning it down for a PG-13 rating is bothersome either. Murphy and Hall’s characters are still funny, especially when playing the multiple characters that were present in the first film. (The men at the barbershop, a shaman, the creepy preacher, and Randy Watson all make appearances here). Though they get limited as a form of satire of PC culture. There is even a love story between Akeem’s son Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler) and Zamunda’s royal groomer, Mirembe (Nomzamo Mbatha) that is sweet, yet becomes predictable. While Wesley Snipes is at his best as General Izzi, the leader of Nextdoria, who has a personal vendetta against Akeem over something that happened years ago.
Coming 2 America is at its best when these bits of nostalgia show up; that may not be saying much for a comedy sequel, but it helps at the least. Though its plot device involving how Akeem fathered Lavelle through a woman named Mary Junson (Leslie Jones) while on a trip to America, through the magic of de-aging, may be the most baffling, albeit, ridiculous thing to come from it. Coming 2 America may not be the return we were hoping for, but as a sequel to a movie that is decades old, you could do worse.