Movie Review: Coming 2 America
Coming 2 America is a continuation of the story of Zamunda, a fictional, wealthy African nation and its heir Prince Akeem. There is trouble brewing on Zamunda's border with the powerful General Izzi of Nextdoria (not a typo) threatening war unless an alliance is made. Having no legitimate male heir, Akeem must return to Queens to find the bastard son he never knew he had and save the royal line of Zamunda. The film stars Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Kiki Layne, Jermaine Fowler, Shari Headley, Nomzamo Mbatha Paul Bates, Wesley Snipes, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, John Amos, Trevor Noah, Clint Smith, Bella Murphy, Akiley Love, Teyana Taylor, Rotimi, Louie Anderson, and James Earl Jones. The film is directed by Craig Brewer and has a story by Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield, and Justin Kanew and a screenplay by Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield, and Kenya Barris with original characters by Eddie Murphy. The film is streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime.
This is just a rehash. Sincerely, you should watch the original. It's better and so much funnier. Maybe 34 years is too long to wait in between sequels. There's even a line from Lavelle within the movie to that effect. Within fifteen minutes I knew every single beat of the story to come. Yet, that's not to say it isn't an unenjoyable rehash or a terrible waste of time.
I was terrified in the first fifteen minutes or so when Lisa hadn't spoken a word. She was a good character from the first film and I was worried that she'd be thrown under the bus like Rachael in Blade Runner 2049. Though, I was thankful and pleasantly surprised when she makes the most sense and proves that while we're meant to believe she hasn't been pushing hard enough for reform for 30+ years, she still knows to stand up to Akeem in the right moment.
Which leads to the welcome addition of Akeem's daughters and especially Meeka. Zamunda still has laws on the books that prevent a female heir and women from owning businesses. So, an exceptional, qualified woman, Meeka, will be pushed aside for her upstart, illegitimate step-brother because of his genitalia. I like that Meeka isn't entirely in the background, she has her own storyline and while she is furious at her father's decisions, she also realizes a strong leader is built, not born and helps Lavelle in his tests.
It's a strong testament to the legacy of the first film and a fitting tribute to Queen Aoleon (and the actress Madge Sinclair who played her and passed on in 1995) that Akeem finally gets it. He got exactly what he wanted in the first film. He was gifted the presence of an intelligent, independent woman. He just didn't realize his daughter would be so much like her mother or her grandmother. This is why sequels shouldn't come decades after, but we all know the '90s wouldn't have supported this kind of storyline or Lisa pushing for the necessary reforms. I'm glad that in its own silly way, this film recognizes that the future is female.
The future of cinema, I hope, is full of Kiki Layne. Her star has been on the rise and she has the talent to become anyone she chooses. What could have been a one note, kind of bratty performance, is transformed by Layne. She brings a depth of character and humanity to the comedy around her. I've loved every performance she's given and I hope to see so much more of her in the future.
Did I like seeing all of the crazy characters again? Yes. Is it necessary? No. The gratuitous Randy Watson performance made me laugh very hard, though. Coming 2 America is unnecessary, predictable, and at times tedious with its need to remind us of the first film. Yet, it has its moments and it brings all the characters back in ways that are funny. Should you watch it? Probably not, but if you're curious it won't kill you and may even delight you a bit.