- Movie Rating -

Coming 2 America (2021)

| March 9, 2021

I had a knee-jerk reaction going into Coming 2 America and it’s not without prior experience.  Comedy sequels have a long-standing history of offering up less-than-nothing, from Ghostbusters II to Men in Black II to Revenge of the Nerds II to Home Alone 2 they’re almost always a hollow cash-grab, a cynical exercise in which the public is asked to pay good money to witness an annuity in action.

I’m happy to call Coming 2 America, a nice exception.  It’s not the most blindingly original thing that I have ever seen, but I had fun.  It is lively and quick and . . . shock and awe, I found myself laughing quite a bit!  I laughed early and I laughed often, and when I can say that about a comedy, then the movie has gotten over the first hurdle.

Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy, again) is about the be the ruler of Zamunda, having married his American bride Lisa (Shari Headley, again) has settled down to family-hood with three daughters, but an apparently iron-clad law says that none of them can rule as Queen.  That creates a problem.  Akeem’s ailing father (James Earl Jones, again) who is not longed for this Earth but doesn’t seem too eager to leave, chastises his son for never having fathered a son.


A complication comes to light with the information that His Prince-ness fathered a bastard son while in America 30 years ago (the hoops that this script has to jump through to make this happen are mind-boggling).  So, Akeem travels back to Queens to find this young man and bring him back to train as the new king.  The son is Levelle (Jermaine Fowler), a nice kid who is swept up and flown back to Africa to be the ruler of a country that he’s never heard of.  Worse, he has to marry the daughter of General Izzi (Wesley Snipes) one of Akeem’s political enemies from a neighboring country.  The name of that country gave me my first laugh of the entire movie – I won’t spoil it.

What I responded to with this movie (besides the fact that it made me laugh) is just how eager the cast is to entertain.  This is not a retread of Coming 2 America and it tries to walk a path of its own despite the fact that it references the original in almost every single scene.  It does this, but it never gets tiresome, maybe because the references never step on the comedy.  And it’s the comedy that works.  Everyone is given equal time.  There are a dozen or so characters here both new and returning and no one seems to disappear into the background.  Arsenio Hall is back and so are John Amos, Louis Anderson, James Earl Jones, Paul Bates and the gaggle of side characters that Hall and Murphy play.  Also new cast members Tracy Morgan, KiKi Layne, and the invaluable Leslie Jones.

All the stops have gone out here.  This is a glorious looking production popping with color in almost every scene.  The movie didn’t necessarily need to look this exuberant but you’re thankful for the generosity.  It might be nice to see Ruth E. Carter’s costumes and Jeff Sage’s production design nominated for an Oscar next week (or would it be next year?)  They deserve it.

Eddie Murphy deserves a lot of credit here too.  He’s very funny and he fits well into the role of a devoted father and leader.  I am always championing good work from Murphy because I’ve seen him through is best and his worst.  It’s been 33 years since Coming to America, a movie that stood as the precipice of his career at a crucial junction point – it turned out to be the last film of his successful box office run before his career (and his reputation) went into a free fall from which he would spend the next decade struggling to recover. 

That’s not to say that Coming 2 America is the best comedy in his canon – the film’s third act has to struggle to untie the knots in the plot – but it does remind us of the better, uncluttered movies that made him a star in the first place.  Its energy and comic invention remind me of my favorite of his films; Beverly Hills Cop, 48hrs., Trading Places.  This is a fun movie.  I had a good time.  I laughed and that surprised me.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2021) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy