Set in the lush and royal country of Zamunda, newly-crowned King Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and his trusted confidante Semmi (Arsenio Hall) embark on an all-new hilarious adventure that has them traversing the globe from their great African nation to the borough of Queens, New York – where it all began.
We live in a world of movies and television these days that seems to be overruled by the power of nostalgia. There’s quite simply no easier way to trick people into thinking a movie or show is good than to show them things from a previous installment from years prior to trigger that sense of longing. It makes them feel almost young again. It takes them back to perhaps happier and simpler days and reminds them of their youth and the great films they had back in that time.
Sometimes, however, nostalgia can be implemented quite well within a film. A great example of this in my opinion is with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The film kicked off the new sequel trilogy and introduced plenty of brand new and exciting storylines and characters, but along the way, it had bits and pieces of nostalgia mixed in which was a delight to see.
Sadly, Craig Brewer’s Coming 2 America, is not only a massively disappointing sequel but is ultimately a film so rooted in nostalgia and longing for the past, that some may argue that you can’t even call this a sequel because it just feels way too similar to the first entry from 1988.
Not even ten minutes into this follow-up we get a barrage of references to the first film designed to make die-hard fans smile and remember how much they love that first movie. It really felt like the screenwriters had no idea what to do with a sequel to Coming to America, so instead of coming up with a funny and interesting new idea, they basically took the same exact story and just swapped the characters.
In Coming 2 America, we follow yet another love story. And yes, this love story once again is about a man that gets treated like a prince who learns that he just wants to be treated normally and fall in love with the right girl for him. There are so few changes here that I wondered why a “sequel” was even made in the first place.
And even more so – why did Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, and all the other actors from the original agree to be in this? Is it because they were offered a juicy amount of money? I genuinely cannot see them reading this script and thinking it was excellent because really, it’s just like the first movie except a lot less funny.
For the most part, the humor in this movie is just bad. There were only a few times here in which I actually smiled and chuckled, and the rest of the jokes just had me sitting stone-faced in front of my screen. There are also a couple of gags here that are just straight-up offensive, with one jab at transgender people being truly awful.
The movie’s brightest spot is, as you can probably expect, Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall. Unfortunately, they feel strangely off to the side for this follow-up, but whenever they are on-screen together, it is certainly enjoyable and fun to watch them. Their chemistry is still as great as ever, and it does feel as though these two are having a blast returning to the characters of Akeem and Semmi respectively.
But even if you are a massive fan of Coming to America, I don’t see much of a reason why you should check out this new film. It’s essentially more of the same except not as funny, not as witty, and not as heartfelt. Sorry Akeem and Semmi, but after this outing, I’m not sure I’m up for a third trip to America or Zamunda.
Overall Grade: C-
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content, language, and drug content
Directed by: Craig Brewer
Distributed by: Amazon Studios
Release Date: March 4, 2021
Running Time: 110 minutes