From the moment I heard the Coming to America sequel was going to be released, my feelings about the movie flip flopped. At first, I figured the sequel was too little too late. After all, about three decades had passed since the first installment was released. When the teaser trailer for Coming 2 America dropped this past Christmas, I was excited and wanted to see the film, but the story line put a bad taste in my mouth. However, when I watched the full official trailer for the film and found out that it would premiere on Amazon Prime on Mar 5, 2021 (the same day as Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak’s Silk Sonic single), I couldn’t wait to see it. This past Friday, I finally got to watch the movie I’d been waiting to see for the longest time.
It was a hot ass mess.
***WARNING: THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SLIGHT SPOILERS!! IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED COMING 2 AMERICA YET—WHICH I DON’T RECOMMEND YOU DO—DO NOT READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE!!***
In Coming 2 America, the sequel picks up 30 years after the original film left off. Before King Joffe’s (James Earl Jones) passing, he informs Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) that he has an illegitimate son (Jermaine Fowler) in Queens, NY. Since Akeem and his wife Princess Lisa (Shari Headley) only had daughters and there can be no female successors to the throne, King Joffe implores Akeem to find his son and have him become the next heir to the throne of Zamunda, before the vengeful General Izzi (Wesley Snipes) can stage a coup against Akeem. With that, Akeem and his best friend Semmi (Arsenio Hall) pack up and head back to America, this time to find the son he never knew he had.
*Sigh* This movie has so many problems. Let’s start with the characters. First of all, I hated how Akeem was portrayed in Coming 2 America. Remember the kind, strong yet sensitive, progressive aristocrat we came to know and love in the original Coming to America? Life and age changed him for the worst. In this film, a now 50-something year old Akeem is weak, set in his ways, and backward in his thinking. In all fairness, this character change was purposely done for the story line, but I still didn’t like it.
Semmi, who was Akeem’s best friend first and servant second in the original film, acts more subservient in this version, and has very little to do. Lisa has even less to do, and doesn’t get a chance to shine until near the end of the film. She doesn’t even have any interactions with her own father (John Amos) in the entire movie and little to no connection with her children! Come to think of it, Lisa was basically there to look pretty…the exact opposite of the reason Akeem married her! No wonder Allison Dean (who played Lisa’s baby sister Patrice) wanted nothing to do with this turkey. New characters Lavelle, Mary (Leslie Jones, who plays Lavelle’s mother), and Uncle Reem (Tracy Morgan, who plays Lavelle’s uncle) have some chuckle worthy moments, but it’s nothing to write home about. That brings me to the next issue.
This movie wasn’t funny.
In the original Coming to America, the comedy was organic. Everything flowed and the jokes landed with ease. Of course, the first film featured Eddie in his prime, and back in those days, it took nothing for him to make anyone buckle over with laughter. Coming 2 America, on the other hand, is full of predictable slapstick comedy that tries way too hard to make you laugh…and fails miserably. I may have giggled about eight times the entire near two hour run time. The only thing remotely hilarious about this movie was the laughingly bad CGI. I knew once I saw the PlayStation 2-esque intro that Coming 2 America wasn’t going to be all it was cracked up to be. And don’t get me started on that “Lavelle vs. the Lion” scene. God, that was fake as all hell.
Last, but certainly not least, is the plot. *Deep sigh* I had issues with this plot from get go, but I was willing to overlook my reservations and give this movie a chance. After watching Coming 2 America, I see that my misgivings about the story line were right. As I mentioned before, Akeem learns that he has an estranged son in Queens that was apparently conceived during his time in America 30 years ago. What I haven’t mentioned yet is how Lavelle came to be. Anyone that’s seen the first installment of Coming to America remembers the classic club scene, right? Well, it turns out that Semmi, who was desperate for some poontang, brought Mary back to his and Akeem’s apartment. Mary basically got Akeem high on some strong ganga and proceeded to have her way with him while he was too intoxicated to even know what was happening. In short, Mary raped Akeem.
On top of that, once Akeem gets word that he has an estranged son in Queens, he just takes his dying father and crazy shaman’s (Arsenio Hall; he played multiple characters in this installment as well) word for it, hops on a plane to meet him, and immediately declares him Prince Lavelle of Zamunda! Are blood tests non-existent in this universe? Mary even admitted she was a bit of a ho back in the day (her words). Wouldn’t it be smart to make absolutely sure Lavelle is your son before throwing titles and money at him?
Another reason I didn’t care for this story line is that it commits one of my biggest pet peeves: continuity errors. According to Semmi’s story, he and Akeem took Mary back to their apartment right after they left the club that night. However, if you watch the club scene in the original Coming to America film, you’ll see that directly after the fellas left, both Akeem and Semmi run into Mr. Clarence (the main barber), who suggests they go to the Black Awareness Pageant to find a nice girl, where they end up meeting Lisa. There was no lustful, high-as-a-kite Mary tagging along for the ride, and no inebriated, non-consensual sex afterward. On top of everything else, this God-awful plot created a flaw in the canon’s continuity. Allow Ms. Annie Wilkes to explain to y’all why continuity is important.
I’ve seen so many sequels do this exact same thing, especially if it’s been years since the original film was released. Some examples include The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Bad Boys For Life, and Why Did I Get Married Too? (they were notorious with it). Writers, if you need to go back and watch the previous movie again before writing the script, please do that. There’s no shame in it.
Another thing that irked me about this script is how ass-backward Zamunda is. I mean, I knew the country was rooted in tradition, but damn! Not only is the country against women ruling, they’re also against women running their own businesses! WTF? Score one point for Wakanda.
To add insult to injury, Akeem was looked upon by his father and a few other characters as being less of a man because all his legitimate children were girls. Damn shame. Akeem’s character was weak this go around, but it wasn’t because he had daughters instead of sons. Part of the reason is because he didn’t stand up for his girls, namely his oldest daughter, who was clearly better suited to be the successor to the throne. Again, the plot acknowledges all this, but I reiterate: the story line sucked.
What really kills me about this movie is that director Craig Brewer, who directed quality films Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan, took the reigns of Coming 2 America and it still sucked, despite the fact that he and Eddie made magic happen with Dolomite Is My Name a year and half earlier! I don’t think the reason this film failed is completely on Craig’s shoulders, however. There’s plenty of blame to go around. I think between the fact that this movie was made 30 years too late, the bad writing, forced jokes and horrible special effects, Coming 2 America was destined to be a disaster.
I know what y’all are thinking: “Was there anything you liked about the movie?” Not much. Lavelle was cute. Leslie Jones was the funniest character in the movie, which isn’t saying much in this case. I liked that they had a character in the film that was a descendant of the Duke family (Duke & Duke from Trading Places), and the Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate scene made me smile. That’s about it. I’ll give Coming 2 America credit for one thing: it wasn’t quite as horrid as the 2015 Vacation reboot. Good lord, that movie was trash.
In conclusion, skip this one. Watch the original Coming to America movie instead, and keep all your happy memories of the ’80s classic. The only thing Coming 2 America is good for is ruining the franchise’s canon and pissin’ off the viewer that wasted two hours of his/her day. And Mr. Murphy, if you are indeed serious about doing a third installment of this series, here’s what I have to say to that:
—Written by Nadiya
So what did y’all think about Coming 2 America? Did you enjoy it? Did you agree that it was a bad film? If you enjoyed the movie, what did you like about it? If you didn’t enjoy the film, what didn’t you like? Do you believe the movie was made too late, or do you believe the length of time between the original and the sequel didn’t matter? What did you think about the story line regarding Akeem’s son? Did you like it or did you not, and why? Let me know in the comments section!