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Coming 2 America

Coming 2 America

Synopsis:
The African monarch Akeem learns he has a long-lost son in the United States and must return to America to meet this unexpected heir and build a relationship with his son.

Prince Akeem of Zamunda returns to America after discovering he has a son in . Three decades after travelling to America and meeting the love of his life Lisa (), Prince Akeem () is summoned to the deathbed of his father King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones), who reveals a secret kept from Akeem by his best friend Semmi () that on his trip to America Akeem had a drunken one night stand with Mary Junson () and has a bastard son named Lavelle (). With Akeem not having a male heir and with his position on the throne threatened by General Izzi (Wesley Snipes) of Nextdoria, Akeem returns to America to find Lavelle and groom him to be the new Prince of Zamunda.

Coming 2 America is the sequel to the original 1988 comedy directed by John Landis. The film is written by original co-writers Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield, along with Kenya Barris (black-ish), with Craig Brewer (Dolemite Is My Name) replacing Landis in the director's chair. Coming 2 America reunites leads Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Halls, who also play multiple supporting characters, most notably the returning barbers Mr. Clarence and Morris. The fellow returning cast members, who include Shari Headley, John Amos, Louie Anderson, and James Earl Jones, are joined by newcomers Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, and Wesley Snipes.

The plot of Coming 2 America is more or less a reverse of the original, as Akeem finds his bastard son Lavelle in Queens and brings him back to Zamunda to groom him to be his heir and marry Bopoto (Teyana Taylor), the daughter of Akeem's rival General Izzi, who seems ready to start a war with Zamuda at a moment's notice. Lavelle's sudden arrival is a disappointment for Akeem's oldest daughter Meeka (), who has aspirations for the throne, despite the laws forbidding a female heir. In addition, Lavelle begins to have second thoughts about going through with his arranged marriage when he begins to develop feelings for the royal groomer Mirembe (Nomzamo Mbatha).

The original Coming to America was a film that arrived at the tail end of Eddie Murphy's peak in the 1980s. The film was Murphy's second collaboration with director John Landis, following 1983's Trading Places, which was an early breakthrough role for Murphy. Reportedly, Murphy has something of a tumultuous relationship with Landis and when Murphy decided to make a three decades later sequel to Coming to America, he decided to give the directorial reigns to Craig Brewer, who just helped to somewhat revitalize Murphy's sagging career with 2019's Dolemite Is My Name.

Of course, as has been proven time and again, it is usually not a good idea to try and make a sequel to a film made over 30 years prior. While the original Coming to America had some social commentary about a wealthy African monarch seeing what life was like for African Americans, Coming 2 America can be seen as equal parts rehash and parody. While it was someone entertaining seeing Eddie Murphy and Arsenio hall bring back their multiple characters, they end up being overshadowed by the annoying and over-the-top performances from the likes of Leslie Jones and Tracy Morgan. It would also be sad if the final role for 90-year-old James Earl Jones is his very brief reprise as King Jaffe Joffer at the start of the film, even if the character gets to take part in his extravagant funeral narrated by Morgan Freeman, all while he is still breathing.

Ultimately, Coming 2 America ends up being an underwhelming attempt for Eddie Murphy to relive his 1980s peak years.

Coming 2 America is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video


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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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