'Coming 2 America' Doesn't Have Much Going for It Except Nostalgia

Directed by Craig Brewer

Starring Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Jermaine Fowler, KiKi Layne, James Earl Jones

BY Rosemary AkpanPublished Mar 5, 2021

"If something is good, why ruin it?"

Though this just may be a tongue-in-cheek meta statement on unnecessary sequels shared between two characters in Coming 2 America, it's proven right within two hours.

The long-awaited sequel to the 1988 classic Coming to America revisits the fictional land of Zamunda, with its original cast and a few new additional characters. Directly mimicking the first film, Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) returns to a now-gentrified Queens 30 years later with his trusted adviser Semmi (Arsenio Hall). Instead of looking for love, Akeem arrives back this time in search of his "bastard son" Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler). who's the next and only male heir to the throne. However, waiting back at home is the true heir Meeka (Kiki Layne), Akeem's eldest daughter, who has proven in numerous ways that she's more than capable of running the country of Zamunda. But with Akeem fixated on upholding sexist traditions and honouring the wishes of his late father, King Joffer (James Earl Jones), he is left with a tough decision.

There isn't much more to say about the film that hasn't already been seen in part one. Just like an ex trying to reignite an old flame, Coming 2 America can't resist highlighting fond memories from its past. If they aren't creating reimagined versions of infamous scenes like the royal bath, they're adding actual clips from the first film. It's endearing to watch at times, but it quickly becomes overwhelming and excessive. The sequel acts as a poor rehash of the original, and some parts even feel like a parody of 2018's Black Panther. It doesn't help that the costumes, although very beautiful, were designed by Academy Award winner Ruth E. Carter — the same person who designed the costumes for Black Panther.

Coming 2 America isn't completely insufferable. It's actually lovely seeing all the old faces (like, really old) and all the new ones too. Viewers get to catch up with folks from Nextdoria, My-T-Sharp barber shop, and McDowell's fast food restaurant (who just introduced their version of a Beyond Meat burger).

What also makes the film bearable, is the unexpected celebrity cameos — which we won't spoil here, but are consistently entertaining. But that's pretty much all Coming 2 America has to offer — 148 minutes of nostalgia and celebrity appearances.
(Amazon Studios)

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