Updated: Mar 16, 2021
*This review may contain some spoilers for Coming To America 2.
I know on the show we complain A LOT about how so many sequels and reboots are coming out that no one asked for that it’s going to seem like an abrupt about face when I say, I (lowkey) always wanted to see a sequel to Coming To America. Eddie Murphy’s movies were always some of my favorite films growing up! Now they weren’t always winners; I’m looking at you Norbit. However, I could definitely count on an Eddie Murphy flick to be a quality way to spend an afternoon.
So, when it was announced that Coming To America was getting a sequel my interest was 100% piqued. As a cynical millennial, I’m not going to say I had super high hopes for the quality of this obvious nostalgia cash cow. But if the sequel gave me some strong performances, a few quotable lines, and a reappearance from Mr. Sexual Chocolate himself, Randy Watson, I was going to be satisfied.
And… well, it almost hit the mark.
The film is centered around now 50-something Prince Akeem who seems to have literally forgotten his whole character arc of the first movie when faced with his father’s impending death. You see, in Zamunda only kings can rule and even though Prince Akeem is in great health, he allows his father to taunt him with the shame at not having a son to carry his legacy. The whole “breaking backwards traditions, following your heart, and being true to yourself” lesson we got in the first movie is dead-er than James Earl Jones is about to be. Also, Wesley Snipes is a general from a neighboring kingdom who is threatening war with Zamunda because Prince Akeem didn’t marry his (still barking) sister.
When it’s revealed that Akeem has a bastard son in America who can take the throne when Akeem passes in another 30 years, this seems to be the cure all that the harried prince needs. General Izzi says he will only be satisfied by the blood of war or by the blood of marriage bonds, so off to America we go! Nevermind the fact that Zamunda seems to have more money and access to resources so it would stand to reason that they could just assassinate General Izzi and go on about their day.
Oh yeah, this movie has several plot holes in it so you may wanna watch your step.
Prince Akeem and Semmi find the somewhat bright but critically underachieving Lavelle Junson in like two seconds and they whisk him and his mother back to Zamunda. Lavelle needs to prove he’s got what it takes to be a prince of Zamunda but not like, with a DNA test, just a bunch of history and etiquette lessons followed by a battle of wills with a lion.
By the way Prince Akeem has three beautiful and fully capable daughters who save the day when their brother deserts the throne to go get married to his royal barber.
The movie recycles a lot of tired and problematic tropes like female on male rape being played for laughs and overqualified women having to prove themselves to underqualified men. The movie also seemed to stubbornly refuse to tread new ground by just rehashing old scenes from the original where there was opportunity to expand on the fish out of water narrative from Lavelle’s perspective. I also feel like the most interesting parts of the story are never really explored as side characters were not given more full motivations and back story.
Like, why waste Teyana Taylor and Wesley Snipes as potentially the baddest father-daughter duo of all time by making Teyana a vapid shell of a person and not a bomb ass femme fatale ready to kill Lavelle and Akeem for embarrassing her aunt 30 years ago?! Shari Headley’s queen Lisa and Leslie Jones’ baby mama Mary Junson are at odds one minute, and then they’re getting drunk and singing at the bar together a few minutes later? Okay so Leslie Jones’ character is actually totally onboard with being a part of an expanded family so being at odds is a bit of a stretch and I’m all for women not fighting each other over the dumb shit that men do… BUT THERE IS NO EXPLANATION FOR HOW LISA IS JUST OKAY NOW WITH HAVING HER HUSBAND’S RAPIST AND SEED OF RAPE LIVING IN HER HOME AND GETTING TITLES THEY DID NOT EARN--
I said I wasn’t gonna shit on this movie because I did ultimately really enjoy it but y’all… the plot holes are just so glaringly obvious and I want it to make sense so bad. Admittedly, everyone came together with good solid performances across the board. I found Tracy Morgan to be endearing which is always an accomplishment and Wesley Snipes was silly and dramatic in all the right ways. Award-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter had everyone dressed for the Gods and the celebrity cameos were equally on point. They even threw in a couple of cute quotable lines; when Lavelle told Semmi he dressed like a slave from the future I almost fell out the bed.
In a way, I suppose I got what I had hoped for which was a decent movie to spend an evening watching with friends but for all the money and time they spent putting this movie together we deserved more. 6.5/10
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