After 33 years, Prince Akeem returns with members of the original cast along with a some notable newcomers. Is Eddie Murphy’s reprisal of Akeem worth your time?
Joining Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is his righthand man, Semmi (Arsenio Hall); his father, King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones); Purveyor of fast food that is definitely not like anything MacDonald’s has to offer, Cleo McDowell (John Amos), Akeem’s better half, Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley), and a few other surprise returnees. New to the cast are Leslie Jones, Tracey Morgan, Wesley Snipes, Kiki Layne, Nomzamo Mbatha, and Jermaine Fowler. There are a number of surprise appearances from notable actors and musical guests as well.
With the help of some creative editing and revisions, Akeem learns he has a son. The law of Zamunda clearly states that only a male heir can ascend to the throne and without one, Akeem places his kingdom in danger of conflict and war with neighboring Nextdoria and its aspiring leader, General Izzi, played by Snipes. So, once again, Akeem and Semmi board the royal jet and travel to the Queens to find what they’re looking for.
The second installment is lacking in singular purpose and that’s exactly what made the first movie so enjoyable. In “Coming to America”, Akeem rebels against the crown and its traditions, flies to the U.S. to find true love, finds true love, and returns to Zamunda with an intelligent, loving bride who proves to be his equal.
“Coming 2 America” is all over the place: Zamunda has not moved past its patriarchic ways; Akeem’s eldest daughter (Layne) has trained for his position and is written off for most of the movie in place of Akeem’s newly discovered heir. Lavelle (Fowler), Akeem’s son, is enticed by the position of power but falls for someone of lesser rank loses interest in becoming a prince. If only the movie was this straight forward. There’s a big difference between the humorous scenes in the original movie and the scenes that are made to evoke laughter in the sequel. For example, Lavelle is challenged to pass a princely test before he is allowed to officially earn the title of prince. For one test, he must retrieve the whiskers of a lion. The “princely tests” were out of place, bordered on slapstick, and muddled the narrative. The humor in “Coming to America” was centered around Akeem’s pursuit of Lisa, the New York culture of the 1980s, and the creation of some truly dynamic characters. While Leslie Jones brought a lot of humor with her character, Tracey Morgan detracted from the story and slowed the narrative down with picking arguments with many of the characters he encountered. It all seemed a little silly and without focus at times. The narrative could have been simplified and it would have been better if it had been kept as a simple story.
“Coming to America” is one of my all-time favorite comedies. As a fan of the first, I had to watch the sequel and I enjoyed parts of the second installment. But a lot of the jokes were forced and the story needed more editing. If you were a big fan of the first movie, check out the “Coming 2 America”. If you’re a casual fan, I’d skip it and find another movie to watch.
What did you think of the film? How many stars would you give to “Coming 2 America”? Let us know in the comments below.
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