HOLLYWOOD—Can you believe it has been nearly 33 years since the 1988 comedy “Coming to America” starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall hit theaters and became a cult classic. It remains to this day as one of the funniest comedies of all times. Well, it is 2021 and the highly anticipated sequel, “Coming 2 America” has arrived with all your favs from the original and plenty of new faces for this sequel. Look, I know the question everyone is asking: is this a great movie? No. It doesn’t have the flash and originality that the first movie had nearly 30 years ago.
What the movie does exceptionally well is deliver the laughs. This is a comedy, and if you’re looking to laugh “Coming 2 America” makes sure that the audience is entertained with bellyaches and tears in your eyes to the point where you have to catch your breath because you are laughing so much that you need a moment to recoup. Major kudos goes to Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall who just have perfect chemistry as Akeem and Semmi. The banter between these two and their ability to use that chemistry with their interaction with other characters, new and old and there are plenty in this sequel.
Now, let’s talk about the narrative, which finds Akeem (Murphy) returning to America to locate his lost-long son, Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler), who Akeem did not know existed. Lavelle has been raised by his goofy, hilarious and just blunt of a mother, Mary (Leslie Jones). I will admit Mary seems like Leslie Jones playing Leslie Jones, but if I’m being honest I did not care one single bit because the laughs blew me away. I mean that first interaction between Lavelle, Akeem, Mary and Semmi, is so damn funny just thinking about it gives me the giggles.
We learn via a flashback, that Mary and Akeem met during that infamous night at the club upon their arrival in America, where he was drugged and didn’t recall sleeping with Mary and getting her pregnant before he met and wooed Lisa (Shari Headley). Akeem learns about his son by his dying father King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) who delivers the news to his son while on his death bed. Cue the journey back to America and all the laughs that comes with it as Lavelle learns he is the son of a prince and that his dad is loaded with money and that per Zumunda tradition, only a son can become heir to the throne and Akeem and Lisa have only bore daughters.
Failure to produce a son would lead to the Zamunda facing a vicious takeover by their neighbor Nexdoria, led by General Izzi portrayed by Wesley Snipes. Look, it’s a sequel and sequels tend to be bigger than its predecessor and the amount of characters in “Coming 2 America” is huge. So much to the point you cannot keep up with all the original players and all the news players. There is a thing of having too much which is another hiccup in the plot of “Coming 2 America.” Focusing on key characters more than just throwing everyone possible into the plot would have delivered a smoother transition of the story.
There is a bit of strife between Lavelle who is not sure if he wants to be King of Zamunda and fights to craft his own path of life even if it is against his father’s wishes. Murphy’s reprisal of Randy Watson, the soul singer with a voice and a face only a mother could love is hilarious. Murphy also reprises his roles of the barbershop buddies Mr. Clarence and Saul. The same echoes for Hall he reprises his role as Reverend Brown, Morris, Babba and the ugly girl from the club delivers some gut-punching laughs.
There are some epic cameos from a string of actors and actresses that I will not spoil to the people. The jokes land time and time again, and people can expect “Coming 2 America,” to become a classic just like its predecessor. Better than the original, no, but it does a fine job ensuring that the viewer is entertained and most of all you get laughter, something we desperately need in our lives right now.