John Landis, Eddie Murphy, and Arsenio Hall gave the world the pinnacle of comedy thirty years ago with their fantastic film Coming To America about an African Prince who travels to America to find love and romance. This movie is hands down one of the funniest films of all time and has a ton of heart - not to mention iconic characters, memorable lines of dialogue, and genuine messages about love. Some three decades later, the entire gang got back together for a sequel with John Landis replaced by Craig Brewer (Dolemite Is My Name, Hustle And Flow, Black Snake Moan) for what results in one of the worst movies in recent memory, void of any real humor, inspiration, or importance. Coming 2 America would rather showcase dumbfounded music numbers and present the same exact jokes and nostalgic characters in a PG-13 setting than tell any real story or further any development of these characters that everyone has come to love over the years. Luckily the first film doesn't have to be associated with this abomination of a movie.
Watch Coming 2 America on Amazon Prime.
Coming 2 America begins the same way the original film began as it plays catch up, revealing Akeem (Murphy) and Lisa (Shari Headley) still married with three daughters now and King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) about to pass down his role of King of Zamunda to his only son. The usual rose bearers and royal staff are still in play as is Akeem's best friend Semmi (Hall). In comes General Izzi (Wesley Snipes), the brother of Imani (the woman who barked like a dog and stood on one leg in the original film), who is the leader of Nextdoria (they're not even trying) and at odds with Zamunda. Izzi's goal is to take over Zamunda and get one of Akeem's daughter's to marry one of his sons because Akeem has not produced a son of his own to take over the throne, even though his daughters are more than capable in every aspect to lead.
This results in a 30-year long-secret being revealed that Akeem and Semmi hooked up with two women after that original montage at the Queens bar in the first film that led to Akeem impregnating a woman named Mary (Leslie Jones), who had Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler), who is now the apparent heir to the royal throne of Zamunda. This sets Akeem and Semmi back in Queens where they run into their old friends and find Lavelle to let him know the truth. All too easily, Lavelle and his mother Mary accept the situation and head back to Zamunda where Lavelle can train to become the Prince by way of outlandish and truly dumb obstacles. By the end, there is one more trip back and forth to Queens and Zamunda where everything is wrapped into a tight, pretty bow that makes no sense whatsoever.
It's extremely difficult to take in the sheer awfulness of this movie, especially when Brewer and Murphy knocked it clear out of the park with Dolemite Is My Name. That film had fantastic layered characters, wonderfully funny dialogue, and a story that meant something. None of this is evident in Coming 2 America. Instead, it's two long boorish, and angering hours that try desperately and forcefully to tell the exact same jokes and convey the same actions as the first film. Only this time it is so dumb-downed to keep its PG-13 rating that all jokes that killed in the original are plain terrible, forced, and unfunny to the point of major eye-rolls, whether it be a royal private being cleaned or a wild lion farting in the wilderness - none of it is good or entertaining. Adding insult to injury, there are many moments where the film plays out like a trite music award show where the characters legitimately introduce music acts to the camera, including En Vogue, who come out and sing Whatta Man, but they replace the word "man" with "king." This is only the tip of the iceberg too as it just gets worse with each painstaking minute that passes by.
Whatever magic, comedy, or charm the first film had is completely lost and non-existent in this truly terrible sequel. If there are a couple of praises to be given, it should be to Tracy Morgan's short yet funny performance as the Uncle that raised Lavelle and to Leslie Jones who completely committed to her comical role. There is no celebration to be had with Coming 2 America as the film, story, and once-loved characters cave in on themselves with unfunny jokes that have been retrofitted to appease all ages, along with trying to do the same gags all over again but with less wit and appeal. It says something when the four guys at the barbershop in the first film conjured up some of the funniest moments in cinema history and thirty years later couldn't come up with one solid joke that garnered even a smirk, but instead would rather just call Akeem names like Mufasa for cheap laughs. It's a sad day for comedy. Fortunately, this does not tarnish the original film in any way.