A royal failure.
“Hollywood is full of sequels nobody asked for. If something is good, why ruin it?”
That’s an actual line in Coming 2 America (2021), the sequel that comes 33 years after the beloved comedy classic, Coming to America (1988). By the way, check out my review for that movie, here. While I’m sure that line was thrown into the script as a cute attempt at being tongue in cheek, it unfortunately serves as an ironically cruel and accurate description of what anyone watching this movie inevitably thought before going into this movie. By the time viewers reach the point in Coming 2 America where that line is said, the immediate reaction to hearing it is going to be, “I KNOW! Why is any of this movie happening right now?” I sincerely hope that this is the last piece of evidence Hollywood needs to be convinced that making an unnecessary sequel to a 30-year-old movie has never been and never will be a good idea.
Coming 2 America catches up with Akeem Joffer 30 years after his fateful trip to New York City, where he fell in love with Lisa McDowell. Now happily married with three daughters, Akeem is crowned King of Zamunda after the passing of his father, Jaffe Joffer. When General Izzi, the military leader of Nexdoria, threatens the people of Zamunda, Akeem travels back to New York to find his long-lost son so that he can marry Izzi’s daughter and unite the two countries.
I’m just going to cut right to the chase: We did not need this movie. If a sequel to Coming to America were going to be made, it should have been done so during the early 1990s and had a simple yet sweet plot, perhaps revolving around Lisa’s family travelling to Zamunda to celebrate the birth of her and Akeem’s first child. That could have been a fun hour and 45 minutes of culture shocked shenanigans that while not being as great as the first, would still be a harmless adventure that made sense for the characters. Basically, the opposite of the sequel we ended up getting. In preparation for this movie I recently rewatched the first one and it’s still great! It works so well because it’s a romantic-comedy that has an earnest charm and memorably entertaining characters. While I appreciate that the entire original cast is back for the sequel, subjecting them to this flimsy excuse of a movie is borderline unbearable. The premise is razor-thin plot wise, and honestly feels like it’s grasping at straws. The plot of Akeem having a long-lost son makes no sense based on anything established in the first movie and it automatically cheapens this sequel because it solidifies it as nothing more than a weak excuse to cash in on a sequel that no one wanted and wasn’t needed.
Coming 2 America doesn’t feel like a real, organic movie. Like most sequels and reboots that come decades after the original, it’s a mediocre rehash of the first movie just with slightly updated references and lame complaints about how difficult it is to navigate 2021 because of the “climate.” Ugh…I am so sick of “you can’t do or say anything nowadays without offending anyone!” rants in movies. It’s so tiresome. Umm, speaking of ick, can we talk about how the entire plot basically hinges on the fact that Leslie Jones’ character, Mary, date raped Akeem back during his original trip to New York? How did that very important plot point get past the first draft? Who thought this was okay? In so many ways, Coming 2 America did NOT read the room when thinking about what kind of comedy movie they wanted to make in 2021.
Furthermore, this isn’t even a comedy. To call it so would be charitable. The first one is a classic fish out of water story full of naïveté and lovable charisma. This is rather bland and thoroughly unfunny. I literally didn’t laugh once. There were so many times where I drifted off due to boredom and shockingly enough, the movie clearly became just as bored. When the movie LITERALLY just plays scenes from the first movie for A WHILE? Like, that’s how thin on plot Coming 2 America is and how badly it spins its wheels for the egregious nearly two-hour runtime. Even when they went back to New York it was only for a brief five minutes! The rest of the movie is spent in Zamunda teaching Akeem’s son, Lavelle, how to be a prince. So, essentially Coming 2 America is a lazy rip-off of the original Coming to America, mashed up with The Princess Diaries (2001).
One of the big problems with Coming 2 America is that it puts so much focus on this new character, Lavelle, and he’s not at all fun or intriguing. As a lead character he isn’t offering very much in terms of entertainment. Really, he’s just a pale (but much worse) imitation of Akeem and Jermaine Fowler doesn’t bring a fraction of the lovableness to the character as Eddie Murphy did to Akeem. Speaking of, Murphy completely phones in his performance this time around. All the comedy and charm of his original portrayal of Akeem is gone and all that’s left is what more or less amounts to a soulless cameo. Actually, the entirety of the original cast is treated the same, paraded around the screen but not given any solid material to work with. Even Akeem’s daughters, these three charismatic, beautiful, intelligent, strong characters that I was SO interested in spending more time with, are pushed to the sidelines in favour of Lavelle’s cringeworthy antics. They were so cool and such a wasted opportunity, definitely the biggest disappointment of Coming 2 America. You know what wasn’t a disappointment thought? The amazing costumes designed by the brilliant Ruth E. Carter. The costumes in this movie are positively STUNNING. They were the highlight of the movie and honestly, truly the only reason worth watching. You know what? Don’t even bother watching the movie. Just Google the beautiful costumes.
Honestly, this is a no for me. You are more than welcome to give Coming 2 America a hard pass. This misguided sequel only tarnishes the integrity, spirit, and heart of the original, offering nothing of real value. To the movie’s credit it at least attempted do something kind of new here and there, but it was never particularly interesting or necessary so it ultimately just fell flat. Sorry Coming 2 America, but Coming TO America will always be the true king.
Have you seen Coming 2 America? Are you a fan of the original movie?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!