'Coming 2 America': Eddie Murphy's sad sequel

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By Joe Souber, First Year, Engineering & Mathematics

Coming 2 America (2021) is an uninspired, unoriginal, and only mildly entertaining sequel to the droll wit that makes the original film a classic of the genre.

If you are unaware of the plot of the first film Coming To America (1988), it centres on Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) of the fictitious country Zamunda travelling to Queens in order to find himself a princess to be a future queen of Zamunda.

The young prince wants to find an attractive, intelligent, free-thinking woman to be his wife, after rejecting the notion of arranged marriage. The film unfolds to be a cornucopia of the wry tongue-in-cheek humour that has come to be synonymous with Murphy throughout his career.

Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall in Coming 2 America (2021) | Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Unfortunately, the sequel offers us nothing in the way of the outstanding, original humour of the first. It seems as if the project was too concerned with releasing a sequel rather than an actual film. It seems almost no thought went into the plot of the movie, which is tantamount to an emaciated mimicry of the first film.

Set 33 years later, Coming 2 America features Prince Akeem once again, who is soon to be King of Zamunda due to the old-age of his father King Jaffe (James Earl Jones). Prince Akeem is still married to Lisa Mcdowell (Shari Headley) and now has three daughters, the princesses of Zamunda. The momentum of the film is that Prince Akeem has no male heir to ascend to the throne when he passes, something required by the Zamundan constitution. This problem is quickly overcome when Semmi (Arsenio Hall), Akeem’s right-hand man, tells Akeem he has a bastard son in Queen’s; a byproduct of the hilarious encounter between Akeem and Mary Junson (Leslie Jones) in the first film. Akeem and Semmi quickly set out to locate and retrieve Akeem’s child, Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler).

The film continues with Lavelle Junson getting geared up to be a Zamundan Prince, whilst the neighbouring country to Zamunda, Nextdooria – one of the few funny sentiments of the movie – prepares to wage war; Akeem finally unites the two nations by marrying his son to the daughter of Nextdoorian Warlord, General Izzi (Wesley Snipes).

The film features many celebrity cameos, like Teyana Taylor | Courtesy of IMDb

The film takes the pedestrian route of making this daughter subservient and entirely accommodating, lacking any form of dissenting voice, a character already exploited in the first film. Amongst the pure mediocrity of the script and plot, apart from the fantastic rendition of Get Off (Prince, 1991), we watch Prince Lavelle slowly fall in love with his chamber maid Meeka (KiKi Layne) and ignore the looming presence of his arranged marriage.  Ultimately, the prince and his Zamundan lover elope to Queens. The new King Akeem is forced to usher in change by reconciling with the constitution and allowing his eldest daughter to ascend to the throne. This change is something the film unsubtly touches on throughout the film, with the mention of gentrification in Queens and the struggle Lavelle Junson has faced in his life so far, due to his low socio-economic status. However, any attempt to include political satire or commentary is lost on the film.

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Coming 2 America had the foundations of a great film and could easily have been a cutting, modern commentary that instead is too concerned with celebrity cameos - namely Morgan Freeman - and resting on its laurels with a recurring Murphy performance. For me, the saddest part of all of this, as a lifelong fan of Murphy’s work, is that a small reference to Duke and Duke of Trading Places (1983) is one of the funnier scenes of the movie. It helped me to realise I was smirking (not laughing) at a pre-existing ensemble of jokes and characters from Murphy films of the past, rather than a new, fresh film. As with many sequels, this is one I wish hadn’t been made - some things are too sacred.

Featured: Amazon Studios, IMDb


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