Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall are back in Coming 2 America which is set 30 years on from the events of Coming To America; with Prince Akeem now serving as King of Zamunda. However the mistakes of the past come back to trouble our king as he must see off a threat to the throne from bloodthirsty General Izzi (Wesley Snipes) by finding his unknowing heir (Jermaine Fowler) back in Queens New York. The film is directed by Craig Brewer who brought us the well-received return of Eddie Murphy to our screens in 2019’s Dolemite is My Name.
Several original cast favourites also return including King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones), Queen Lisa (Shari Headley), Cleo McDowell (John Amos), Maurice (Louie Anderson) and the motley barbershop crew. Also joining this star-studded ensemble are Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, Bella Murphy, Rotimi, KiKi Layne, Nomzamo Mbatha and Teyana Taylor.
It was always going to be a tall order to match the comic greatness of the original film; which is widely regarded as one of the best comedies of all time. This sequel never quite matches up to that greatness and the jokes don’t land quite as hard. What we do get is a fun ride with some action and musical sequences and we get to spend more time with these iconic characters that feels like meeting old friends again.
Murphy and Hall return to their character’s like a well used glove and it feels like no time has passed at-all since we last saw Prince Akeem and Semmi bumbling their way around New York. However this time a more fitting title would be ‘Coming To Zamunda’ as that is where the meat of the story takes places. Of-course we couldn’t leave New York without a visit to the famous barbershop and some classic Eddie Murphy multiple-role antics; although some of the humour here is firmly stuck in 80’s still and maybe doesn’t play as well today.
Our major new characters Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler) and his mother Mary Junson (Leslie Junson) are surprising yet welcome additions; Fowler in particular manages to hold his own which given the calibre of this cast is no easy feat. Wesley Snipes (who it was recently revealed auditioned unsuccessfully for the original film) is clearly having a ball playing the caricaturesque General Izzi; however he is under-used and the charecter is rather one-note. We are also treated to a host of surprise cameos (which we won’t spoil here), music acts and a fresh yet varied soundtrack which makes the film seem like one big party. It’s also great to briefly see James Earl Jones return as King Jaffe Joffer in what may be one of his final roles.
3/5 – A fun visit with some friends from the past – Recommended viewing!
Watch Coming To America on Amazon