The Reel Review
This is the sequel to 1988’s Coming to America, the Eddie Murphy fish-out-of-water comedy about an African prince who travels to Queens, New York to find a wife. This time Akeem and his sidekick Semmi (Arsenio Hall) return to find his long lost son (Jermaine Fowler), whom he discovers he fathered during a drug-fueled night decades earlier with a tough talking party girl (Leslie Jones).
Simply put, in this case, what was charming and mildly funny in 1988 is not charming or funny at all in 2021. Not only is this paint-by-numbers retread of the original film predictable but it is BAD – like watching a couple of drunk uncles tell outdated, inappropriate jokes that are just embarrassing and no longer funny. Even eye-popping costumes from Oscar winner Ruth E. Carter (Black Panther) and oddly placed cameo appearances by En Vogue, Salt-N-Pepa, Morgan Freeman and Gladys Knight can’t distract us from what a mess this film is.
As in the original, Murphy and Hall again trot out several additional characters, and culturally insensitive, tired jokes and tired clichés, getting a pass by making THEM the joke. A few jokes land – most don’t. Nostalgic hardcore fans of Coming to America will recognize the rehashed scenes from the original comedy but they will make no sense to those without an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the first film. Even the post credit bloopers, typically the best part of a schlock-fest like this, are void of humor.
This tedious film does have two bright performances – by KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk, The Old Guard) as King Akeem’s eldest daughter, and Nomzamo Mbatha (Isibaya, All About Love) as Prince Lavelle’s hairstylist/love interest. But what a way to ruin the memory of a charming original film.
• The film’s scenes set in Zamunda were filmed in metro Atlanta, with hip-hop star Rick Ross’ estate doubling as the Zamundan royal palace.
• While many original cast members returned for the sequel, one that didn’t (other than some archival footage) was Madge Sinclair, as Queen Aoleon Joffer. Sinclair (The Lion King, Trapper John M.D.) died of in 1995 after a 13 battle with leukemia.
• Eddie Murphy’s daughter Bella Murphy, one of his ten children, plays his character’s middle daughter Omma in the film.