by @holocronJosh for @FilmCodex
Aptly titled Coming 2 America, Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall team up once again for a follow-up to the classic 1988 comedy that, despite moments of spark, is a largely dull and misguided exercise in nostalgia meeting modern pop culture. The film sees Murphy return as Prince Joffer, who once again journeys to America in an effort to find his long lost son and stop an impending war with Nexdoria.
The original Coming to America is an 80s classic and widely regarded as one of the best comedies of all time. The premise is superb, the jokes land perfectly, and there’s a surprising backbone of heart coursing through the entire film. It’s sad to say then that, after anticipating a sequel to the adventures of Joffer and Semmi for so long, Coming 2 America largely disappoints. Fundamentally, it is the premise where the film goes awry. Eddie Murphy’s Joffer is largely given a backseat role in favor of the less interesting Lavelle, portrayed well by the talented Jermaine Fowler given what little he has to work with.
Coming 2 America largely hits the same beats as its predecessor but falls short in almost every regard and fails to build upon or offer a different take on what made the first film so great. The film’s dance and music sequences are overly long and feel out of place. The film largely takes place on Zamunda, but the opportunity to explore this setting in richer detail is sadly missed emphasis on music. And the heart and soul of the first film, largely driven by a charismatic performance by Murphy, is absent.
That being said, Coming 2 America is still a somewhat entertaining watch. The side cast of characters really excel, in particular Leslie Jones and Tracy Morgan as mother and uncle respectively of Lavelle. It’s also great to see James Earl Jones again and Wesley Snipes does a brilliant turn as an over-the-top villain (although he is sadly under-utilized as well). And, for the most part, the film is serviceable. The scenes are competently constructed, some of the gags are pulled off well, and it’s great to see the return of various returning characters, especially Mr. Clarence and the other barbershop goers. And the film concludes with a terrific concluding dance sequence.
It’s unfortunate that Coming 2 America never really finds its feet. Littered with ‘contemporary’ jokes and references that fall flat almost every time, the film at times feels tired and uninspired, a stark contrast to the raw originality of its predecessor.
Comedy 2 America has all of the ingredients to be a fantastic sequel to a beloved comedy classic, but none of these ingredients really come together. Bogged down by a misguided premise and uninspired retreads of its predecessor, the film’s saving grace is its leanings into nostalgia and some stand-out side performances. All in all, however, we were hoping for more.
Images courtesy of Amazon Prime Video