Set in the lush and royal country of Zamunda, newly-crowned King Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and his trusted confidante Semmi (Arsenio Hall) embark on an all-new hilarious adventure that has them traversing the globe from their great African nation to the borough of Queens, New York – where it all began.
Thirty years have passed since the wedding to end all weddings closed Coming to America, John Landis and Eddie Murphy’s 1988 blockbuster comedy about an African prince who travels from the fictional African kingdom of Zamunda to New York to find a bride. A funeral lineup to rival Glastonbury occurs in the first act of this sequel, proving that the people of Zamunda still know something about spectacle.
Co-written by Kenya Barris (Girls Trip) and directed by Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow, Dolemite Is My Name), this follow-up reverses the first film’s fish-out-of-water plot, with Murphy’s Prince Akeem and sidekick Semmi (Arsenio Hall) returning, briefly, to Queens to retrieve Akeem’s secret “bastard son” Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler). The comedy doesn’t work quite as well this way around, though Fowler is extremely likable as a sweet-natured slacker, channeling the endearing guilelessness of Murphy’s original Prince Akeem.
Still, there are enough in-jokes and returning characters to keep fans happy (admirers of Randy Watson and his band Sexual Chocolate needn’t fret). A flashback involving Lavelle’s mum Mary (Ghostbusters’ Leslie Jones) and a pumpkin spice scented candle made me bark with laughter. The film proudly celebrates a wide swathe of Black culture; there’s a throwaway gag about cult TV sitcom Benson, a cameo from 90s R&B group En Vogue, and gorgeous Ankara-print costumes designed by Ruth E Carter (Black Panther).
In Zamunda, a woman cannot succeed to the throne or own her own business. To redress the original’s dated gender politics, Akeem’s three daughters (played by KiKi Layne, Akiley Love and Murphy’s real daughter Bella) challenge the sexism baked into their culture. It’s perhaps a milder film as a result, though its efforts feel sincere rather than pandering.
Coming 2 America is on Amazon Prime
Eddie Murphy as King Akeem
James Earl Jones as King Jaffe Joffer
Arsenio Hall as Semmi
Jermaine Fowler as Lavelle
Shari Headley as Lisa McDowell
Louie Anderson as Maurice
Wesley Snipes as General Izzi
Leslie Jones as Lavelle’s Mother
KiKi Layne as Akeem’s Daughter
John Amos as Cleo McDowell
Vanessa Bell Calloway as Imani Izzi