Review: Coming 2 America

By Zak Labiad
09 Mar,2021

Eddie Murphy returns as the amiable Prince Akeem in Coming 2 America, a safe but serviceable sequel to his 1988 cult comedy classic that shares the same name. Picking up 30 years after its horse-drawn fairy-tale ending, Akeem’s superlunary ‘on fleek’ existence in Zamunda with his American sweetheart Lisa (Shari Headley) and their three shady warrior daughters, is interrupted by the revelation of a dying King Joffer (James Earl Jones) that Akeem did indeed ‘sow [his] royal oats’ on his ’88 trip to America. His adult son is living unbeknownst to him in Queens, and with the need to follow patriarchal tradition that only male heirs may rule Zamunda, Akeem and Semmi (Arsenio Hall) are at it again, flying back to New York, this time on their filial heir-orientated quest.



Murphy and Hall bring bravura performances to their leading parts as well as their outrageous multi-role fan-favourites: the make-up wizardry remains impressive to this day, and any scene featuring the barber-shop gang is a guaranteed laugh. It will make you wish we were given a spin-off instead, featuring bantering barber Clarence and co. Depending on your relationship with the original film, an endearment towards these characters will elevate your viewing experience, spicing up a mostly standard coming-of-age tale. When the jokes land it is a joy; when they don’t, it can feel like you’re witnessing a reunion of a talented cast who feature in a story spread too thinly for their parts as its focus lies with newer characters. Jermaine Fowler plays Lavelle Junson, Murphy’s son, the latest fish-out-of-water, bewildered by his stay in Zamunda just as his father was in America. Leslie Jones plays his mother, loud and vivacious Mary, a likeable addition, if an extension of Jones’s SNL self – how they came to conceive their son is told in a funny flashback with the aid of de-aging technology. Both bring freshness amongst pleasingly familiar gags and call-backs.




Director Craig Brewer expands on the original’s lampooning of Western perceptions regarding African identity by exploring (albeit glibly) the long-awaited mythos of Zamunda, its rich culture exhibited through flashy song-and-dance numbers, emblazoned by Ruth E. Carter’s artful Africana costume designs. Its vibrant world-building is not enough, however, to hide the hollow romance between Fowler’s prince and Nomzamo Mbatha’s Mirembe, but still withstands as a compelling backdrop for Akeem’s struggle to shirk his father’s ways and remember the inspired forward-thinking prince he once was. A bolstered female presence in this outing is welcome, contrasting nicely with Wesley Snipes’ ‘crazy-ass’ Nexdorian General Izzi, an unhinged macho militarian who is both amusing and terrifying in his personification of Zamundan patriarchy, thus working as a worthy foil to Akeem’s struggle to honour tradition whilst brining Zamunda into the 21st century.


Despite being stuffed silly with fan-service, Coming 2 America is still worth the watch, offering breezy entertainment that gives its all-black-cast a chance to step outside cinema’s obsession with slavery narratives, continuing the original’s celebration of blackness from a time pre Black Panther.


Zamunda forever!