Does the “Coming 2 America” sequel live up to expectations? Yes, it does.
It’s a bonafide rib-tickler and director Craig Brewer can rest easy knowing he’s managed to mirror the success of the 1988 hit, “Coming to America”, which was directed by John Landis.
Unlike the first movie, which was penned by the inimitable Eddie Murphy, this one is taken forward by the illustrious Kenya Barris (“Black-ish”), Barry W. Blaustein (“Saturday Night Live”, “The Nutty Professor”) and David Sheffield (“Saturday Night Live”, “Coming to America” and “The Nutty Professor”).
That’s comedy gold, right there.
As far as the treatment of the story goes, it doesn’t stray too far from the original. In fact, the storyline runs almost parallel to it.
Aside from Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, Shari Headley and John Amos, returning as the original cast, the casting of Wesley Snipes, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, Jermaine Fowler, Bella Murphy (Eddie’s real-life daughter), KiKi Layne and Rotimi, takes the star-clout to the next level.
Of course, seeing our very own Nomzamo Mbatha make her Hollywood debut as Mirembe, the royal groomer, was a proud, misty-eyed moment.
After the passing of Zamunda’s King Jaffe Joffe (Earl Jones), King Akeem (Murphy) finds himself weighed down by several issues, the most pressing - finding an heir. Blessed with three warrior daughters - Princess Meeka Joffer (Layne), Princess Omma (Bella) as well as Princess Tinashe (Akiley Love) - this problem is resolved when he learns of a long-lost son he had with Mary Junson (Jones) on his first trip to America.
And so King Akeem, accompanied by his trusted royal aide, Semmi (Hall), return to Queens, New York, to find the unsuspecting Lavelle Junson, and prepare him for his birthright.
Meanwhile, General Izzi (Snipes) of Nextdoria, still aggrieved by King Akeem’s rejection of his sister in favour of Queen Lisa (Headley), wants to form some kind of alliance.
Should his request to have his daughter or son married into the Joffer family be rejected, he’s willing to go to war.
When King Akeem returns to Zamunda with Prince Lavelle, his mother and over-the-top uncle, Reem (Morgan) in tow, chaos unfolds.
His eldest daughter, who would make for a fitting ruler of Zamunda, is upset to find that that won’t be the case anymore.
And Prince Lavelle, in trying to adapt to life as a future king, strikes a chord with Mirembe, a strong beautiful woman who speaks her mind, challenges the norm and follows her heart.
It isn’t long before King Akeem, while grooming his son to one day take over the throne, is forced to address a few harsh realities about the antiquated rules of Zamunda, more so when Lavelle decides to, like his father, follow his heart instead of tradition.
Murphy, who clearly has been drinking from the fountain of youth as he hasn’t aged one iota, is at his comedic best.
Although his character dwells in a more mature space, there’s plenty of room for humour, especially when he slips into the skin of soul singer Randy Watson, the local barber Mr. Clarence as well as the Jewish barbershop customer, Saul.
He isn’t the only one, either.
Hall is also a hoot as Reverend Brown, witchdoctor Baba as well as Morris (Mr. Clarence’s right-hand barber).
Mbatha is most graceful in her role and shares great chemistry with rising Hollywood star, Fowler, who adds a refreshing dynamic to the narrative.
The script is witty and laden with plenty of side-splitting moments.
At the same time, it is underpinned by an unmistakable empowering female trope.
Be sure to keep a lookout for interesting cameos by Davido and Rick Ross, among others, and prepare to laugh yourself silly!
“Coming 2 America” is available at cinemas, nationwide, and is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.