” King Akeem may have forgotten his story, but the people of Zamunda have not.”
Story: It’s been 30 years since Prince Akeem went to Queens to find…his queen. Now, with the passing of his father, Akeem is now King. But one problem; he’s got three daughters. And Zamunda must have a male heir. Tradition, yada yada. “Luckily” for him, Akeem fathered a son before he met Queen Lisa. Gas up the jet, we’re going back to America!
Genre I’d Put It In: Serviceable Remakes Worth A Stream
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Sequel to the 80s comedy classic Coming To America.
Gotta Say: Is this a good movie? Hell no; it’s your basic direct-to-streaming comedy with a few good performers heading the cast. But is this a good time? Hell yes; Murphy and the cast deliver a satisfying blend of old school comedy with a touch of fourth wave feminism that’s worth the (almost) two hour run time. 2 may not be able to reach the comedic heights of its predecessor, but it makes for enjoyable streaming. In shuffling this film directly to Amazon, theater lockdowns may have done this film a favor.
A vast majority of the humor in 2 is based on how well you know the original film. But there’s some new stuff thrown in. For instance, the princess Akeem was initially slated to marry? Is from a militaristic country called…Nextdoria? You read that right. It’s so stupid it comes right back around to funny. Like with the rest of the film, it’s not hilarious, but it works well enough. And Wesley Snipes seems to be having the time of his life as their leader. It’s nice to see the man smile every once in a while. (Sorry Blade. Still love you.)
2 focuses on “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”. Young Akeem was idealistic and wanted to shake things up. But as the years went by, he became more and more like his father, entrenched in old ways and long-standing traditions. It would have been nice if Lisa had stood up to him more over the years, but it seems as though she became complacent as well. (At least I assume so, as she doesn’t get much to do or say til the halfway point. But I guess this movie wouldn’t be happening if Lisa kept reminding Akeem of how he was going to modernize his country.)
Fans of the original film will find lots of “I understood that reference” humor here, though the story is a little too dependent on callbacks. Yeah yeah, we all love the barbershop gang, that hyperkinetic preacher, Sexual MOTHERF-ING Chocolate, and all the other characters Eddie played back in that story. You’ll get to see every single one of them – and a vast majority of the original cast, no matter how small their part was – in 2. And that got me all misty; it’s wonderful that Murphy showed love to those folks, and pulled them into the sequel. He didn’t forget ’em, and that’s sweet. While these characters don’t hog too much of the screen time, the storyline is very similar to the original film (with a touch of Gurl Power), which makes this sequel feel almost too much like a throwback to another era. The second half saves the story from being antiquated, but boy howdy there’s one joke from the barbershop boys that harked back to Murphy’s uncomfortably LGBTQ-phobic past. It’s not much, but I had to mention it as the joke was a record-scratch moment that felt forced in and out of place at the same time.
Fans of America will be watching this film, and I don’t blame y’all. Hell, I caught this before I tucked into the WandaVision finale that also released today. I had to know how this film went down, y’all. And 2 goes down easy, though I’m finding that it’s not sticking in my brain like the original did. It’s serviceable entertainment that doesn’t tarnish the original. It would have been nice to have seen it rise to the same heights, but perhaps America was pure lightning in a bottle. 2 doesn’t do too badly with the occasional sparkle.
Grade: C+ (though folks who either haven’t seen the first one, or aren’t as familiar with the original’s story as they used to be, may not give this C a Plus. I LOVE YOU RANDY WATSON)
#Protip: There are outtakes, as well as JOHN FREAKIN’ LEGEND covering a particular favorite tune from the first film during the end credits. And there’s a super-brief scene at the end of it all that isn’t particularly drop-dead funny, but hey. Where else are you going right now?