From the “Coming 2 Nostalgia” File…Both Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall have remarked that they never intended to make a sequel to “COMING TO AMERICA.” Yet they decided to do one eventually because over the years, fans of the film kept asking if there would be one and they felt compelled to catch up to Prince Akeem and Lisa and everyone they could find in Queens and Zamunda. Sometimes it’s best to leave well enough alone. COMING 2 AMERICA was probably one of those times.
So the story goes a little something like this: It’s been 30 years since Prince Akeem returned to Zamunda from Queens to marry his true love, Lisa. In that time, Zamunda has prospered and Akeem and Lisa have had three daughters who are intelligent, articulate, and skilled hand-to-hand fighters who have been trained from birth to serve crown and country. Meanwhile, Zamunda’s peaceful existence is threatened by their neighboring nation next door: Nextdoria……Yeah, no one consulted me on the screenplay, because that joke’s so old it has roots.Nextdoria is run by General Izzi (played by the scene stealing and scenery chewing Wesley Snipes) who is brother to Imani Izzi (whose role is reprised by Vanessa Bell Calloway) who we last saw hopping on one foot and barking like a dog. Izzi has been working his way into a two part alliance with Zamunda that is marrying off his son to Akeem’s oldest daughter Meeka or, failing that, assassinate Akeem and invade Zamunda in a military takeover.
Izzi is preferring marriage because traditionally only men are allowed to ascend to the throne in Zamunda. Princess Meeka has issues with that and being married off to keep the peace. Izzi has been putting pressure on Akeem to agree to this, and just as there looks like there isn’t a solution – Akeem discovers he has a son and heir……in Queens. And therein begins the tale. Now, my thoughts, which you’re free to ignore…Once the obvious nostalgia beats, and touchstones to some of Eddie’s older films run through (spoiler alert example: “TRADING PLACES” and COMING 2 AMERICA exist in the same timeline in Eddie Murphy’s universe), the film doesn’t really break fresh ground and has telegraphed all the endings to the plot points long before we get there. The story starts out funny, but a lot of bits get recycled more than a few times fairly early and run kinda long. The cast gamely tries their best with what they have, but the story’s scattered a bit and the main plot of the story honestly could’ve been left out and the “AMERICA” parts could’ve gone into building a tighter story around Akeem’s issues in Zamunda and the growth of his character in a different way. Though I guess with “BLACK PANTHER” still very fresh in everyone’s memory, it might’ve looked like a complete riff on Wakanda’s internal strife but with jokes.
Now that’s not to say COMING 2 AMERICA is a bad film, but it probably picked the best venue which was on a streaming platform as a more or less glorified TV movie sequel to a classic original. Funny and nostalgic in a lot of places but stuck in trying to pull from the nostalgia shelf so much it falls flat by not finding a solid focus for its multiple storylines which could’ve all been fleshed out over a couple of films. So watch it for the nostalgia, but lower your expectations a bit because the story by Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield, and Justin Kanew is pretty much depending on milking the nostalgia and gimmicks from the first film for its hook more than pulling together a tighter story trying to avoid “BLACK PANTHER” comparisons.