Coming 2 America
Eddie Murphy was one of the the biggest movie stars of the 80s and Coming to America remains one of his most cherished comedies. After some failed attempts at restarting his career in the 2010s, he finally had a hit with Netflix’s Dolemite is My Name. The key to this success was the collaboration between Murphy and director Craig Brewer, who have re-teamed for this “legacyquel”: a term defined by ScreenCrush to describe the recent Hollywood movies in which “beloved ageing stars reprise classic roles and pass the torch to younger successors.”
Akeem, now the king of Zamunda, has no successor to this throne, as the patriarchal traditions of his country’s monarchy means his three daughters are ineligible. Reflecting upon his initial stateside venture with his confidante Semmi (a returning Arsenio Hall), the king realises that his indulgences in New York may have resulted in a bastard son. So, the pair head back to Queens to find his heir.
Utilising very convincing de-ageing tech to take the protagonists back in time to the nightclub scene of the first film – in which the prince and his aide meet a string of eccentric women – there’s an extra part where Akeem hooks up with the ebullient Mary (Leslie Jones) who births Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler), a good-natured street-smart guy who struggles with the revelation of his biological father and their differences in ambition.
From the latest Halloween to Bill & Ted 3, “legacyquels” are not just a passing of the baton, but they also offer the opportunity to acknowledge cultural change. Coming 2 America demonstrates progressive thinking and manages to draw tasteful humour from nostalgia. With the downshift to a 12 age certificate, some may bemoan Murphy for growing out of the sort of comedy that made him famous. But this comedy is evidence that he doesn’t need to be edgy to be funny.
Even though it can’t maintain the novelty of the original and trades the palpably seasonal film look for a flat-televisual aesthetic, there’s still plenty of appeal in watching these old characters. They’re aided by terrific new additions such as Wesley Snipes, playing a military leader who’s essentially a Disney villain come to life, as well as plethora of great cameos. Fowler and Kiki Layne, who plays Akeem’s oldest daughter, earn the feature its pathos with poignant moments where they ponder on their uncertain futures. Thankfully, happy endings complete this sweet family story. It’s a lovely sequel that honours the legacy of its beloved characters, full of laughs but also full of heart.
Coming 2 America is released on Amazon Prime Video on 5th March 2021.
Watch the trailer for Coming 2 America here: