Having not long ago watched the original Coming to America, the film and its themes – love, power and silliness – still linger in my often forgetful brain. I do find the 1988 flick charming and it’s a film that’s regarded as one of Eddie Murphy’s better comedy outings on the big screen. Comedy sequels – and certainly those that come over 30 years later – have a, erm, mixed track record to put it kindly. Is Coming 2 America a cash-cow or a worthwhile venture? Thankfully, I found it to be the latter.
Coming 2 America isn’t afraid to look back. It harps back to 1988 – through flashbacks, references and repeated themes – and does so, genuinely, rather well, if not a tad over-reliant on its original for reference at times. Yet it does manages to also ingrain a bit of 21st century spirit into proceedings, specifically through the introduction of new characters (Murphy’s offspring in the film) who bring with them modern attitudes and a few youthful turns of phrases as a battle for the future of Zamunda plays out.
A big part of the first film was its use and reference of music. The sequel aims for similar and in the movies opening stages, there a purposely over-electorate ceremony that sees a number of famous faces belt out some tunes or say a few words. A smile-inducing start to a film that the rest of the proceedings reaches for, occasionally got close to, but never quite managed to reach upto.
I had a decent time with Coming 2 America. It may not be the most original of sequels and may not land every comedic beat, but it has spirit, has something to say and looks great in the process.