Coming 2 America’s Perfect Timing
By Lori Perkins
Had I gone to a movie theatre and paid $15 per person to see this film, I might have been a little more critical, but sitting on my couch on a Saturday night in my warm and comfy PJs with a bucket of home-made popcorn after a year of sitting on my couch, Coming 2 America was just what I needed—comfy, warm and funny. It delivered.
I guess I had forgotten how pedestrianly funny Coming to America was, from the gag of Prince Akeem looking for his bride in the NYC borough of Queens to the band Sexual Chocolate, as well as the near-brilliant barber shop trio of old men using aged-up Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall. The first movie had an 80’s sense of humor that worked perfectly. I was afraid that the 30-year-later sequel might not embrace that, or worse, would erase it, but so many of my favorite actors and little pieces were brought back and acknowledged. That seems to be one of the things critics didn’t like, but without that, this would have been an “update” instead of a sequel.
There are plenty of new actors and bits – Wesley Snipes as the over-the-top kilted dictator of Nextdoria (yes, I like that name pun too) and Leslie Jones as the loud baby mama of Prince Akeem’s one-night-stand male heir, Lavelle. And all the cameos of the music of my youth – En Vogue, Salt-n-Pepa, Gladys Night. OMG, this was just a lot of fun at the right time for me.
The plot is basically the same as the previous movie, except this time Prince Akeem (now king after his farther, once again played by a 90-year-old James Earl Jones, dies) must find his “bastard son” and bring him back to Zamunda to be his heir, because the backwards African country that he rules has a patriarchal royal lineage and he and Queen Lisa (yes, Shari Headley returns in this role!) have three daughters, one of whom has been training to be Queen her whole life. So it’s no surprise that Prince Lavelle does not want the arranged marriage to the Princess of Nextdoria, who has been trained from birth to be nothing more than a wife with no opinions of her own, and instead opts to return to Queens with the royal barber he has fallen in love with. This allows King Akeem to come back to America and bring him back to Zamunda, where Queen Lisa and his baby Mama (and maybe the ghost of his own mother) make him realize he can change the laws and appoint his oldest daughter his successor.
It’s simple. It’s fun, like many of our other favorite sequels that add to the luster of the original. And the release timing is just perfect for this stage of the pandemic.