Coming 2 America

Coming 2 America
Coming 2 America release poster.jpg
Official release poster
Directed byCraig Brewer
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Barry W. Blaustein
  • David Sheffield
  • Justin Kanew
Based onCharacters
by Eddie Murphy
Starring
Music byJermaine Stegall
CinematographyJoe Williams
Edited by
  • David S. Clark
  • Billy Fox
Production
companies
Distributed byAmazon Studios
Release date
  • March 4, 2021 (2021-03-04) (United States)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$60 million[2][3]

Coming 2 America is a 2021 American comedy film that serves as a sequel to the 1988 film Coming to America starring Eddie Murphy. The film is directed by Craig Brewer from a screenplay by Kenya Barris, Barry W. Blaustein, and David Sheffield, and a story by Blaustein, Sheffield, and Justin Kanew, based on characters created by Murphy.[4] It stars Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, KiKi Layne, Shari Headley, Teyana Taylor, Wesley Snipes, and James Earl Jones.[5]

Originally to be theatrically released by Paramount Pictures, the film's distribution rights were sold to Amazon Studios due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amazon released it digitally via Prime Video on March 4, 2021.[6] Coming 2 America received mixed reviews from critics.

Plot

On the 30th anniversary of his wedding with Lisa McDowell, Prince Akeem of Zamunda is summoned before his dying father, King Jaffe Joffer. Jaffe and his shaman Baba reveal to a baffled Akeem that he had sired a son during his first visit in Queens, New York after Semmi had enticed two women into spending the night with them while Akeem was still searching for his future queen. One of them drugged Akeem, resulting in a tryst he did not remember. As Zamundian tradition demands that only a male successor can inherit the throne, and Lisa has borne only daughters, Akeem is forced to travel back to Queens to retrieve his son. If not, Zamunda could face a hostile takeover by Zamunda's militaristic neighbor nation Nexdoria, whose dictator, General Izzi (the brother of Akeem's original arranged bride-to-be), has been pushing Akeem's eldest daughter Meeka into marrying his foppish son, Idi.

Following King Jaffe's funeral and Akeem's ascension to king, he and Semmi travel to Queens to meet his illegitimate son, Lavelle Junson, who is a smart-mouthed ticket scalper struggling to get a real job. After an awkward reunion with his mother Mary, Akeem takes them and Lavelle's uncle Reem back to Zamunda, much to his family's displeasure. When General Izzi learns of this, he drops by to introduce his daughter Bopoto to Lavelle as a last shot at laying claim to the throne of Zamunda, but in order to qualify as a royal prince, Lavelle firstly has to pass a series of traditional - and hazardous - tests.

Lavelle is at first highly reluctant to place himself in danger, but then bonds with Mirembe, a royal groomer, who tells him of Akeem's quest to find his queen and encourages him to follow his own path. Lavelle gradually develops an understanding with Akeem's family and, using his wits and some forced courage, he passes and is made Prince of Zamunda. However, at his accession party, Lavelle overhears a conversation between Akeem and Izzi which makes him believe that Akeem is just exploiting him, and he, Mirembe, Mary and Reem go back to New York. Upset at losing Mary, whom she has befriended, Lisa locks Akeem out of their bedroom. After talking with Cleo, who reminds him of late Queen Aoleon's progressive mind, Akeem flies back to the States, while Semmi is left to stall Izzi, who intends to return the next day to either see Bopoto marry Lavelle or declare war.

Returning to Queens, Akeem finds that Lavelle and Mirembe are about to get married. Reminded of his own life story, he gives them his blessing and releases Lavelle from his marriage to Bopoto. In the meantime, Semmi and the princesses fight off and subdue General Izzi, forcing him to try a more diplomatic approach. Upon his return home, Akeem changes the royal succession laws by allowing his daughter Meeka to ascend to the throne upon his death, while Lavelle is made an ambassador of Zamunda to the United States and General Izzi has opened Nexdoria for a peaceful political and trading relationship. The film concludes with a grand party at the royal palace, with Akeem's friends from Queens as special guests, including a performance of the song "We Are Family" from Sexual Chocolate.

Cast

  • Eddie Murphy as Prince / King Akeem Joffer, who is crowned king of Zamunda.[7]
    • Murphy also plays Randy Watson, a soul singer with the fictional band Sexual Chocolate, as well as Mr. Clarence, the local barber, and Saul, the Jewish barbershop customer.
  • Arsenio Hall as Semmi, Akeem's best friend and aide.
    • Hall also plays Reverend Brown, a reverend of the church,[8] as well as Mr. Clarence's right hand barber, Morris, and Baba, a witch doctor.[9] He also reprised his role of Extremely Ugly Girl from the first film through archival footage.
  • Jermaine Fowler as Lavelle Junson, Akeem's and Mary's son.[10]
  • Leslie Jones as Mary Junson, Lavelle's mother.[11][12]
  • Tracy Morgan as Uncle Reem Junson, Lavelle's uncle and Mary's brother.[13]
  • KiKi Layne as Princess Meeka Joffer, Akeem's and Lisa's first daughter. She is ineligible to take over the throne of Zamunda since it has to be a male heir.[14]
  • Shari Headley as Queen Lisa Joffer, Akeem's wife whom he fell in love with during his first trip to America.
  • Wesley Snipes as General Izzi,[15] Imani's older brother and leader of Nexdoria.[16][17]
  • Teyana Taylor as Bopoto Izzi, General Izzi's daughter.[18]
  • James Earl Jones as King Jaffe Joffer, Akeem's ailing father and the King of Zamunda.
  • Bella Murphy as Princess Omma Joffer, Akeem's and Lisa's second daughter.[19][20]
  • Akiley Love as Princess Tinashe Joffer, Akeem's and Lisa's third daughter.[21]
  • Paul Bates as Oha, a longtime royal servant.[22]
  • John Amos as Cleo McDowell, Akeem's former employer and father-in-law and Lisa's father.
  • Louie Anderson as Maurice, a manager at McDowell's restaurant.
  • Rotimi as Idi Izzi, General Izzi's son and the Prince of Nexdoria.[23][24]
  • Vanessa Bell Calloway as Imani Izzi, General Izzi's younger sister and Akeem's former intended bride.
  • Nomzamo Mbatha as Mirembe, a royal groomer and Lavelle's love interest.[25]
  • Clint Smith as Sweets, a barber.[26]
  • Luenell as Livia, Lavelle's aunt
  • Michael Blackson as Izzi's Lieutenant
  • Garcelle Beauvais as Grace, a royal rose bearer.
  • Trevor Noah as Totatsi Bibinyana, a Zamunda News Network anchor
  • Colin Jost as Mr. Duke[27]
  • Morgan Freeman as himself[28]
  • Davido as himself[29]
  • En Vogue as themselves
  • Salt-N-Pepa as themselves
  • Gladys Knight as herself
  • Dikembe Mutombo as himself
  • Rick Ross as General Izzi's Soldier
  • John Legend appears in a mid-credits scene singing "She's Your Queen to Be" as sung by Paul Bates in the first film.

Production

Development

In January 2017, an announcement was publicized which addressed the impending production of a sequel to the original film, Coming to America. Kevin Misher was named as producer, and David Sheffield and Barry W. Blaustein, the original screenwriters, were also attached to the project. However, a possible participation of lead actors Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall was left undefined.[30]

Casting

On January 11, 2019, it was announced that the sequel would be moving forward with Murphy reprising his role, and Craig Brewer as director (having previously worked with Murphy on the Netflix film Dolemite Is My Name).[31] Arsenio Hall, Shari Headley, John Amos, Paul Bates, and James Earl Jones were expected to return for the sequel as well.[22] Wesley Snipes signed on for a role in the film, later revealed to be General Izzi, the son of Colonel Izzi and older brother of Imani from the first film. Leslie Jones and rapper Rick Ross also joined the cast in undisclosed roles.[32][33][34]

On June 18, 2019, Jermaine Fowler was cast in the film in a starring role.[35] On August 12, 2019, it was confirmed that Shari Headley would reprise her role as love interest Lisa McDowell.[36] On August 21, 2019, Nomzamo Mbatha,[37] Tracy Morgan, KiKi Layne, Luenell, Rotimi, Teyana Taylor, and Michael Blackson were added to the cast, alongside returning actors Louie Anderson, Vanessa Bell Calloway, and Garcelle Beauvais.[23][38] Madge Sinclair, who played Akeem's mother Queen Aoleon in the original film, died in December 1995; her character was not recast, but is featured in archive footage. In September 2019, Davido had been cast in a cameo role in the film.[29][39][40]

In October 2019, Samuel L. Jackson, who briefly appeared in the original film, was confirmed to not be reprising his role in the sequel due to scheduling conflicts.[41] Murphy said that if Jackson had been available for the cameo, his character would be again featured robbing the McDowells restaurant.[42] In December 2019, Morgan Freeman and Bella Murphy were cast in undisclosed roles.[19][28] In October 2019, Eriq La Salle stated that he will not reprise his role of Darryl Jenks from the original film due to scheduling conflicts.[43] In February 2021, Murphy stated that if the character of Darryl Jenks had returned, there could have been a romance with Patrice McDowell (portrayed by Allison Dean) due to the events at the end of the original film.[44]

Filming

On August 17, 2019, filming officially began in Atlanta, Georgia. Rick Ross confirmed during the same month that his Georgia mansion will be used as a location in the film.[45][46][47] On October 1, 2019, in an interview with Collider, Murphy confirmed that production on Beverly Hills Cop IV would commence after the filming of Coming 2 America has wrapped.[48] Filming officially wrapped on November 9, 2019.[49] Due to his age, James Earl Jones did not travel to the set or film his scenes with Murphy.[50]

Music

The original motion picture soundtrack was released through Def Jam Recordings on March 5, 2021.[51] In February 2021, Bobby Sessions and Megan Thee Stallion released I'm a King as its lead single.[52]

Release

Streaming

Coming 2 America was released by Prime Video on March 4, 2021, one day earlier than was announced.[6] The film was initially scheduled to be theatrically released by Paramount Pictures on August 7, 2020,[53] but was pushed back to December 18, 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic began.[54][55][56] On November 20, 2020, Amazon Studios acquired the distribution rights to the film for $125 million.[1] Following its release, Amazon claimed the film had the best opening weekend of any streaming film since March 2020.[57]

Critical response

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 50% based on 217 reviews with an average rating of 5.4/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Decades after its predecessor joked about the fine line between love and nausea, Coming 2 America reminds audiences that there's an equally fine line between sequel and retread."[58] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 52 out of 100 based on 47 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[59]

Cassie Da Costa of Vanity Fair reviewed the film unfavorably, writing that it is "startling in its utter incompetence" and "uses half-baked internet-era discourse as a substitute for meaningful or even entertaining cultural commentary".[60] Writing for The Guardian, critic Peter Bradshaw stated that "the movie is as tired and middle-aged as Akeem [the leading character] himself".[61] Peter Debruge of Variety said "For the most part, Coming 2 America falls back on familiar punchlines, serving up nearly word-for-word repeats of amusing bits from the original, but they don’t necessarily play the same in this context."[62]

Melanie McFarland of Salon gave the film a favorable review, writing that it "honors its predecessor" and overcomes some of the original film's datedness, by utilizing "more equitable comedy that skewers outdated patriarchal traditions."[63] Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle gave another favorable review, saying: "when (Murphy) brings his dramatic capacities to comic roles, he's really at his best and most original. It's strange, these movies that create a warm feeling. It's hard to say why or how it feels like the summation of the three decades of virtuosic silliness that Murphy has brought to the screen, and of all that has meant to us."[64]

Possible sequel

Murphy said there could be a Coming to America 3 when he turns 75, which will be 16 years after the release of Coming 2 America.[65]

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