I recently watched “Coming 2 America,” the long-awaited sequel to the 1988 film “Coming to America.”
Both films, directed by Craig Brewer, are comedies surrounding Eddie Murphy’s character Akeem, who in the first movie is the prince of the fictional nation Zamunda and in the second inherits his father King Jaffe Joffer’s throne, played by James Earl Jones.
The first movie follows Akeem and his assistant Semii’s, played by Arsenio Hall, adventure to Queens, New York, so Akeem can find a wife that makes him happy as an equal, rather than a wife that spends her whole life preparing for an arranged marriage with the prince. He finds one in Lisa, the daughter of a fast-food entrepreneur.
The first movie has its funny moments and happy endings, but ends in such a way that I was left wondering what the sequel could expand upon. A few minutes in, though, and I was surprised at how the plot developed into the 21st century and introduced new characters.
Jermaine Fowler plays Akeem’s son Lavelle Junson, and his character is one of the most entertaining in the movie. He goes from selling tickets outside Madison Square Garden to learning how to be a prince in Zamunda, and I thought the culture shock that would come with such a scenario was displayed accurately.
There are multiple callbacks to the first movie hidden in the dialogue or the background, and some are funny, like the modern New York City taxi driver offering an apology and advice to download the Lyft app rather than cussing him out like a driver did in the first movie.
Where the theme in the first movie was likely to marry the one you love or to break traditions, there are many possible themes in the second, and none are a clear choice for the most obvious. Gentrification is mentioned when Akeem and Semii arrive in Queens to find Lavelle, and there is a conflict with Akeem’s daughter Meeka, who was set to be queen before the discovery of Lavelle.
This theme shines through when the song “I’m A King,” by Bobby Sessions and Megan Thee Stallion, plays over a montage of Lavelle and Meeka training, with Megan Thee Stallion’s parts playing over Meeka’s scenes. One lyric in particular, “Run my bath water, run a kingdom, run it smarter/ And leave a legacy for my future granddaughters” seems to address Meeka’s conflict of traditional gender roles directly.
There seems to be criticism surrounding the film for its use of stereotypes of both Africans and Black Americans, and I recommend reading the bbc.com article “Is Hollywood ready to stop stereotyping Africa” for more on this.
Ryan Meyer is a sophomore journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]