I got an email from an old friend, someone I have known for almost 20 years and whom I love as much as sunshine, but our life paths have diverged, and this email made me feel like I had an old heart back in the 1980s / 90s, and that now I have a new heart for the 2020s. Like I want different things from my favorite folks, I might want different things from my favorite films, and while I was thrilled to start watching Coming 2 America, midway through I felt like I did not need this sequel. Maybe Coming to America was a jewel of the late 1980s, which could’ve kept standing and shining on its own?
And that very question is actually discussed by two central characters during the movie…
But that doesn’t mean Coming 2 America isn’t funny. It’s funny as hell, and I point to Arsenio Hall and Tracy Morgan as the funniest in this film. Again, Arsenio steps into his supporting roles completely and with pitch perfection. There is a scene when Arsenio Hall snaps at Tracy Morgan “I will cut you!” Which is Black talk for “You better stop now, and this is your last warning.” Throughout the film, Arsenio Hall’s timing and delivery are hilarious, and Arsenio ‒ whose bromance chemistry with Eddie has been undeniable ‒ Arsenio elicited the best from Tracy too. Opposite Arsenio, in scenes when they’re interacting, I found Tracy to be engaged and energized like we don’t often see him. Tracy’s presence felt fresh.
I liked all the introductions of new cast members in the Coming to/2 America franchise. Morgan Freeman provided his velvety voice for the eulogy of King Jaffe Joffer, James Earl Jones’ cameo at the beginning of the movie. Trevor Noah as the Zamundan reporter Totatsi Bibinyana was refreshing because, well, because Trevor and his bright smile are always refreshing. Cool Wesley Smooth Snipes absolutely revelled in his role as General Izzi, chuckling and shimmying his way through the movie, and giving the impression that the actor was positively proud to be participating in this classic rom-com event. My coworker put it well when she said Murphy’s two films bridge the Black filmmakers from then with now.
By filmmakers, I also mean those behind the camera: Within the community of Black American filmmaking, the highest level of costuming artistry has been created by Ruth E. Carter. Entire articles have been written about Ms. Carter, and a paragraph never suffices. Her 40+ credits include Spike Lee’s biopic Malcom X, Steven Spielberg’s drama Amistad, Ava DuVernay’s Selma, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, and now Eddie Murphy’s Coming 2 America. For the areas where Murphy’s sequel may have lacked, Carter’s costumes visually compensated, amending holes in the film’s script writing.
Finally, I want to end this review looking at Eddie Murphy, who – yes – sometimes tells sexist jokes, but I have heard them as jokes, and the ending of this sequel shows that he respects women’s strength and capabilities. I see Eddie as a sweet person who humanely includes animals in stories, and I am thinking of a scene with Barbar his elephant friend. Eddie who loves being a father and who chose to create a sequel about having strong daughters and a promising son. In the 80s Eddie made a movie about being a prince because he was Hollywood royalty. Now in the 2020s, Eddie has brought ten children into this world, has declared himself America’s Black Dad, and produced a sequel about mentoring a next generation. From a thematic perspective, initially I was tempted to complain that the two movies felt disjointed. But perhaps it’s best to watch this franchise as a reflection of Eddie Murphy’s evolution as a filmmaker, and I will watch anything Eddie makes. I just like the dude, and his adorable middle-aged dad bod. (Yeah I said it. 🙂 ) My nostalgic 1980s heart will remain most loyal to Coming to America, but I will also return to and enjoy Coming 2 America.
There is so much that I have not mentioned. So much for you to see yourself and to appreciate. Even though most of the movie takes place in royal palace of Zamunda, I still enjoyed most of the comedy set in New York: The barbershop scenes were my favorite. At the end I laughed out loud at the appearance of Arsenio’s ridiculous Rev. Brown. There is sure to be a character and/or scene you enjoy in this comedy film, which is as romantic and entertaining as its prequel.
In the end, Coming 2 America felt like a family reunion. I was left with the impression that Eddie’s target audience was everyone who loved the first installment these past three decades. I am of the opinion that endings make or break of a movie, and while there were moments when I questioned the making of this sequel, it was the last scene when the core cast took a group photo when I understood that this film is for the fan who has stayed true to the Joffers and Zamunda since 1988. Coming 2 America is a reunion, with old and new family members, with Eddie as the progressive patriarch.
Enjoy this movie with your household, and happy springtime. Of two hearts, Bishop