Above image courtesy of Deadline.
After 33 years, Coming 2 America turns out to be a lackluster sequel, but how do we fix this?
Movie Workshop is dedicated to fixing the shortcomings of the entertainment industry. Instead of solely bashing a movie, I believe it’s important to provide detailed strategies on how to make it better, and that’s what I intend to do.
In 1988, Eddie Murphy starred in one of the greatest comedy movies ever made, Coming to America. The story follows the misadventures of Akeem (Murphy), an African prince looking for true love in New York City. Ultimately, he ends up with his crush, Lisa, and they have a happy ending. The plot set-up is simple, but it gives way to many good laughs.
In the years following its release, anticipation grew for a possible sequel. But after all this time, we’re left with a bit of a misfire.
To start with basics, the biggest problem is the movie’s comedy. The jokes are corny and there aren’t a lot of memorable moments. One of the reasons why is that the movie relies too much on the nostalgia that people have for the first one.
Many of the jokes are just callbacks to the original, such as the Sexual Chocolate band, Reverend Brown, and the McDowell family restaurant. The new jokes that are present just don’t land very well, like the ones delivered by comedic actress Leslie Jones. None of them really stood out; it just amounted to low-hanging fruit.
Instead of creating its own legacy, Coming 2 America fails to escape the shadow of its predecessor. Sadly, it comes off as a cash-grab at times; just an easy way of making money off of viewer nostalgia.
When I say this movie felt like a cash-grab, I’m not implying that no effort went into it; they just put all of their hard work into the elements that weren’t very important. For instance, there are several musical performances in the movie featuring both old and new artists, such as Teyana Taylor and Gladys Knight.
To the movie’s credit, these scenes are well choreographed, but it feels as if the director is trying to fill the runtime.
Last but not least, for a movie that has “America” in the title, it barely spends time there. If I had to estimate, Akeem spends about 20 total minutes in New York. The movie is 1 hour and 50 minutes…
The majority of the time, the audience watches Akeem and his family spend time at their mansion in Africa. It gets stale very quickly. The original movie had this sense of adventure and progression. It was fun getting to watch Akeem explore New York City.
In order to fix this movie, the plot needs to be completely revitalized, and that means getting rid of the baby momma/illegitimate son plot. It’s forced, and quite frankly, damages the integrity of the original movie.
You see, the events of the first movie get retconned in this one. Apparently, while Akeem was searching New York City for a wife, he unintentionally had a one-night fling with Leslie Jones’ character. Little did Akeem know, this resulted in the birth of his illegitimate son, Lavelle (played by Jermaine Fowler).
In a futile attempt to set up this plotline, they took scenes from the original movie and edited them to insert Leslie Jones into it.
Instead of doing all of that, they could have taken the story in a much more simple and enjoyable direction. Here’s how…
- The majority of the movie needs to take place in America. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in New York. In fact, I strongly recommend that we go to another iconic American city, such as Miami or Los Angeles.
- The plot needs to focus solely on Akeem and his relationship with his wife, Lisa, and their daughters. The best scenes are the ones with them in it. Unfortunately, it gets overshadowed by the Lavelle storyline.
- Have the plot be about Lisa hearing news of a family member passing away in America. During this time of grief, Lisa’s side of the family decides to have a reunion. Upon arriving in America, Akeem and his daughters have trouble connecting with the family. This can give way to all kinds of high jinks and memorable moments.
Coming 2 America had the potential to surpass its predecessor. Unfortunately, their efforts were focused in the wrong areas, which led to an underwhelming follow-up to one of the greatest comedy films ever made.