You may wonder if there is only one white person in Coming 2 America’s cast, if the movie is for you. Well, hopefully you don’t wonder, but revel in a rare example, even in 2021, of a film that centers Black performers. Hopefully you have already read reviews on this new release from Black film journalists. If you haven’t, you should, though you’ll have to look to the 3rd page of Rotten Tomato reviews before you find a Black film critic, despite the inclusion initiatives RT put in place several years ago. As a fan of the 1988 comedy, I’ll still offer my opinions on the sequel. Silly, sweet, and full of powerful Black female characters who are neither beholden to, nor second fiddle to some blonde, white lead. Coming 2 America is more a vehicle for the female actors than for stars Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall. It is also unabashedly made for fans of the original cult classic.
Zamunda gets a new king early in Coming 2 America. Akeem (Eddie Murphy) takes on the throne with Queen Lisa (Shari Headly) by his side, with his three highly accomplished daughters looking on. Unfortunately, Zamunda must have a male heir, as we are informed by General Izzi (Wesley Snipes), who is waiting in the wings to take over the country. Surprise! A forgotten pre-Lisa indiscretion in Queens has gleaned a heretofore unknown 30 year old son named Lavelle Junson (played by multi-hyphenate Jermaine Fowler). Off Akeem and his pal Semmi (Hall) go, back to Queens, to drag his progeny and mom Mary (Leslie Jones) back to Zamunda to be groomed as future king.
It’s obvious in 2021 that there’s no way they’ll keep to the rule of requiring a male heir, right? Especially when the women in Akeem’s life are brilliant, talented, and are so highly skilled as warriors they can kick anyone unconscious. What about the palace hair stylist who dreams of opening her own shop? It seems clear early on that the strong female presence in Coming 2 America will be eclipsing the men in the story, and it’s unlikely that anyone will have a problem with that. Fowler as would-be prince is the most fleshed out male character, but his issues and plot lines still aren’t as interesting as those of the women.
For the review in its entirety, go to AWFJ.org HERE.