The sequel to John Landis’ hit comedy follows Prince Akeem (Murphy), who is set to become the king of the fictional country of Zamunda, an African kingdom untouched by colonialism, and finds out he has a son he never knew about — a street-savvy Queens native, Lavelle. To honor the former king’s (James Earl Jones) dying wish to raise his grandson as the crown prince, Akeem, and Semmi (Arsenio Hall), once again leave for America. The star-studded cast also includes Leslie Jones, Wesley Snipes and Shari Headley.
Originally set for release in theaters from Paramount Pictures, the film’s distribution rights were sold to Amazon Studios in October due to the pandemic.
The film has received mixed reviews so far, with Variety’s chief film critic Peter Debruge writing that the sequel is simply a modern-day take on the original, featuring the same jokes and a similar premise: “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,” Debruge writes.
In its review, the New York Times reflects on the iconic influence of the original film and that its “fish-out-of-water delights” would be difficult to repeat in a follow-up pic. However, the review, penned by A.O. Scott, leans toward the positive, stating that the movie is a “genial, mostly inoffensive, sometimes quite funny sequel to a beloved comedy from way back in the 1980s.”
Most of the praise for the movie has also been directed toward Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who spoke to Variety about how she approached crafting looks for Black royalty a second time around. “I wanted to bring in a little bit more of the real Africa,” Carter said.