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Coming 2 America

          review by Bobby Blakey

In 1998 Eddie Murphy teamed up with his Trading Places director John Landis for the hit comedy Coming to America alongside Aresenio Hall. There had been talks of a sequel for years and finally it’s almost here. Coming 2 America features the return of Murphy and Hall alongside returning and new cast including Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, KiKi Layne, Shari Headley, with Wesley Snipes and James Earl Jones. Also starring John Amos, Teyana Taylor, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Paul Bates, Nomzamo Mbatha, and Bella Murphy. Could this be another return to form for Murphy or will he fail to live up to the throne?

Coming 2 America follows newly-crowned King Akeem and his trusted confidante Semmi in the lush and royal country of Zamunda who embark on an all-new hilarious adventure that has them traversing the globe from their great African nation to the borough of Queens, New York – where it all began. The original is a comedy classic that still holds up today in all its ridiculous glory. Anytime sequels are made to films like this there is a fear of it just not living up to the hype and this one has already been getting mixed results. I must say while it is hit and miss at times I loved returning to Zamunda this time around.

No the film doesn’t live up to the original, but to me that is partly because it was something different that stood out then whereas this time around there are a lot of rehashed jokes trying to keep the fan service going while taking a new direction to the story. The fish out of water tale is here once again with the focus shifting to Levelle played by Jermaine Fowler. Make no mistake this is still Eddie Murphy’s show, but the fresh take with the new cast gave it a new injection to the same premise.

Sure it would have been great to see a completely different direction, but sticking to the formula that worked the first time around allowed them to not only build on it, but make it work for the awesome surprise returns and 

cameos. Murphy and Hall  dove right back in with their best moments once again being the slew of other characters they take on with my personal favorites still being Randy Watson and Reverend Brown. The new additions were all fun to watch with Wesley Snipes chewing up every scene he was in.

What made this film work probably more than it should is that it appeared everyone was just having a blast making it. This was a film that was not only for the fans, but the cast that returned and joined it. It’s a film we didn’t need, but I am damn sure glad we got. Big props for the amount of fun surprises they brought to the table most notably some of the throw away cameos that you might miss if you don’t revisit the first film again prior.

In the end there are moments were some of the jokes are kind of forced in, but as a whole I had a blast. It’s not the original film nor is it trying to be. It is a film that fully embraces its legacy and looks to just play in that world once again for those that love the film both on screen and in the audience. If you are looking for the return of raunchy Murphy this is not the film for you and nor was the original. Sure there were “F” bombs and even some nudity in the original and this one plays up similar tropes in its own way. With Murphy’s brilliant turn in Dolemite Is My Name and now a fun return to Zamunda, could that long promised return to Axel Foley be long behind?

This release not only offers up the film, but bonus content including commentary and an exclusive featurette entitled “From Queens to Zamunda,” which includes never-before-seen footage and interviews. Return to Zaumnda and grab your copy of Coming 2 America when it hits Blu-ray and DVD on March 8th from Paramount Home Entertainment.

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