I remember watching Coming to America when it first came out back in 1988, and I’ve seen it several times since then. It’s one of those Semmi cult classic movies that I’ll find a way to quote from on occasion, or reference in some manner. If you caught that and understood the reference, we can be friends….or we’re the same type of sad and eyeroll worthy movie geeks. When I heard they were making a sequel I was more than a little worried about how it would come across, but I knew I was going to watch it regardless. It has been a few years since I’d seen the original, and before I watched Coming 2 America I wanted to re-watch Coming to America, so I decided to view them back to back. After having done so, it is my firm belief that this is the best way possible to appreciate the sequel, especially given the state of the way people act towards one another these days.
I see a lot of hate towards this movie with trash talking about rehashed plots and it only being an exercise in nostalgia, and I probably would’ve agreed with a lot of it because it does rely heavily on the formula that worked in the first film (and in some cases apparent cutting room floor footage from the first film), but with more watered down and less likeable characters in the Akeem/Lisa romance roles. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not going to win film of the year either. As a standalone movie it’s a typical sequel in that it’s not as good as the original, but it’s nice to see what the familiar characters have been up to, and it does a good job of entertaining you along the way. When viewed back to back with the original though, it is extremely apparent the message that Eddie Murphy is trying to impart to the audience in how portrays Akeem, sometimes vastly more obvious than others. When viewed almost as a single movie, it becomes an entirely different film, and I highly suggest viewing it this way.
Almost all of the surviving cast returned for this film, and I have no complaints with any performances, even Wesley Snipes over the top General Izzi seemed appropriate for the context he was presented in. Costuming was fantastic, as to be expected from the same folks responsible for the Wakanda costuming. Sets looked good, no issues with cinematography or sound, and the make-up department still does a good job with the barbershop guys. Although they might have to use less make-up nowadays, it was as you’d expect for 30 years later in life. My world building itch was scratched with some background on the fictional region and relationships between fictional countries, and the ridiculousness of General Izzi coming from Nextdooria fits right into the world Eddie Murphy built. It’s a fun movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but still manages to get a message across.
In a day and age where everything is so polarized, it’s nice to sit back and be entertained without having an agenda forced upon you. When we get right down to it, that’s what is so appealing about nostalgia isn’t it? Harkening back to a simpler, and sometimes maybe better time? When we’re young we’re full of ideals and carefree, but as we get older things change and we didn’t adapt in certain ways as we thought we would. Maybe our parents were right all along, and we were too stubborn thinking we were right to see why they were doing things a certain way, and before you know it we’ve become a watered down version of them? Did we lose sight of what was really important along the way, or did we ever really know? Hard to say. Watch them back to back and decide for yourself.