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Coming 2 America Official Photos

Source: Amazon / Amazon

Coming 2 America’s Amazon Prime Video debut is like being invited to a barbecue except when you ask, “Who’s all gon’ be there?” you find out your favorite aunties, uncles and cousins will be in attendance, so you decide to come through anyway. I am not a big fan of reboots. I have been raging against them for a while now and up until now, I’ve been an advocate of leaving the classics untouched. So, when I heard this particular classic was getting a sequel, I was nervous. The original was just that—a one-of-one masterpiece that showcased Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall’s comedic prowess to the tenth power. Following that up was going to be hard and Coming 2 America failed, but that’s ok.

The sequel is the direct opposite of the first movie. Where Coming to America was understated, sweet, and witty, Coming 2 America is overly dramatic. It’s trying too hard to be funny and cutting edge and most confusing of all, it’s low-key a musical. And then the accents. Every character is coming in and out of their Zamundan accents in a way that seems as though no one thought to consult a dialect coach so that the actors can at least sound like they all come from the same place.

I found a myriad of things wrong with the sequel, but I couldn’t hate it. Maybe because I have a soft spot for James Earl Jones or maybe because I’m a huge fan of the first one, but everyone seemed to be having a great time on screen, and that energy was palpable. What’s even better is the fact that they clearly all adopted killer skincare routines over the years because the cast’s melanin was unwavering. In addition to Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Garcelle Beauvais, Shari Headley, John Amos and Paul Bates were all able to reprise their roles and they all aged exquisitely.

Do I wish that Coming 2 America would have been better? Yes. But it doesn’t matter. What I came to realize is that the sequel is Eddie Murphy’s legacy come to life. If you’re willing to take a moment, you realize that the film is filled with stars whom Eddie Murphy has influenced. From SNL cast members (past and present) such as Tracy Morgan, Colin Jost, and Leslie Jones, to thoughtful, politically astute comedians such as Trevor Noah, as well as prominent sketch comedians like Jermain Fowler, you’re reminded that Murphy ran so every type of comedian could fly. He’s also a well-known lover of good times and from the looks of things, that’s exactly what Coming 2 America was for those involved, and I can appreciate that.

It’s also worth noting that the sequel comes at a time where none of the original stars have anything to prove. Back in 1988, when Coming to America first came out, both Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall were still trying to solidify their names in the industry, though the former was incredibly popular. It came out only five years after Delirious was released and a year after Raw, so Murphy was still working on forging his legacy. Thirty-three years later, he is a bonafide legend, and if he wants to release a sequel for the sake of releasing a sequel, he is well within his right to do so. He has already done his part and given his piece on American politics, racism and all the other hot button topics we care about today. At this point in his career, he should be making projects for the enjoyment alone. He’s earned it.

We lost so many of our heroes last year. The most earthshattering were the deaths of Kobe Bryant and Chadwick Boseman, so the idea of giving the icons their flowers while they can still smell them became more urgent than ever. The idea of rebooting classics for new audiences has been a jaw-clencher for me but Coming 2 America has me reconsidering.

Maybe it’s not about trying to get the new generations on the ’80s and 90s bandwagon, or about the millions of dollars these streaming services are more than willing to dole out to get back. Maybe it’s about reuniting with people who knew you when you were first making a name for yourself. Maybe it’s about encouraging your daughter’s desire to act and showing her the ropes firsthand. Maybe it’s about sitting on your throne as a pioneer in comedy and looking at the fruits of your labor. Coming 2 America has all of these components going for it, and that’s why it was a joy to watch if nothing else. I often thought about sequels as nostalgia inducers for the audience alone, but I’ve come to realize they do the same for the actors as well and when you can feel their delight through the screen, it’s a pleasure to watch.

(But if they want to make a Norbit 2 I’m going to have to put my foot down.)

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