With the passing of his father King Joffe Jaffer (James Earl Jones), Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is at last ready to assume the throne of Zamunda but must secure a male heir in order to ensure peace with Nextdoria. When he finds that he has an illegitimate son (Jermaine Fowler) through a one-night stand with an American woman (Leslie Jones), Akeem sets off to reclaim his son in spite of the fact that he has three capable daughters...
From the very get-go, 'Coming 2 America' comes off like it's a reunion tour for your favourite band. Sure, they're playing all the tunes you remember, everyone's having fun, you're having fun, but by the time it's all over, you're struggling to recall anything of note. More than that, you can see in the performers that while they may have the learned skills required, the magic isn't quite there anymore nor is any of the desire to make it so.
In essence, it's a greatest hits tour and everyone's just happy to be along for the ride. 'Coming 2 America' follows the same rhythm as the original. You've got a young Prince in Jermaine Fowler who has to throw off tradition to follow his own heart. You've got the father-son issues with Eddie Murphy and James Earl Jones still there. You've got the fun cameos - including one 'SNL' member in a Landis-verse role that he was literally born to play. You've even got Sexual Chocolate making a return. It's all there, but why doesn't it fit together then as it did before?
It's certainly not John Landis' absence, as Craig Brewer's direction is more than equal to the task. The script, by original writers Barry Blaustein and David Sheffield together with 'Black-ish' creator Kenya Barris, is basically a reheat of the original with some adjustments made for our more socially aware times. Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall haven't lost any of their chemistry together, but you get the sense that they're both back in it simply for the joy of them working together again than the story and concept itself being so potent that they needed to do it.
Instead, what you get is a mild, entertaining tour through Eddie Murphy's greatest comedy creations with a safe script and nothing too fancy to upset the whole thing. Musical interludes cover over the giant holes in the runtime, and though they're fun and choreographed well, you just know that they're spinning the wheels rather than moving anything forward because they'll run out of script too quickly.
If your desire is to know if Eddie Murphy is still funny after all these years, rest assured that he is - but it's not here. You only need to look at 'Dolemite Is My Name' to know that he can be every bit as hilarious as he was in his glory days when he wants to be. Here, it's more than Murphy is pleasantly entertaining the notion of a greatest hits tour rather than actively trying to make something fresh and exciting.
Even with the additions of Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, and Wesley Snipes, it never quite lifts off as it should - though it must be said, everyone's giving it their all to make it happen. All in all, 'Coming 2 America' is too much and not enough nostalgia-based comedy.
You're laughing along with it, but more at what it was rather than what it is.
'Coming 2 America' is streaming on Amazon Prime now.