10 Thoughts I Had about Coming 2 America—The Sequel to the Best Black Movie of All Time

Illustration for article titled 10 Thoughts I Had about Coming 2 America—The Sequel to the Best Black Movie of All Time
Screenshot: Coming 2 America (Amazon Studios/Paramount)

It’s been almost a week since Coming 2 America dropped on Amazon Prime Video. The movie–highly anticipated by most of African America since it was announced—is the sequel to the 1988 blockbuster, Coming to America. I, a member of African America, highly anticipated it because the original movie is among my favorite movies of all time, if not my favorite. I’ve written about it several times, even calling it the Best Black Movie of All Time (which I still think is true). Needless to say, I was planning to watch it as soon as I was able. Thursday evening, I saw somebody mention on Facebook that Coming 2 America was available and off I went to hit “Watch now.” Instead of writing a review—social media has provided MORE than enough of those—I will offer up 10 thoughts I had about the sequel.

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1. There was no way this movie was going to be as good as the first one. And if I’m being honest, I’m not even sure how “good” the first movie is. What I do know is that the amount of love I have for the first one renders me entirely incapable of being impartial about it. Because of that love there is literally no way this was going to live up to unless it literally became the greatest movie of all time ever in the history of the galaxy. And that, it was not. With that being said, I found it to be highly entertaining once I got over any expectations I had, which it failed to meet but I probably shouldn’t have had in the first place. What I’m saying is this: If you were disappointed in this movie that was clearly only made for the fans of the original, then that’s a “you” problem, not a movie problem. Fight your moms, bro.

2. The first time I watched it, I literally turned it off after the first 20 minutes because of how ridiculous the premise of the movie was. I was actually sad that of all the potential stories they could have come up with—and I believe they could have come up with 100 better premises for this movie—the one that was greenlit was Akeem being date-raped, basically, by Leslie Jones’ character. For starters, I didn’t even believe that Akeem was a virgin (and lowkey still find that plotline hard to believe—he never once smashed a bather??) though I realize this was one of those “finally answered questions from the first movie” for many. Either way, I re-watched it of course and once I got over that the rest of the movie was fine in the same over-the-top enjoyable ways as the first.

3. I cannot tell you how enjoyable each of the nods to the first movie were to me. McDowell’s, and the fact that they’re still jacking McDonald’s ideas, made me smile. The fact that we found out that Akeem’s first non-wife is STILL jumping around and barking like a dog is just cruel, but way to pay it back. And I literally laughed and smiled from ear to ear at the return of Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate, one of the greatest bands in all of Black Music History. The last 5 minutes of the movie made everything before it entirely worth it for my heart.

4. Despite the fact that Nextdooria is literally the stupidest, laziest name for a country ever and the writers should be ashamed that they decided upon that—seriously—Wesley Snipes was a hoot, even if his role and presence seemed entirely contrived and WAY too easy to negotiate out of. Also, I know folks were like “why was Rotimi even there if he had no real lines?” Me though, I thought he nailed that part. Same with everybody who was in it with barely a speaking role but was just there to be there. Morgan Freeman, Dikembe Motumbo, Michael Blackson, Rick Ross, etc. Shit, I wish they would have called me; I would have been there in a minute.

5. Even though the premise was sus, I did find Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones and Tracy Morgan to be highly entertaining. And that’s the first time I’ve ever really enjoyed a Leslie Jones performance. I thought she and Shari Headley played off one another well and frankly, she was doing her thing in every scene.

6. It was really good to see Eddie and Arsenio on screen together again even if both of them seemed a little bit too much like limp versions of the original characters.

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7. I didn’t mention this before because they need their own segment: The barbers at My-T-Sharp need a television show. “I had a dog named King” took me OUT. I’d watch that show all day every day. It was so nice to see that crew again and they’re still sharp (no pun intended) and funny and their time on screen was worth every single minute they got.

8. If I’m Prince Levelle Johnson, I’m running off with my barber too; she was bad bad. And Teyona Taylor was bad bad. But yeah, still.

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9. Could we get a stat count on how many former princes were killed in the test of trying to procure the whisker of a lion? SOMEBODY had to die in that endeavor, right? I’m not Zamundan, but King Akeem should probably do an audit on odd and archaic traditions since he’s seeing the light on his daughter becoming Queen and ruler of Zamunda when he dies.

10. James Earl Jones is a national treasure. I laughed so hard every time he told Akeem to kill Semmi.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.

DISCUSSION

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It seems (to me, I’m not trying to talk anyone into or out of anything) that many of the reasons people are disappointed in the sequel is more because of the individual people, and not so much because of the movie.

We can’t POSSIBLY compare the sequel to the original, but a lot of that might be because so many of us were teeny little kids when we first saw it. Of COURSE that first movie was magical and amazing, and had we seen the sequel at the same age we were when we saw the first, we might be just as blown away.

But we’re grownups now; we fondly remember the original (nostalgia does a lot to endear us further to things, especially after a few decades of mainly fond memories), and while Coming to America might have been an even huger deal back then because of the lack of Black excellence in Hollywood, we’re living in the days of Black Panther, Tyler Perry, Issa Rae and WAY more available Black excellence than we saw everywhere 30 years ago.

So a sequel that takes itself so not-seriously just doesn’t hit like it would have 30 years ago.

But if, like Panama, you were able to put your side eyes down to the side, you might enjoy the hell out of this fun romp.

And no, Akeem wasn’t a damn virgin after countless bath tuggies and who knows what else!