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Coming 2 America First Reviews: A Fun but Overly Familiar Trip Down Memory Lane

Critics say the Eddie Murphy sequel scores points for nostalgia, but it leans a little too heavily on callbacks to make your Soul Glo.

by | March 4, 2021 | Comments

Eddie Murphy reprises one of his most popular movie characters ever (actually a handful of them) for the long-awaited sequel to Coming to America, and if you like the 1988 original, you may also enjoy Coming 2 America. Unfortunately, early reviews of the Amazon new release indicate the sequel borrows more than just its title from the first film, as the main complaint in the negative reviews of Craig Brewer’s follow-up are the movie’s recycled bits.

However, a lot of the favorable takes highlight the same overly faithful familiarity as a positive, or at least a harmless fault, while celebrating the return of Prince Akeem, Semi (Arsenio Hall) and the rest of the ensemble representing Zamunda and Queens. Especially Wesley Snipes.

Here’s what critics are saying about Coming 2 America:


Does the sequel live up to the original?

I’m pleased to report the long-awaited, much-anticipated, will-it-ever-happen, heavily hyped Coming 2 America is just as gloriously funny and wonderful and original and gold-hearted.
– Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

Virtually no one does good comedy sequels, especially decades after the fact… of all the people to finally get it right, who would’ve expected it to be Eddie Murphy?
– Vince Mancini, Uproxx

A pale imitation that never comes close to the dizzying highs of the original.
– Matt Goldberg, Collider

Man, this is supposed to be the long-awaited follow up to Coming to America! Why does it feel so toothless and safe?
– Sean O’Connell, CinemaBlend


Will it cater to your nostalgia?

Man, is it a fun nostalgic ride to take.
Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic

The film will easily capitalize on the lingering nostalgic affection for one of Murphy’s most successful efforts, even if the original isn’t nearly as funny as you might remember.
Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

Coming 2 America is cute and fun, a lovingly made exercise in nostalgia.
Kristen Baldwin, Entertainment Weekly

It’s a sequel that’s leaning heavily on your fond memories of the first movie without daring to bring anything new to the table.
Matt Goldberg, Collider


Coming 2 America
(Photo by Quantrell D. Colbert/©Amazon Studios)

Are there too many references to the original?

It works in plenty of odes to the original while updating it in, well, not really surprising ways, but at least they seem entirely heartfelt.
Jason Adams, Pajiba

Coming 2 America often risks dissolving into an assemblage of reference points, but Murphy’s Akeem provides just enough pathos to fuse the narrative together.
Eric Kohn, IndieWire

Craig Brewer, a superfan of Murphy and his films, doesn’t hide the joy he has for it and stuffs as much as he can in this film to prove it.
Aaron Neuwirth, We Live Entertainment

Coming 2 America includes so many nods to its predecessor that it feels like a feature-length easter egg in search of a movie.
Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter


So is it just for the fans?

Coming 2 America is adamantly, unabashedly one for the fans. And, judged solely by that mission, it’s a straight-up, if modest, success.
Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

Those who adore the original will feel like they’ve been revisited by an old friend, or perhaps the dirty uncle, whose jokes are a bit frayed but still pointed enough.
Eric Kohn, IndieWire

Who’s curious to know what these folks have been up to in that span? If you count yourself as an ‘I do!’ then, well, this movie answers that question. Sometimes with terrific comedy!
Jason Adams, Pajiba


Coming 2 America
(Photo by ©Amazon Studios)

Do you need to have seen the original?

If you haven’t seen or can’t quite recall Coming to America, the relevant background is helpfully supplied here, along with some new information.
A.O. Scott, New York Times

A lot of the jokes will land even if you haven’t seen it. That being said, you will appreciate this one so much more if you have watched the first one.
Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky


Where do the main problems lie?

Brewer and the film’s three writers (Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield, and Kenya Barris) get so caught up in repeating what worked before that they neglect characters with the most promise and potential.
Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects

One of the chief problems with Coming 2 America is that it doesn’t even know who its protagonist should be.
Matt Goldberg, Collider


Is it funny?

If you are a fan of the first one, there are numerous callbacks that should have you laughing until your sides hurt.
Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

It delivers several genuine laughs, even if it never achieves the comedic excellence of its predecessor.
Kristen Baldwin, Entertainment Weekly

It didn’t always make me laugh (though I laughed plenty), but it always made me smile.
Vince Mancini, Uproxx

With no strong characters and a muddled plot, it’s no surprise that most of the jokes in Coming 2 America fail to land.
Matt Goldberg, Collider


Coming 2 America
(Photo by Quantrell D. Colbert/©Amazon Studios)

Does it veer into musical territory?

From time to time, Coming 2 America stirs to life, especially when it goes full-on musical pageant.
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

There are more dance numbers than the first one, and they were some of my favorite scenes.
Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

It’s a winning, maximalist musical extravaganza.
Vince Mancini, Uproxx


How is Eddie Murphy?

Brash, lovable, and doused in irony at every turn, his outsized persona remains a singular figure in American comedy, evidently still capable of dominating the screen.
Eric Kohn, IndieWire

The biggest letdown is seeing Murphy deliver such a generic, lifeless character after both the original film and his wildly charismatic and energetic performance in Brewer’s Dolemite Is My Name.
Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects


And the newcomers?

While [Jermaine] Fowler proves an appealing comic actor, he’s unable to bring much vibrancy to the formulaic goings-on.
Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

Leslie Jones as Lavelle’s mother, Mary, and Tracy Morgan as his uncle, Reem, and they’re both as flat-out funny as you’d expect them to be.
Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

Leslie Jones is reliably hilarious.
Anna Menta, Decider

This movie provides further testimony to the absolute comic genius of Wesley Snipes.
A.O. Scott, New York Times

Wesley Snipes has never given such a riotous kind of deadpan performance.
Eric Kohn, IndieWire


Coming 2 America
(Photo by Quantrell D. Colbert/©Amazon Studios)

Are there any notable cameos?

The arrival of a certain famous baritone voice, who narrates a very ridiculous funeral, shows just how much the movie has invested in its jokey internal logic.
Eric Kohn, IndieWire

Much of the film’s fun stems from the celebrity cameos — including Morgan Freeman amusingly sending up his godlike narrator image and Trevor Noah as a “ZNN” anchor.
Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter


Is it more contemporary in its treatment of women characters?

What I most appreciate about this sequel is the women of Zamunda are self sufficient, strong-willed, strong-minded and not reliant upon the approval of a man to be their own person.
Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic

The film’s feminism – which sees the girls doing some fighting and not much else – feels tacked on.
Emma Simmonds, The List

Like the first movie, albeit to a less leering extent, this one wants to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to objectifying women.
Ann Hornaday, Washington Post


How are Ruth E. Carter’s costumes?

Perhaps the biggest star of the film isn’t an on-screen player but its costume designer Ruth Carter, who has gone all out in creating an Afrocentric aesthetic that bursts with richly hued fabrics, lush textures and gleaming metallics.
Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

The various royal garments give this film interesting ways to build off the characters and a wide array of colors to constantly work with, which shines just as brightly as the many happy faces seen throughout.
Aaron Neuwirth, We Live Entertainment

I’m not exaggerating when I say that costume designer Ruth E. Carter deserves an(other) Oscar.
Vince Mancini, Uproxx

She could win another [Oscar] just for General Izzi’s warlord couture.
A.O. Scott, New York Times


Coming 2 America
(Photo by ©Amazon Studios)

Is Coming 2 America ultimately worth streaming at home?

It’s good at what it sets out to do. Which makes it great fun.
Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

It’s the kind of comedy with a “repeatability factor” that will have you making plans to see it again before the closing credits even finish rolling.
Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

Perhaps some of this movie’s jokes would kill on the big screen rather than simply expiring as they did on my laptop.
Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

If Coming 2 America had released in theaters, or on-demand for $19.99, I’m not sure it’d be worth it. But since it’s streaming free on Prime, and since you probably already have a subscription… Sure!
Anna Menta, Decider


Coming 2 America premieres on Amazon Prime on March 5, 2021.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

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