Aronne Ibarra’s review published on Letterboxd:
There's a scene in this movie where two important characters casually talk about American cinema in the garden outside the castle of Zamunda. The soon-to-be prince of the kingdom remarks that American cinema now is full of bad remakes and sequels. At that moment, I can't believe what I was hearing or watching. Coming 2 America is simply a follow-up nobody asked for.
John Landis' 1988 original was a film I didn't think I would like but I did. I thought it was clever and fun with all the right hits of nostalgia, and it ended on a fine note that concluded a classic ready to be enjoyed for generations to come. Well, nostalgia has been Hollywood's best friend when it comes to making profit over the past few years and you already know no classic is to be spared.
Coming 2 America takes much of its plot beats and gags from its predecessor while being tragically unfunny. It's a film of rehashes in an attempt to retell the same story to younger audiences who may not have been familiar with the original. The studio might have anticipated a huge number of parents who enjoyed the first movie, swore to their children it was funny (and assumed the sequel would be too), and insisted their kids to see this with them before greenlighting the project. Like, why couldn't you just come up with a unique story that actually moves the whole story? But then of course Hollywood has no heart and they're just cashing in on a film made thirty years ago.
The sequel takes the skeleton story and themes of the first film and modifies it to appeal to older kids. The witty commentary on American culture and the real laughs are gone, replaced by millennial swaggering and "comedy" loaded of pop culture references and PG-13 awkwardness. This didn't squeeze a smile out of me; a confused face, yes, lots. This felt empty and so manufactured that all there is to say is if you want to experience the true delight of these characters, this story, and what it's trying to say, just watch the original.
It's still pretty charming, though; I can't say I hate it. The celebrity cameos, the side characters from the original they brought back, the barbershop guys, the Soul Glo song, and other little things saved Coming 2 America from total wreckage. The studio tried to use nostalgia to sell it, I enjoyed some of it and ultimately kept me from lowering my rating further. It's still a dick move but it kind of worked for once.
Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Shari Headley, John Amos, and John Earl Jones reprise their roles and it's always nice to see them in character; Murphy and Hall do their best to carry the film with a lame and unfunny script. We also get new acting additions in Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Kiki Layne, Wesley Snipes, Tracy Morgan, Nomzamo Mbatha, and Teyana Taylor. Fowler plays Akeem's lost son Lavelle and I thought he wasn't too charismatic for a central character but he did okay.
Aside from the overall laziness, Coming 2 America features too many song-and-dance numbers, bland cinematography, and mediocre directing. This is not a good movie; you can skip this and watch the original instead. Not the worst thing ever but still, I haven't seen a film released this year I actually like. I'm losing hope.
That is all, have a great day, and thanks for reading!