The original « Coming to America » was an absolute masterpiece, drawing on so many elements of 1980s New York City, and especially the less glamorous side of life on the outskirts of Queens. It also created an entire universe in Zamunda that was full of exaggerated royal traditions. And both countries were filled with some of the hilariously funniest characters and pieces in comedy history.
While the sequel « Coming 2 America » (now available on Amazon Prime) introduces new blood like Tracy Morgan as Uncle Reem and Leslie Jones as Prince Akeem’s baby mom, it’s more of a nostalgic rerun of the first film.
Like a reunion over 30s, viewers can watch some of the craziest characters make it into the 21st century, for better or for worse. While some personalities have been left in the dust – um, Soul Glo heirs Darryl Jenks and Patrice McDowell – Coming 2 America brings back some of the biggest hits. Warning: spoilers ahead!
Zamundan loyalists will be surprised at how many American celebrities, including En Vogue and Salt-N-Pepa, have found their way into the posh African kingdom. Numerous royal customs remain, however, including the orally versed royal bathers, the rose petal maids, and the stoic royal servant Oha, who still lends his legendary pipes for any official ceremony.
In the 1980s, this was the real King of Queens St. John’s Hoops team. In the original, Prince Akeem, the McDowell sisters, and Soul Glo heir Darryl Jenks go to a St. John’s basketball game at Madison Square Garden, where Akeem gets up at halftime and cheers after Patrice McDowell grabs his crown jewels. Then he meets a « loyal citizen of Zamunda » who works in the most famous arena in the world. When the original was released in 1988, the Red Storm were of course the Redmen and still in the days of the glory of the Great East. The squad doesn’t appear on the pitch in the final strip, but the sequel still pays homage to the famous Hoops program and the Thunderbird, its current mascot. Prince Akeem’s illegitimate son Lavelle makes a living as a street buff scalping tickets to St. John’s games outside of MSG.
Every sequel to « Coming to America » requires a cameo from Mortimer and Randolph Duke from « Trading Places ». Unfortunately, actors Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy, who played the stuffy rich owners of Duke & Duke, are long dead. They could have walked the hologram path. Instead, in a nod to Murphy’s iconic role as Billy Ray Valentine at the company, Akeem’s son interviews a presumptuous scion of the Duke family played by Colin Jost. And we see a portrait of Hollywood’s favorite commodity brokers.
The My-T-Sharp crew is back, still spewing razor-sharp barbs. You are also still not politically correct and call Akeem and Semmi « Kunta Kinte and Ebola ». But they have evolved a bit. Clarence, played by Murphy, mentions that he has a transgender family member. But they continue their fiery arguments over boxing, this time debating Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather instead of Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali, aka Cassius Clay.
A more aptly fashionable moment would have been to bring back Lisa’s lovely shearling coat that she wore on her date with Akeem, but sadly it has to be in Cleo McDowell’s closet in Jamaica Estates. Who needs a lambskin in Zamunda? However, Akeem’s famous Mets plain jacket makes a cameo. When he arrives back in the Big Apple to find his son, he takes off his elaborate clothes and puts on the blue and orange jacket with all the brightly colored pins to blend in with the rest of the Big Apple residents.
Do you remember Babar, the baby elephant who Prince Akeem lovingly greets while walking with his father, King Jaffe Joffer? Well, Babar is an adult and like Akeem is now a father. The couple are still friends, and the pachyderm is still roaming the grounds near the palace.
« Now you may know him as Joe the Policeman in the What’s Going Down » episode of « That’s My Mama » . » Yes, Jackson Heights own Mr. Randy Watson, played by Murphy, seems to be back on tour. He’s more puffy in the face and center, most likely due to the tough life and groupies from the Miss Black Awareness Pageant, but what can you say? This boy is good. And still terrible. He and Sexual Chocolate are back, covering another classic in the finale. Only this time does he bring his talents to Zamunda.
The Reverend Brown, a close personal friend of McDowell’s owner Cleo McDowell, was known for delivering the most fiery sermons on Queens Boulevard. In 2021, Reverend Brown is still preaching, albeit in less prestigious locations than the Miss Black Awareness pageant. It is located in a shabby shop of a « church ». But in a Hollywood miracle he officiates the most important wedding in Zamundan’s modern history. Can i get an amen?
Louie Anderson was brilliant as Maurice, a McDowell worker who set his expectations very high: assistant manager. « Then big money rolls in, » he said. It seems that he made his dream come true. He helps Cleo McDowell run McDowell’s Zamunda branch, where workers wear African-inspired uniforms infused with McDowell’s signature red tartan.
In a surprising musical performance, the twins Fresh Peaches and Sugar Cube tried to woo both Semmi and Prince Akeem with their beats: “My name is Peaches and I’m the best. All DJs want to feel my breasts ”- come back on stage next to Randy Watson. They don’t have new bars to drop, but they sound and look as fresh as ever.
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