Thirty years have passed since the wedding to end all weddings closed Coming to America, John Landis and Eddie Murphy’s 1988 blockbuster comedy about an African prince who travels from the fictional African kingdom of Zamunda to New York to find a bride. A funeral lineup to rival Glastonbury occurs in the first act of this sequel, proving that the people of Zamunda still know something about spectacle.
Co-written by Kenya Barris (Girls Trip) and directed by Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow, Dolemite Is My Name), this follow-up reverses the first film’s fish-out-of-water plot, with Murphy’s Prince Akeem and sidekick Semmi (Arsenio Hall) returning, briefly, to Queens to retrieve Akeem’s secret “bastard son” Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler). The comedy doesn’t work quite as well this way around, though Fowler is extremely likable as a sweet-natured slacker, channelling the endearing guilelessness of Murphy’s original Prince Akeem.
Still, there are enough in-jokes and returning characters to keep fans happy (admirers of Randy Watson and his band Sexual Chocolate needn’t fret). A flashback involving Lavelle’s mum Mary (Ghostbusters’ Leslie Jones) and a pumpkin spice scented candle made me bark with laughter. The film proudly celebrates a wide swathe of Black culture; there’s a throwaway gag about cult TV sitcom Benson, a cameo from 90s R&B group En Vogue, and gorgeous Ankara-print costumes designed by Ruth E Carter (Black Panther).