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Being in the company of Christmas Vacation 2 or Christmas Story 2 – ludicrously late sequels that by their existence worsen the originals – doesn’t bode well for Coming 2 America.

In fairness, this isn’t a Randy Quaid-esque misfire. While seeking a nostalgia hit, Coming 2 America lands some zingers involving the barbershop crew, still in fantastic practical makeups. It’s a shame the idea wasn’t a side story involving some goofy adventure with them instead of suffering through the same storyline in a different generation.

Coming 2 America tries too hard, eliminating Coming to America’s comic spark

Actually, that’s not true – mostly. Eddie Murphy’s now King of Zamunda and does come to America. Twice, actually. Yet where the humor rested on fish-out-water and oblivious inequality gags, Coming 2 America is desperate for that same energy as it takes place almost entirely in Africa, forced along by a ridiculous bastard child plot, but then again, Coming to America never took itself seriously anyway.

The charm is gone however. Seeing returning characters turns the nostalgia dials to high, the resulting brief smiles due to their appearances, not comic timing. Paramount sent this to Amazon after a supposed theatrical considerations (sidelined by COVID), but other than costumes, this in no way looks theater ready.

A tug-of-war happens in the script, fighting against John Landis’ abrasive humor from the original, while reeling in a more tonally pure theme about sexism, race, and progressive thinking. In a better movie, there’s a sweetness to King Akeem’s realizations about traditional Zamundan living and how they dampen women’s choice. Instead, Coming 2 America tries too hard, eliminating Coming to America’s comic spark for extended dialog exchanges on equality. Plus, cameos. So many needless cameos, which as one point, mix one with another cameo, as another cameo delivers a speech.

Pandemics don’t offer many positives, but this one saved a few bucks on theater tickets. That’s something.

Coming 2 America
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Desperate and trying patience, Coming 2 America’s bright spots happen in the barbershop and nowhere else.

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