Arts & Leisure

“Coming 2 America” reprises well

ARSENIO HALL and Eddie Murphy reprise familiar roles in “Coming 2 America.”

By Jim Tortolano

In an especially giggle-worthy part of the new “Coming 2 America” sequel to the 1988 Eddie Murphy film about an African prince who journeys to America to find a bride, two characters complain about all the lame sequels coming out of Hollywood.

Well, they’re right in general, but not in the case of this one. “Coming 2 America” is that rare “Part Two” that is almost as delightful as the original.

We are back in Zamunda, as fictional a country as Wakanda. Prince Akeem (Murphy) is happily married to Lisa (Shari Headley), but a crisis emerges. Akeem has three daughters but no sons, and King Jaffe (James Earl Jones) is approaching his deathbed.

If a new King Akeem has no male heir, his position becomes a bit wobbly, especially considering pressure from a neighboring militaristic nation, archly named Nextdoria.

At the peak of all this worry comes a jarring secret: while in Queens, New York on his trip to America 30-plus years ago, Akeem fathered a son while in an intoxicated state.

So, the prince and his best pal Semmi (Arsenio Hall) travel back to Queens to meet this bastard son, Lavelle Johnson (Jermaine Fowler) and Lavelle’s over-the-top mother Mary (Leslie Jones).

Of course, there is much cross-cultural humor: American casual attitudes and language clash with the traditional mores of an African kingdom. You can guess which approach ends up winning.

There is much to like here. It’s almost a who’s who of African American actors in the cast, including Wesley Snipes, Tracy Morgan, John Amos and even Morgan Freeman. Maybe they’ll have Denzel Washington and Chris Rock in “Coming 3 America.”

This version has romance – with a couple of head fakes as to who will end up with whom – and slapstick and martial arts. But the central fun here is to see old pals Eddie and Arsenio reprising one of the Eighties’ most memorable comic films. On top of that, we may have met a star of the next generation of comic actors in Fowler.

At a time when laughs are hard to come by, this comedy is 2 good to miss.

“Coming 2 America” is rated PG-13 for some mild violence, sensuality and language.

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