The first "Coming to America" (1988) was a rom-com starring Eddie Murphy who played Prince Akeem, son of King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) from the fictional African nation of Zamunda. Akeem traveled to Queens in New York City with his friend Semmi (Arsenio Hall) to find himself a bride. While working a menial job at a local fast food, he met and fell in love with Lisa (Shari Headley), daughter of his employer Cleo McDowall (John Amos).
This sequel opens 30 years later after the royal wedding. Akeem was still the crown prince of Zamunda. He and Lisa had three spunky daughters, Meeka (KiKi Layne), Omma (Bella Murphy) and Tinashe (Akiley Love). When King Jaffe was on his deathbed, Semmi revealed that Akeem actually had a bastard son Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler) in New York with a random woman Mary Junson (Leslie Jones) during one drugged night of passion.
Lavelle was brought to Zamunda to train for his role as the heir to the throne, much to the dismay of Princess Meeka, who could not be queen because of ancient traditions to the contrary. Meanwhile, General Izzi (Wesley Snipes) of Nexdoria was pressuring Lavelle to marry his daughter Bopoto (Teyana Taylor) to unite their nations. However, Lavelle was falling for the charms of his personal hair groomer Mirembe (Nomzamo Mbatha).
Given the 33 long years between the release of the first and second films, this sequel banked a lot on its nostalgia factor. Murphy and Hall are back, not only as Akeem and Semmi, but as all their side characters with prosthetics. Aside from Headly, Amos, and the great James Earl Jones, we also see Paul Bates as royal servant Oho (who gets to sing again here), Louie Anderson as Maurice (still a McDowell's employee) and even Vanessa Bell as Gen. Izzi's sister Imani (whom we last saw hopping on one leg and barking like a dog). There were also several fun surprising cameo appearances which are better left unspoiled.
The story of this sequel followed the same general theme as the first one, about deciding to follow one's own dreams despite what others dictate. Original writers Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield along with Kenya Barris to create a new spin on the basic story, adding elements to address current issues of woman empowerment.
Under the direction of Craig Brewer, best known for "Hustle & Flow" (2005), this new film basically redid the best comic moments of the first film, but it did have some effective heartwarming moments.
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."