Royal Revisit
New York magazine|March 15 - 28, 2021
A sequel squeaks by with just enough gags and a lot of nostalgia.
By Bilge Ebiri

IT’S HARD TO IMAGINE what someone who hasn’t seen the original Coming to America—which, let’s not forget, came out 33 years ago—would make of its sequel. It’s been more than a few years since Hollywood’s obsession with franchising everything prompted the industry to start reaching back to titles from the 1980s and ’90s. But at least new films like Mad Max: Fury Road and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle attempt to reinvent and redefine (I am trying very hard not to say “reboot”) their stories and characters for the current moment.

By contrast, Coming 2 America, which premiered on Amazon Prime Video this month, practically demands encyclopedic recall of the original; it exists mainly as a vessel to reunite characters and redo classic bits from the first Coming to America (which, by the way, is also currently and conveniently available on Prime Video). That’s kind of the key to the new film’s rickety charm, even if that means it’s doomed to live forever in the shadow of the megasuccessful original.

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