A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
Stands out for positive role models.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Coming 2 America is the hilarious sequel to the 1988 comedy classic Coming to America. Both star Eddie Murphy as Prince Akeem of the fictional African country of Zamunda. This movie circles back to all of the fan-favorite elements of the first one -- which means that if you want to watch it with your teens, they should probably see the R-rated original first. If you do, you'll likely find the content in this tamer refresh less worrisome. But know that sexual innuendo is laid on pretty thick, including flashing back to when Akeem unknowingly impregnated a woman (it's clear they have sex, but there's no nudity). The Royal Bathers are back, along with the suggestion of the very thorough job they do while cleaning. A consequential scene shows a less regal character smoking pot, characters get drunk, and there's a brief reference to past drug use by an unlikable character. Language is moderate (especially compared to the previous film) but includes "bitch" and "s--t." The original's message about respecting women and following your own path continues, but with an acknowledgment that the first film -- and Murphy and his generation -- didn't quite take those ideas far enough. The movie also plays on the idea that we're all capable of great things, no matter our origins.
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What's the story?
COMING 2 AMERICA revisits Akeem (Eddie Murphy) -- the main character of Coming to America -- as he becomes the king of Zamunda, an African paradise. The father of three daughters, he's bound by Zamundan law to have a male heir to the throne. When Akeem learns that he has a 31-year-old son, he and his loyal adviser, Semmi (Arsenio Hall), return to Queens to meet his firstborn and introduce him to his birthright. The all-star cast includes Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, Jermaine Fowler, Wesley Snipes, James Earl Jones, Colin Jost, and Louie Anderson.
Is it any good?
A few more wrinkles may crease their faces, but Akeem and Semmi haven't lost a single step in this laugh-out-loud sequel. The story flows like a babbling brook: It's nicely paced, it's gorgeous to look at, and it's music to the ears, at least for fans of the characters and the original. The comedy is a true accomplishment: There's quite a bit of business to take care of while also telling a fresh story, and less adept writers could get mired in the details. Almost all of the characters from the original movie appear, even if just for a moment, and all are given their moment so as to satisfy the audience's desire to know: Where are they now? At the same time, the film meets and exceeds the grandiosity, the pageantry, and the phenomenally creative and colorful costumes from the original (can we just hand costumer designer Ruth E. Carter an Oscar now?).
The reteaming of Murphy and Hall is absolutely delightful -- especially the winks to Murphy's other iconic roles. And the new characters in Coming 2 America are equally dynamite. In the latter part of his career, Murphy and director Craig Brewer's Dolemite Is My Name cast mate Wesley Snipes proves his creative range to be wickedly masterful. As General Izzi of Nexdoria, he's believably villainous while remaining hilarious. Hall hasn't lost his touch, either; he's unrecognizable as a new character: Baba, a wise shaman who is taken aback by the nonsense surrounding him. Murphy pulls in actors from the SNL roster to fill out the cast, and while Morgan and Jost are both spot-on, the scene stealer is Leslie Jones as Lavelle's no-filter mother. Expect this sequel to find as many fans as the original, if not more.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Coming to America is viewed as a landmark film, particularly in the history of Black-centered cinema. Do you think this sequel lives up to that legacy?
Why are positive media representations of underrepresented groups important?
The original movie was a "fish out of water" story, with two people from outside the United States observing (and thus satirizing) New York City culture. How does the sequel tell a fish out of water story, too?
How do elements like costumes, production design, dance, and even hair and makeup work together to create the movie's fictional nation?
One of Murphy's comical characters is an elderly White Jewish man. What is the cultural context for Murphy, a Black man, wearing White makeup and portraying a White man? What is the cultural context for a Black man portraying a Jewish man?
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