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It has been a long 31 years since Eddie Murphy introduced Prince Akeem to the U.S. in 1988's Coming To America. But the crown prince of Zamunda will be coming back once more when Coming To America 2 arrives in theaters everywhere next December. While there are no guarantees in this business, especially when it comes to comedy sequels, there are several reasons why I'm excited to see Murphy reprise his famous role in this film.
It's always hard for comedies to recapture the spark of the original, especially when it has literally been decades since they first played the characters in question. There are several sequels (that won't be named) to famous comedies which have fallen short of finding the joy and laughter that came plentifully from their predecessors. Will Coming To America 2 (which may or may not be called Coming 2 America) fall into this same deathtrap? Only time will tell. For now, though, there are several reasons why we're excited to see Eddie Murphy's big return to the big screen, starting with the comedian himself.
Eddie Murphy Returns To The Big Screen, Playing One Of His Most Beloved Characters
While Eddie Murphy was once one of the high-grossing comedy actors in Hollywood, and was given a number of big-budget movies to headline based on his established star power, those days have since dwindled. The A-list actor stumbled in the 21st century, making a number of underwhelming films like I, Spy, The Haunted Mansion, Norbit, Meet Dave and The Adventures of Pluto Nash, to name a mere few of his misfires, which soured his reputation as a bankable star.
Since then, Eddie Murphy has appeared occasionally on the big screen, in films like Tower Heist, A Thousand Words, and the indie drama Mr. Church, but his output has been much more limited than it was in years prior, and there's a good chance folks haven't seen all of his latest titles.
Although there was perhaps a point in time where a new Eddie Murphy comedy might've inspired groans, enough time has passed since his last studio comedy that audiences are likely eager to see Murphy in a big way on the silver screen. Sure enough, in addition to Netflix paying Murphy a ludicrous amount of money for a pair of new stand-up specials, Paramount is finally getting the ball rolling on Coming 2 America, which has been teased for at least the past couple of years.
Given the amount of time that has passed between the original and this in-the-works sequel, one would hope that Murphy won't simply half-ass this return to his famous character. Given the amount of time Murphy has spent away from the bright beaming spotlight, if this project does well, it could bring the Eddie Murphy back in a major way, and perhaps even give him the return to glory he needs.
It Has A Good Director In Craig Brewer
The original Coming To America was directed by famous filmmaker John Landis, but he is not set to return to the director's chair for the sequel. Rather, Coming To America 2 will bring Craig Brewer into the fold to make this long-proposed sequel a reality. While Brewer isn't necessarily a household name filmmaker, he has proven himself through several different films, including — most notably — his sophomore film, Hustle & Flow.
The Oscar-nominated music drama is quite easily among the director's most acclaimed films, alongside his directorial debut, 2000's The Poor & Hungry. But he has also earned praise for his third film, Black Snake Moan, and his fourth film, the underrated Footloose, was better than it could've been. Since then, he hasn't been working quite as consistently, though he did direct several episodes of Fox's Empire. He is currently in post-production on the new Netflix biopic, Dolemite Is My Name, which stars Eddie Murphy.
Clearly, if Craig Brewer were asked to make this picture, that speaks to the confidence that Eddie Murphy has in this filmmaker, and it should also hopefully suggest that Murphy's next film is gonna be a winner. While Brewer isn't as experienced as a comedy director compared to his dramas, his talent and experience and work with Murphy should hopefully guide him into making a sequel that is befitting and worthy of the comedy classic from the late '80s, and one that makes the wait feel warranted too.
A Talented Screenwriter Is Writing The Sequel
In the past few years, screenwriter Kenya Barris has proven to be a tremendous talent, writing some of the biggest comedies of the past few years. His biggest accomplishment to date remains being the creator of the popular and acclaimed ABC sitcom Black-ish, and Barris is also the creator of its spin-off series, Grown-ish. He is also one of the creators behind America's Next Top Model, so it's safe to say that he's been making a name for himself in television for quite some time now. In addition to his television credits, he has also been fostering some noteworthy film comedies.
Notably, Kenya Barris is one of the screenwriters behind Girls Trip, and he also had a hand in writing Barbershop: The Next Cut, which is another long-in-the-works sequel that earned strong notices and favorable reviews. While his most recent comedy, Shaft, was neither a critical or commercial hit, it is clear that this screenwriter is a proven talent, and he's also behind-the-pen of Robert Zemeckis' upcoming adaptation of The Witches. Since he's the writer of this sequel, moviegoers can be assured the team behind Coming to America 2 is making sure this long-awaited movie is in good hands.
James Earl Jones And Arsenio Hall Are Reprising Their Roles (And Wesley Snipes Is Joining The Cast!)
One of the biggest questions with sequels is whether or not the creators can bring back the original stars. Especially with the long amount of time in-between the first Coming to America and Coming 2 America, there are many people wondering if the movie can bring back the cast of the original hit film. It's not as easy now as it was before. Thankfully, though, it's been revealed that James Earl Jones and Arsenio Hall are set to reprise their roles.
Both actors played critical roles in the original film, and it wouldn't be the same if either of them missed out on the sequel. Thankfully, the filmmakers agree, and they've gotten these stars to sign on the dotted line and return to play their original roles. It should also be noted that Shari Headley is also currently expected to return to the movie as well, which is another sign of confidence. Additionally, it was revealed earlier today via TheWrap that Wesley Snipes will also be joining the cast, which is an exciting turn-of-events. The actor wasn't in the original, but he did work with Eddie Murphy and director Craig Brewer on Dolemite Is My Name, which is hopefully yet another sign of confidence for that forthcoming Netflix biopic coming soon.
This Sequel Can Address Some Pressing Social Topics
When it comes to sequels, there's always the question of "why" something is being remade. Obviously, there are a ton of sequels made solely to capitalize on the success of the original film. But it's clear that from the three decade gap between Coming to America and its proposed sequel that nobody wants to make this movie simply to profit off their previous success. They want a good reason to make this new film. There's a chance that today's big headlines could provide the filmmakers and stars with the creative fuel they need to feel inspired to make this sequel, and hopefully make it something worthy of the first film.
For example, making a comedy that could even briefly dabble into a deep and sensitive topic like immigration could hit some pain points, but there is also the possibility this comedy could provide some much-need perspective to a major topic in society, and the filmmakers will use the art of comedy to bring it to the masses in a bold and hopefully thoughtful way. Given the talents of the writer and director on-board for this project, there's a good chance that this comedy could spark not only big laughs but some interesting discussions too.
Making a good comedy is never a certainty. It's often considered the hardest genre to do well for a reason. Comedies take a whole lot of hard work from talented people, and they only occasionally succeed. Therefore, there is certainly the danger of getting a sequel to Coming to America that isn't worth the long wait. Still, for the reasons listed above, along with some others we haven't mentioned, there is certainly a lot of promise and hopefully a lot of potential to make Coming 2 America something special. One hopes that's the case when the sequel arrives in theaters on December 18th, 2020.