Coming to America is one of Eddie Murphy's most popular films, so the sequel was a highly anticipated affair. Now that the movie is here, it's largely been seen as just fine. The movie is getting lukewarm reviews at best, and critical reception on Rotten Tomatoes is barely over 50%. Clearly not everybody loves the film, there are potentially valid reasons for these criticisms. Director Craig Brewer will likely take the negative responses in stride, but there's one criticism that he does take issue with even though he fully expected to hear it: the fact that the movie is not rated-R.
The original Coming to America was rated-R but the sequel received a PG-13 rating from the MPAA, Director Craig Brewer spoke with our own Reelblend podcast and he spoke about seeing the reaction to the rating prior to the film's release. In the end, he felt that the PG-13 rating simply suited this story better and there was no need for it to be rated-R. Brewer explained,
We made a movie that was not necessarily bound by our rating. But it's funny because I noticed that, you know, I'm like everybody else. I’ll look at Twitter and online, and people going, ‘Oh my God, what a travesty. This movie’s PG 13 and they've ruined it.’ But I would just argue that that’s not really true. If you're really a fan of the first Coming to America … it has a little bit of this fairy tale theme. But the fairy tale element in the first movie that was so great was that Eddie's Akeem was very innocent and naive and gentle, but he came to Queens and Queens was not. [laughs] and he loved everything that was even awful about Queens. And that was the humor in it.
While the original Coming to America is rated-R, it's actually one of the tamer Eddie Murphy movies from the era where he was at his peak of fame. There's a bit of nudity at the beginning of the film that is only vaguely sexual, and while the language is there (including F-bombs), Murphy himself only says the word once. This is part of that "fairy tale theme" that Craig Brewer is talking about Akeem is so innocent that that he doesn't use language like that, nor is he focused on sex.
And Eddie Murphy and Craig Brewer wanted to recapture that fairy tale element in the sequel, and so there was simply no need to push the elements that would have given the film an R-rating. Brewer explains that Murphy himself was entirely on board with this idea and one was one of its major proponents. Brewer continued,
One thing that Eddie was always really big on was, ‘Hey, man, don't get caught up in this crude thing.’ We'd just made Dolemite. And we laid into that. But now, he was like, ‘Just remember, we want to capture that fairytale feeling that was in the original movie.’ And so, the more we tested it, the more it just felt better in this pocket.
At the end of the day, if Coming 2 America isn't a great movie, it's not because of the rating. The first movie likely could have been made PG-13 and been just as good, and if you think Coming 2 America isn't great, making it R-rated is unlikely to solved any of the issues. Even if the same pair made a great movie together that was much more mature.