Coming 2 America

By Joanna Langfield

Brimming with good laughs and an even better heart, this sweet reunion couldn’t have come along at a better time.

Eddie Murphy’s gathered the gang in this 21st Century chapter of the story of Akeem, the about-to-be King of Zambuda. Now the happily married father (remember Lisa?) of three beautiful daughters, our Prince is told he must only pass on his royal crown to a male descendant. Dem’s da rules. And, it just so happens, back when Akeem and Semmi traveled to Queens, New York, to find a real love, Akeem accidentally fathered a boy, now an unaware young man, still living in Queens. So, off we go to bring the boy back and groom him for his eventual birthright.

There are no real surprises here except, maybe, how charming and enjoyable this all is. It’s just plain fun to spend time with Eddie, and especially the characters he plays throughout, Arsenio Hall, Shari Headley, John Amos, and James Earl Jones. And some fresh faces are on board, too, including (but not limited to, keep your eyes open!) Leslie Jones, Wesley Snipes, Kiki Layne, Tracy Morgan and a terrific Jermaine Fowler, who carries much of the show as the man who would be King.

There’s enough of the familiar to keep the story moving merrily along, including song and dance numbers and visits to the barbershop. But along with the repeated themes of being true to one’s self and respect one another comes a new bit of welcome business. And that’s a gentle but no so subtle reminder about equality between the sexes. Underneath that big happy grin, this mass appeal entertainment might turn out to be one of the most feminist pictures of the year.

Is this a high art film that’s going to change your life? No. But it’s a lot of fun and a warm celebration of a lot of good things. And couldn’t we all use a little bit of that right now?