Izzi’s son is a possible match for Meeka, but she doesn’t want any part of him, thus failing to unite the two kingdoms. This is where Lavelle comes in. General Izzi has a daughter, Bopoto (Teyana Taylor), whose entry in the film is simply amazing. If Akeem had a male heir, he could marry him. After Baba (Arsenio Hall, once again) reveals the prophecy of a male heir and Semmi corroborates it, Akeem brings Semmi back to Queens to retrieve Lavelle. All of the Judsons, including father figure Uncle Reem (Tracy Morgan), are ready to buy off this odd man by saying he’s Lavelle’s daddy once they realize how rich Zamunda is. Mary certainly remembers him. I can only imagine that if this movie had been rated R instead of the punk-ass PG-13 it’s saddled with, this scene would have ended with a trip to “The Maury Show”.
Once Lavelle arrives at Zamunda, “Coming 2 America” plays out the story of the original by swapping the locations for its young hero. But it is much less effective. Queens is a real place, and the neighborhood Akeem found himself in was full of characters, places, and situations that would be familiar to black viewers. Much of the comedy in “Coming to America” stemmed from Akeem’s role as the audience stand-in, navigating a world we already knew and responding in puzzled and practically innocent ways. Everything about Zamunda in this movie is mostly the imaginations of its writers, and as a result, much is lost in terms of relatable humor. Make no mistake – I would still move to Zamunda in the blink of an eye despite its man-eating lions (who have a supporting role here) – but Lavelle is no Prince Akeem. Fowler has little of the sweetness or joy that Murphy brought to his first visit to Queens. Lavelle and her family appear to have stepped out of a Madea movie. It was shot at Tyler Perry Studios, so maybe I’m right.
There is also bad blood between Lavelle and Meeka, who is rightly pissed off that after all her training and education she is kicked to the curb in favor of a new aimless brother she just met. . You can see the end result of Meeka’s story arc a mile away, but the movie still forces her to almost immediately soften up to Lavelle and help her get her job done. There’s a lot of surface-level “girl power” in “Coming 2 America,” but it’s so shallow it’s kind of an insult to Akeem’s daughters. When Meeka finally unleashes her full powers in a gripping battle scene, she is usurped by the film’s intersection of her brother’s plot.