In 2019, Ruth E. Carter won an Oscar for creating the fashions of Wakanda. It’s only fitting she would follow that by tightening her stitches on the attire of Zamunda, the other beloved cinematic African paradise first seen in 1988’s “Coming to America.” Under her masterful guidance, everyone in “Coming 2 America” looks spectacular, from the soon to be king, Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy), to the rose petal-throwing women once again led by Garcelle Beauvais. The results are hypnotic; you can’t take your eyes off the screen lest you miss some majestic pattern or a finely crafted angle of fabric rising in the air with true fierceness. Fashionistas rejoice, because as we say in my old neighborhood, Ruth E. Carter put her foot in it when she designed these outfits
Carter’s costumes are worth the price of admission. Just know that, once you pay, you will only be disappointed by everything else if you are a fan of the original film. Because even if you enjoy this completely unnecessary trip back to Zamunda, “Coming 2 America” cannot compete with its predecessor. Director Craig Brewer does the film no favors by flashing back to clips from the original, and screenwriters Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield team up with Kenya Barris to hit the same plot beats that made the first film so much fun. A sense of familiarity is often enough to keep the movie coasting on a sea of goodwill, but some of the plot ideas are bound to raise a few eyebrows and lower a few eyelids. There’s another against-all-odds love story, but this time, the lovers are far less interesting and charismatic than Akeem and Lisa (Shari Headley). And a comedy might be in trouble if you’re spending half of it wondering if a character has been sexually assaulted.