Eddie Murphy’s “Coming 2 America” is a comedy reboot that doesn’t shy away from callbacks. The sequel, which arrived last week, is loaded with references, innuendos and outright repeat jokes from the 1988 original, like the classic Mets jacket getup and even some recycled old footage. Some of the gags are hard to spot if you — like many viewers — were busy taking in the film’s lavish scenery and costume design, so we’ve got your guide to all the easter eggs you may have missed.
It helps that nearly all of the “Coming 2 America” cast reprised their earlier roles, including Murphy as King Akeem Joffer (and, of course, Sexual Chocolate frontman Randy Watson), Arsenio Hall as Joffer’s trusted confidant Semmi (and the unfortunate Reverend Brown) and Shari Headley as Queen Lisa McDowell. James Earl Jones even makes a brief reappearance as Akeem’s father, King Jaffe Joffer.
When the film begins, it’s almost an exact replica of the original’s opening, complete with three ladies-in-waiting scattering rose petals on the floor as a musical ensemble wakes up the royals. When King Akeem and Queen Lisa awake, one of their daughters wishes them a happy anniversary. It’s a perfect setup for Murphy to give a new spin on an iconic line by replying, “Yes, it is our anniversary!”
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Shortly after that, the movie launches into a sparring scene — but this time, it’s Akeem against his three daughters. It’s noted early in the film that McDowell’s is still around (despite all the lawsuits from Mickey D’s), though much to everyone’s chagrin, the first McDowell’s to open in Zamunda is serving plant-based burgers.
Wesley Snipes joined “Coming 2 America” to carry on the Izzi line of Zamundan rival kingdom Nexdoria. He plays General Izzi, the older brother of Imani Izzi (Vanessa Bell Calloway), whom Akeem abandoned at the altar years ago. While Snipes’ performance is fantastic, it also serves as a hilarious callback to Imani’s memorable canine-inspired performance in “Coming to America.”
In case you forgot, in the original movie, Akeem is presented with Imani Izzi as an arranged bride-to-be, and quickly finds out her obedience has no bounds — something he actually detests, and which sets him off on his journey to Queens to find a new wife. While he’s testing her, Akeem asks Imani to hop on one foot and bark like a dog — but he never told her to stop. So when General Izzi says he’s looking for revenge for his sister and that “she’s still like that,” we briefly see Imani, decades later, still barking and snarling at people. Thankfully, Akeem realizes his mistake and allows her to cut the act by the end of the film.
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Another easter egg for Murphy fans comes when Akeem’s son Lavelle is in New York applying for a job at D&D Digital Corp., as the scene sets up a covert reference to both “Coming to America” and the 1983 Murphy comedy “Trading Places.” D&D stands for Duke and Duke, and when Lavelle meets his interviewer Calvin Duke (Colin Jost), Calvin points out a painting of Randolph (Ralph Bellamy) and Mortimer Duke (Don Ameche) on the wall.
Those are the multimillionaires in “Trading Places,” and while they’re not around anymore, their company apparently still is. “Coming 2 America” director Craig Brewer said the painting is actually from the original “Trading Places” film. He told Business Insider, “We got that painting out of the vault at Paramount. They sent it to us. We just wanted to drive home that this is the Duke family business.”
Actually, Duke & Duke was set up back in “Coming to America,” when a homeless Randolph and Mortimer accept a wad of cash from a stressed Akeem. Evidently, Akeem’s princely loan helped the Dukes get back on their feet.
And of course, there had to be one scene in the film that never changed. The My-T-Sharp Barbershop, still open after 30 years, remains home to the same tight-knit group of old men who sit around debating boxing and cracking wise. My-T-Sharp is the first place Akeem Joffer sets foot in once he arrives in Queens in “Coming to America,” and likewise, it’s the first place he goes when he returns to Queens three decades later to look for his long-lost son. Since the old men were pretty elderly in the original, it’s unclear exactly how they lived to see the sequel… but that’s a debate for another day.