Enter the fish out of water and King of Queens, Lavelle Junson (Jermaine Fowler). The film depicts the New Yorker attempting to prove he is worthy of ruling a country he has never visited and knows nothing about.
Leslie Jones proves to be a highlight in the film; her infectious excitement combined with her motherly affection makes for a treat to watch
Despite the older cast having their roles severely reduced, the new cast members prove their worth in their amazing chemistry, not just with each other, but the older cast members too. Fowler’s portrayal of Lavelle is immediately likeable, demonstrating strong chemistry with his onscreen parents and love interest, endearing viewers to the young prince. Similarly, Leslie Jones proves to be a highlight in the film; her infectious excitement combined with her motherly affection makes for a treat to watch.
The film creates problems for itself with its attempted evolution. Despite the central dilemma being whether a female should be allowed to ascend the throne, the film underutilises its female cast that have already more demonstrated their value. Lisa and Lavelle are both from Queens before becoming Zamunda’s royalty, but they never interact. Surely the stepmother could help her stepson with his culture shock having possibly experienced the same thing?
The rift between Lisa and Akeem, resulting in her friendship with Mary (Leslie Jones) and her disgust that Akeem overlooked their daughter to become queen, isn't greatly explored. Perhaps more screen time would have benefitted these relationships, as well as the film's handling of modernity
For all that, the film more than earns praise in its costume and hair design. Immediately noticeable is the effort and talent gone into the female cast’s African-American hairstyling, resulting in gorgeous and intricate presentations. The costuming deserves no less praise, with the film’s aesthetic providing viewers with amazing pieces that both stand out and blend so well with the projected culture of Zamunda.
The overreliance on expendable, shock-value dialogue and recreating former jokes leaves the film lacking a comedic sense of self, which is disappointing considering the strong cast and enjoyable plot. It’s a hard task as to improve the film needs to both look to the past and the future. Perhaps the rumoured third film will strike the balance!