Coming to America (1988)

Coming to America (1988)

Before Eddie Murphy started making questionable films where he acted most of the roles (The Nutty Professor II, Norbit), Eddie Murphy was making less questionable films where he acted most of the roles.

In Coming to America, Murphy plays Prince Akeem, heir to the throne of the prosperous African country Zamunda. On his 21st birthday, his father (James Earl Jones) plans Akeem's arranged marriage. Determined to find a wife who is both his intellectual equal and who will appreciate him for more than just his money, Akeem heads to New York with his trusty servant Semmi (Arsenio Hall).

Coming off the back of his start in stand-up comedy, the late 1980s and early 1990s was peak-Eddie Murphy where everything he touched turned to gold. Whether it be Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop or Billy Ray Valentine in Trading Places, Murphy brought a new style of comedy with his loveable-but-grounded clowns.

While Murphy teams up again with Trading Places director John Landis, Coming to America is the first film to be written by Murphy and it really showcases his humour to the full, including one memorable scene where he and co-star Arsenio Hall play all the characters in a barber shop.

Like many Murphy films, Coming to America is both the platform for, and a showcase of, black acting talent. James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair play the King and Queen (which, incidentally, they also do in The Lion King), and Samuel L. Jackson makes a traditional cameo, in what is one of his first acting roles.

The film itself is not perfect by any means; the intro music will put off many people, and the story and cinematography has not aged particularly well. But, as an early showcase for Murphy's work (before he started making weird films), this is one to watch.

4 stars


  1. I had immediately gone back to rewatch this movie after seeing the sequel. Was surprised by how well it has stood the test of time.


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