Coming to America – DVD Review

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John Landis


Eddie Murphy ………. Prince Akeem/Clarence/Randy Watson/Saul
Arsenio Hall ………. Semmi/Extremly Ugly Girl/Morris/Reverend Brown
James Earl Jones ………. King Jaffe Joffer
John Amos ………. Cleo McDowell
Madge Sinclair ………. Queen Aoleon
Shari Headley ………. Lisa McDowell
Paul Bates ………. Oha
Eriq La Salle ………. Darryl Jenks

The Movie

When an actor or comedian becomes famous for something they say or the way they act in a certain movie, it’s always interesting to look back at some of the earlier work. You may find out that the seeds for their success was planted early on in various bit parts in movies or TV shows. Eddie Murphy is known for a few things. One thing being that he loves to play different characters in the same movie. He became “famous” for it in the Nutty Professor. Yet nearly 10 years earlier, you could see Eddie Murphy doing the same sort of thing in a often forgotten comedy called Coming to America.

Eddie Murphy stars as a couple characters. His main character is Prince Akeem of Zamunda. It’s his 21st birthday and he must meet his future wife that is arranged by his family and her family. Akeem doesn’t like the thought of that, so he decides to break with tradition and move to Queens, New York City to find the true love of his life, a woman he wants to marry. In NYC, he is known as Randy Watson. To help with his search, Akeem’s best friend, Semmi (Arsenio Hall) comes along with him under the name Morris.

By the time this movie came out in 1988, Eddie Murphy had already proved that he could carry a movie by himself with his comedic ability in Beverly Hills Cop. All he needed was the right supporting cast around him. Oddly enough, Arsenio Hall, making his feature film debut in this movie was a perfect choice for Eddie’s partner in comedic crime. The rest of the cast does a decent job with what they are given, but Eddie and Arsenio really shine as a team and make this film funnier than it probably looks on paper.

The plot is a basic one: It’s a “fish out of water” story. You take a pampered rich prince from a foreign country and put him in New York City, where you have to work for everything you get. He has to learn about this new culture and survive without the help of parents. He does all of this while still trying to find a woman to marry. This plot is definitely raised to another level thanks to Eddie Murphy. He is wacky in this movie, but that’s a good thing. But this movie isn’t all about fun and games. Prince Akeem is a really complex character and Eddie shows off his “serious” side at times in this movie to portray the character correctly.

Coming to America may not be the most memorable comedy that Eddie Murphy has been in, but it’s definitely one of the betters ones and certainly the one with the most depth to it. The supporting cast does a respectable job of keeping pace with Eddie Murphy, but really it’s up to him to make this movie a success. He does so near flawlessly. If you thought The Nutty Professor was the first movie that showed that Eddie Murphy can play many different funny characters in the same movie, think again. Coming to America came before it and Eddie Murphy did it better in this movie.

The Video:

The video is presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs. The video is more than likely “improved” for this special edition and is given in widescreen format. There are really no problems with the video, considering the age of the movie.

The Audio:

The audio included is available in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, English 2.0 Surround sound, and French 2.0 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese as well. No problems real problems here either. In fact, I found the music to be great. There is music in this movie that you will recognize from future movies.

The Extras:

“Prince-ipal Photography: The Coming Together of America” Featurette
This featurette is basically the “behind-the-scenes” one. It talks about how the movie came to be, what it was like making the movie, casting choices, etc. Pretty informative stuff.

“Fit for Akeem: The Costumes of Coming to America” Featurette
This is obviously about the clothes worn in the movie, from the many characters that Eddie and Arsenio play to everyone else. Both the African and American culture is presented beautifully.

“Character Building: The Many Faces of Rick Baker” Featurette
This is more about Eddie Murphy and all of the characters he plays in the movie. Very interesting, since the makeup work in this movie was nominated for an Academy Award.

“Composing America: The Musical Talents of Nile Rodgers” Featurette
This is all about the music in the movie. The music is catchy and cheesy, but it’s pure 1980’s. Nile Rodgers was a great producer back in the 1960’s – 1980’s. As I said before, most of the music you here today can get it’s start from Nile Rodgers. This movie is another good example of that and this is very interesting to watch.

A Vintage Sit-Down with Eddie and Arsenio
This is an interview with Eddie Murphy and Arensio Hall to promote the movie back in 1989. This has not been seen since that time. So this is also very interesting to watch as the two have great chemistry off the screen as they do on the screen.

Photo Gallery
Standard click on the picture to view it stuff here. Nothing special. You’ve seen these images before.


Any Eddie Murphy fan will love this movie. It’s near the top of Eddie Murphy’s filmography, if not the very top. People remember Beverly Hills Cop the most, but Coming to America is equally as funny. It may be more of a “cult” comedy, but still it’s great and an easy addition to any DVD collection of comedy hits. There is even enough new special features to recommending getting this edition as well.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Coming to America
(OUT OF 10)