Rating: 6.9/10 (115,916 votes) Director: John Landis Writer: Eddie Murphy (story), David Sheffield (screenplay), Barry W. Blaustein (screenplay) Stars: Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, John Amos Runtime: 116 min Rated: R Genre: Comedy, Romance Released: 29 Jun 1988
Plot: An African prince goes to Queens, New York City to find a wife whom he can respect for her intelligence and will.
John Landis never got even half as radical as he did with this timeless comedy classic, which casts Eddie Murphy as Prince Akeem of Zamunda, a fictitious African territory, who makes a pilgrimage to Queens, New York before he is to be married. Murphy came up with the story and partnered with screenwriters David Sheffield and Barry W. Blaustein to craft the story, which is primarily gleaned as a romantic comedy, as Akeem eventually falls for Shari Headley’s Lisa, daughter of a would-be fast-food magnate, McDowell (The West Wing’s John Amos). Like in many other films, Murphy plays a variety of characters – as does co-star Arsenio Hall – and each portrayal suggests a different route of the African experience in America and not for nothing is Akeem the most self-possessed of the lot. In this alone, Coming to America remains the most unique film in Landis’ oeuvre, and for Murphy, it’s the most ecstatic expression of his wild, hysterical, and politically acute perspective, which has sadly become increasingly hard to discern, especially following Bowfinger and Dreamgirls. — Chris Cabin