Coming to America (1988). Film review of the comedy starring Eddie Murphy.

Image from the film Coming to America (1988)


star rating 3 out of 5 worth watching

Film review by Jason Day of Coming to America, the comedy starring Eddie Murphy as a spoiled African Prince who decides to live a life of poverty in New York in the hope of finding a woman who loves him and not his title. Directed by John Landis.

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Review, by @Reelreviewer

Film poster for Coming to America (1988)

Eddie Murphy, as if it needs to be said, loves to hog the camera. But not in terms of one performance – he usually ends up playing most of the roles.

Here, in a movie co-produced by his own company, he first started to completely take over the screen. It’s difficult to tell if he always gets that these are jokes and that his character is ridiculously privileged. Or, is he fulfilling some of sexual fantasy by playing this character, getting a vicarious thrill from it?

It was a sign of worse things to come, because where Coming to America is genial and inoffensive – and sometimes very funny – movies like The Klumps franchise are scraping the barrel efforts.

It’s a shame because, at his height, Murphy had few competitors as the 80’s comedy box office champ. But in the end, he overexposed himself and a sense of egotism and showing off in his films crept in.

He isn’t the only one as co-star Arsenio Hall – then a huge TV star in the states but little known in the UK – does just the same. Male, female and everything in between, he plays them all.

Out of both, Hall edges ahead of Murphy just with sheer energy and some of his comic skits are genuinely very funny and quote-tastic (Rev. Brown, Extremely Ugly Girl).

Only Jones could be so impeccably regal and slightly foolish at the same time without losing his mark.

The OTT African scenes, complete with a gospel song to announce the Prince’s intended bride (“Free from infection, to be used at your discretion!”).

Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy, the old toublemaking millionaire brothers in Murphy’s Trading Places (1983), reappear given a second chance to become rich again.

Cast & credits

Director: John Landis. 1hr 56 mins/116 mins. Paramount/Eddie Murphy Productions. (15)

Producers: George Folsey Jr., Robert D. Wachs.
Writers: David Sheffield, Barry W. Blaustein.
Camera: Woody Omens.
Music: Nile Rodgers.
Sets: Richard Macdonald.

Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Shari Headley, Eriq La Salle, Allison Dean, James Earl Jones, Madge Sinclair, John Amos, Paul Amos, Don Ameche, Ralph Bellamy, Frankie Faison, Samuel l. Jackson, Cuba Gooding Jr.


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