Coming to America


by Tuna

Coming to America (1988) is a romance/comedy starring Eddie Murphy and a supporting role from Arsenio Hall, each of whom played four different roles in the film. Murphy is the prince of an imaginary African nation, and meets his arranged bride on his 21st birthday. She has been raised since birth to be his bride, and has been carefully trained to think what he thinks, like what he likes, etc. He is not pleased, so he convinces the King (James Earl Jones) to let him take a trip and sow his royal oats in Queens, New York, where he intends to meet a woman who will "arouse his mind as well as his loins." Arsenio Hall goes along as his servant.

After a predictably futile search in bars, he finds the girl of his dreams, the daughter of a fast food entrepreneur. The prince takes a job as custodian in the restaurant, but finds he must compete with a rich brat whom she has been seeing. The prince wants her to fall in love with him while thinking he is poor, but Arsenio keeps doing things that threaten to ruin their poverty charade, like remodeling their slum apartment.

Basically, this is a Cinderella story, and female lead Shari Headly was perfect in the role. Eddie Murphy played the prince role seriously, or as seriously as he could, given the plot, and it worked for him. It was a relief not to see the same old crude character he often plays. Nearly every living black actor of any merit was part of the supporting cast. Arsenio won several awards and nominations, and even my ol' hero, Samuel L., had a cameo as a holdup man.

This film works either as a comedy or as a romance, which probably explains the wide appeal that generated $289M worldwide.



Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


It is really on the C+/B borderline, with 60% positive reviews and $125 million domestic gross. If that represented the consensus of its contemporary critics, it would be a B-, but contemporaneous reviews were actually quite negative.


  • Widescreen anamorphic (16:9)

  • Prince-ipal Photography: The Coming Together of America

  • Fit For Akeem: The Costumes of Coming To America

  • Character Building: The Many Faces of Rick Baker

  • Composing America: The Musical Talents of Nile Rodgers

  • A Vintage Sit-Down with Eddie and Arsenio

  • Photo Gallery


It was nominated for Oscars for costumes and makeup.

3 BBC (of 5 stars)
60 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)
  BUT. It is rated 0% by the "cream of the crop" critics.



6.7 IMDB summary (of 10)


Box Office Mojo. It was budgeted at $28 million for production, and grossed more than $120 million in the United States alone.



  • There is nudity from three women in the "bath" sequence in Africa. Victoria Dillard and Felicia Taylor show their breasts. Midori shows her bum.