Prologue by Ryan Stites:
“Man, you lyin’. You ain’t never met no Martin Luther the King.”
While a lesser movie to its John Landis companion Trading Places (which probably should have been watched before this if for no other reason than a fun cameo near the end), it remains an absolute ’80s comedy essential. The last truly hilarious Eddie Murphy movie, it’s probably not an accident that this was the first movie where he channeled his inner Peter Sellers and played multiple roles. For someone that only knows the Murphy of Norbit or The Nutty Professor, the barbershop scenes might seem a little tired. For me, the lasting impact of the movie is Jackson Heights’ own Mr. Randy Watson (you might remember him from the “What’s Going Down” episode of That’s My Mama). Hopefully Murphy’s recent prosthetic performances don’t take away from just how hilarious that entire scene is.
On a “WHAT? You haven’t seen _____?!?” scale of 1-10, (10 being the highest level of shock, disappointment and sad),Coming to America gets a 5. Understandable, but still head-scratchingly missing.
I’ve only seen snippets of Eddie Murphy’s SNL magic, and while I’m thankful that I never got into the Nutty Professor/Dr. Dolittle series I realized that the only movies I’ve seen of his were Dreamgirls and Shrek. That’s why I thought it was important to see an Eddie Murphy movie and bumped it to the top of my list.
Coming to America had all of the ingredients to potentially be a favorite film. James Earl Jones, faux McDonalds, Oha’s ridiculous singing, best clothes in a movie EVER (specifically that Lion stole that JEJ wore), the entire club scene and Queens. But for some reason I didn’t love it like I thought I might.
Can I be honest for a minute? I think it was the prosthetic pieces that made me feel weird. I couldn’t enjoy the scene with Arsenio Hall in a lady outfit because….dude was in a lady outfit.
Maybe not, but I remembered laughing at a few points and enjoying myself while watching the movie and then reaching the end and thinking, “…that’s it?” I felt the same way about Princess Bride when I watched it for the first time two years ago. I liked it a lot, but after all of the hype coming from my friends about this movie I expected to absolutely love it. When I didn’t, I was reeeeeally disappointed. Adding to the confusion was the bit with the two homeless guys which made my boyfriend crack up. I guess this was a crossover from Trading Places, which made me wonder if I would’ve enjoyed the movie a ton more if I had seen that first.
Overall, I’d give it a good/great rating but not a great/great/great rating like I thought it would. And I’ll work on managing my expectations for future movies.
(PS I can’t believe the outline of the dog in that apartment. I did giggle quite a bit at that, and everyone knows how I feel about dead dogs.)
Face palm moment: I think I zoned out for part of the movie because I was focusing on Arsenio’s pointy chin. His facial shape had me in a trance. Maybe I should watch again?
Favorite part: Any part of a movie with Samuel L Jackson is automatically bumped up to “favorite part in a movie.” [see also: Jurassic Park] Second favorite part of the movie goes to Peaches…she’s the best.
The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment: “The royal penis is clean, your highness.” You have NO idea how many times I’ve heard that. OMG.
Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): After watching it, I enjoyed it and I’m glad I saw it… but I don’t really regret having not seen it until now. I’ll give it a 4.