Late to Zamunda! A review of Coming to America

Late to Zamunda! A review of Coming to America

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.

LTTM review:

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.


  • Love that you…loved the costumes. Not only are they awesome, they were Oscar-nominated Awesome (lost to Dangerous Liasons). Makeup/Visual Effects god Rick Baker got a nom (Beetlejuice won) for his work as well.

    As much as I obviously love the Randy Watson scene, I think the single funniest moment of the movie is when Arsenio answers the door and screams at James Earl Jones.

    Don’t let your non love of CtA push back watching Trading Places, as I said, it is the better movie and you can find out why those two bums are so funny to Kevin…

    I knew you’d love Samuel L., but no mention of Dr. Benton in a Jheri curl or Cuba Gooding Jr. in one of the barbershop scenes? I’l chalk it up to Arsenio Facial Trance…

    • Honestly, I didn’t even notice CG, jr. But I don’t really have that much love for him so…oh well. Dr. Benton however was a big deal. That is a sexy, sexy man with sexy, sexy hair.

  • first off: awesome site! I love that you are watching these movies and your reviews are great.

    I think it’s interesting because a lot of the reason I LOVE this movie now is because when I was younger and saw it for the first time I thought it was hilarious; Arsenio in drag was funny to younger me which makes it funny now. I don’t think seeing Trading Places first would have made you like this MORE per-say (other than get a few of the extra jabs/jokes) but I think it’s more of WHEN you’re watching the movies that has a bigger affect on how you feel about them. Which actually makes me like your experiment even MORE because how many movies did we see for the first when we were young would have the same impact on us now? or visa versa!
    Anyway, keep up the good work.
    signed, captain obvious.

  • Pingback: A Disturbance in the Force | Late to the Movies

  • What?!! A review of “Coming to America” and not a single mention of Sexual Chocolate?!! (Those boys are good… good and terrible). And what about Eriq LaSalle (“ER”) in that Soul Glo commercial? By the way, is “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” on your list?

    • Eriq LaSalle, swoon. I thought any mention of Sexual Chocolate was too obvious, and if there’s one thing I don’t want to be… it’s obvious. (What does that even mean?)


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