#10 Coming to America (1988)

I was hoping to have this appear much later in the list considering we just covered another of my favorite movies, but since it was on TV last night I figured why not? Coming to America is the story of the prince of a fictional affluent African country Zamunda and his decision to abandon the pampered life of a royal to find his bride in New York…sounds a little familiar. (Don’t worry, it’s nothing like that at all.)

Eddie Murphy is Prince Akeem Joffer a now 21-year-old man that has done very little on his own for he has others dedicated to perform his daily routines for him. He has a 10-piece orchestra for a morning alarm, beautiful young women bathing him every morning, a person to brush his teeth. His request to go to the bathroom on his own is even scoffed at and his wipers are summoned (I love that they added the ‘s’ to that, what a messy ritual). One day his parents present Akeem with his arranged bride trained to do anything he wishes. Fed up with having his life being lived for him, he decides to move to Queens (“what better place to find a queen…”) and takes his loyal, but reluctant servant Semmi (Arsenio Hall) along for the ride.

They find a rundown apartment in Long Island City and get jobs at a local restaurant McDowell’s (don’t you love the Internet) that looks oddly similar to a slightly better known chain. On the job, he meets Mr. Cleo McDowell’s daughter Lisa and instantly falls in love with her. Unfortunately she’s already involved with the son of the inventor of a popular hair product, so he’s got to find a way to sweep her off her feet. Semmi though is uncomfortable with this new lifestyle he’s been forced into and his attempts to recreate his home life are stunted by Akeem (by giving away all their money to some homeless men) to keep up his “poor foreign student” guise.

As Akeem is starting to get Lisa’s attention, Semmi requests money from the king who takes this as a sign of distress and decides to travel to New York himself. Due to a bit of a run-around King Jaffe and Queen Aoleon end up at the McDowell house where Lisa is finally made aware that Akeem the fast food restaurant employee/abroad student/goat herder was a prince. Lisa is now upset at Akeem and declines his marriage proposal on the F train. Dejected, Akeem and the royal family return to Zamunda and continue with the arranged marriage. After a change of heart brought on from the Queen’s desire to let her son be happy, Lisa is revealed to be Akeem’s bride after all.

This film is Eddie Murphy’s first attempt at his signature of performing as multiple characters in the same movie and at some points the same scene (especially impressive in the barber shop). So many great lines (“I tied my own shoes once. It is an overrated experience.”), great gags (the Jenks family leaving grease stains on the couch) and great characters (check out the Reverend Brown Service remix). Also doesn’t hurt to have Samuel L. Jackson yelling even if only for 90 seconds. It is one of the few movies I stop what I’m doing to watch when I realize that it’s on TV (last night that was getting to bed early).

(Super) Like It.

-Mikhail

P.S. Now that we’ve made it to #10, I really feel committed to getting through. Might have to pick up the pace a bit, but getting this far is an accomplishment already.

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