It’s taken a while but I have FINALLY watched Coming to America
Coming to America the story of Akeem Joffer, a prince from the fictional African country of Zamunda who travels to America in the hope of finding a woman who will love him for who he is rather than the title he holds.
The performances in this movie are not that out there considering the ostentatious nature of the story, and I like it. The ridiculousness of the story stands on its own without over-the-top performances. If it had both, it would have taken the heart out of the story.
This is Eddie Murphy’s movie and I mean that in every sense of the word. He not only plays Akeem Joffer, he also plays four other characters with varying levels of success and likeability. However, given how much time you actually spend with those side characters, the annoying ones don’t bother you that much. Akeem is the character you care about the most and his performance is not only funny but it’s heartwarming and that makes the movie more entertaining to watch.
The other performance that makes this movie worth watching is Arsenio Hall. Him and Eddie Murphy have great chemistry and play off each other perfectly. Even though Semmi works for Akeem, they are friends and act like it. It grounds the movie by giving us a human relationship amidst the extravagance of the Zamunda.
There was no way I was going to mention performances in this movie and not mention THE James Earl Jones. JEJ is ALWAYS a win. He could have been in the movie for two minutes and read out the first twenty definitions in a dictionary and I would still commend it. In all seriousness, King Jaffe is a great character. While he is a comedic character, there is also an air of seriousness to him that can only be attributed to James Earl Jones.
I was surprised to find out that this movie is an original story. While I don’t think the story would have made waves now, when it was released, it would have been something that was new especially considering how the movie addresses Africa and Africans. And this is where I have some contention.
I understand that this movie was made and released in the ’80s, however, it is still jarring to hear all the Africa jokes. It’s very obvious that this movie was made by people who didn’t write the story with an African audience in mind. And as an African (Nigerian to be specific) it is a little jarring. That being said, I am more inclined to forgive given when the movie was made.
I will commend the writers for one thing though…Making Akeem relatable. Even though he is a prince who can have his every whim catered to, he is kind and honest. And you find that you are rooting for a good person.
You don’t need to me talk about how gorgeous the costume design is for this movie because it is common knowledge. We’ve all seen this iconic look
What I like the most about the set design is the distinct difference between Zamumda and New York. Yes, they are two completely different places but there are visual differences that go beyond the set design on costume design and these subtle changes make the movie more interesting to watch.
I’m going to be honest I expected more from the soundtrack. While the score and sound design in Zamunda is good and fitting for the location, I felt like there would be… more. While the sound design of the movie isn’t bad (quite the opposite), the soundtrack could have had more going on.
Believe it nor not this is the first time I’ve watched Coming to America. It is one of those movies that I’ve always wanted to watch but never did.
Fun fact, I’ve been planning to watch it for Throwback Thursday since I started this series and I never did. However, I can finally say that I have watched (and reviewed) Coming to America and I enjoyed it a lot.
What makes Coming to America a classic is its heart. While it is a comedic movie, there are genuine moments. It is a relatable story of a man who wants to forge his own path rather than the one that has been preordained for him.
The jokes are also delivered in a subtle manner. I am watching the sequel as I write this and the jokes in that movie are a lot more in your face. (However, that is a whole review in and of itself.)
This movie though? It gets a thumbs up from me and I would definitely watch it again.
Originally published at https://www.thecinematicaficionado.com on April 8, 2021.