Coming to America

From Academic Kids

Coming to America is a 1988 film starring Eddie Murphy as the prince of a fictitious monarchic African state called Zamunda. It was written by Murphy with David Sheffield and Barry W. Blaustein, and it was directed by John Landis.

Zamunda is ruled by King Jaffe Joffer (played by James Earl Jones), and it is the home of Prince Akeem (Murphy) and his royal servant, Semmi (Arsenio Hall).

Faced with the prospect of an arranged marriage to a woman he has never met, Akeem pleads with his father, the king (James Earl Jones), to be allowed to go to the United States to find a bride of his own choosing.

His father misunderstands him and believes that the prince wishes to "sow his royal oats" before settling down with his arranged bride. The prince and his best friend set off to New York, and Akeem picks the area of Queens as the best place to look for potential brides.

Murphy and Hall pretend to be African exchange students so that people will not treat them differently for their royalty. Eventually Murphy meets a girl that is the daughter of the owner of the fast food restaurant that he and Semmi work at. It takes a while to win her over but he does and they fall in love. After she finds out who Murphy really is, she is at first upset that he lied. At the end, love prevails and the two are married as the new King and Queen.

One part of the film has four old men discussing everything from boxers to how to go out with ladies. The Jewish white man is played by Eddie Murphy, despite huge questioning. Rick Baker is responsible for the fantastic make up effect to achieve this. Murphy also plays the lead singer of the band Sexual Chocolate.

This movie includes cameos of two characters from the movie Trading Places (which also starred Eddie Murphy and was directed by John Landis): the Duke brothers, Randolph and Mortimer. At the end of Trading Places, the Duke brothers were made bankrupt. In Coming to America, the brothers are now homeless and living on the streets. Prince Akeem gives them a paper bag filled with a large sum of money - enough to get them off the streets again. Strangely enough, neither of the Duke brothers mention the fact that Akeem looks exactly like one of the men who bankrupted them.

The film was the subject of the Buchwald v. Paramount lawsuit, filed by Art Buchwald against the film's producers on the grounds that the film's idea was stolen from a 1982 script that Paramount had optioned from Buchwald. Buchwald won the lawsuit and was awarded damages; Paramount settled with Buchwald, unwilling to risk an appeal.


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