When Coming To America made its debut on June 29th, 1988, it signaled a seismic shift in the art and career of Eddie Murphy. He was already Hollywood’s biggest and most bankable star, having transitioned from Saturday Night Live and stand-up comedy to blockbuster films like 48 Hours, Trading Places and Beverly Hills Cop, among others.
30 Years of Coming To America
But when the story of Prince Akeem coming to Queens to find his bride-to-be hit movie theaters, there was an undeniable celebration of Blackness that was a clearly defined departure from Murphy simply playing the street-wise, hilarious and affable Black unicorn and buddy to a white counterpart.
And few could have foreseen the impact the film would have on contemporary audiences thirty years after the fact.
All the barbershop scenes from Coming to America. (Also includes a short clip on the street with Clarence, the barber.)
To this day, I have little trust for anyone that can’t randomly quote certain lines from the film. Among my favorites are –
“Good morning, my neighbors!”
“See, they’re McDonald’s… I’m McDowell’s. They got the Golden Arches, mine is the Golden Arcs. They got the Big Mac, I got the Big Mick.”
“Yeah, I met Dr. Martin Luther King in 1962 in Memphis, Tennessee. I walkin’ down the street minding my own business, just walkin’ on. Feelin’ good. I walk around the corner, a man walk up, hit me in my chest, right. I fall on the ground, right. And I look up and it’s Dr. Martin Luther King. I said ‘Dr. King?’ and he said ‘Ooops, I thought you were some body else.'”
Coming to America movie clips: http://j.mp/1utJD1a BUY THE MOVIE: http://amzn.to/txroDM Don’t miss the HOTTEST NEW TRAILERS: http://bit.ly/1u2y6pr CLIP DESCRIPTION: King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) pays a visit to Akeem’s (Eddie Murphy) apartment in Queens, and catches Semmi (Arsenio Hall) off guard.
“I got a special treat for ya’ this evening, a young man that you all know as Joe the Policeman from the “What’s Going Down” episode of “That’s My Momma.”
“Oh there they go. There they go, every time I start talkin ’bout boxing, a white man got to pull Rocky Marciano out their ass. That’s their one, that’s their one. Rocky Marciano. Rocky Marciano. Let me tell you something once and for all. Rocky Marciano was good, but compared to Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano ain’t shit…Joe Louis had come out of retirement to fight Rocky Marciano! The man was seventy-six years old! Joe Louis always lied about his age! He lied about his age all the time! One time, Frank Sinatra came in here, and sat in this chair. I say, “Frank, you hang out with Joe Louis. Just between me and you, how old is Joe Louis?” Know what Frank told me? He said “Hey, Joe Louis is a hundred thirty-seven years old.” A hundred and thirty-seven years old!”
Coming to America movie clips: http://j.mp/1utJD1a BUY THE MOVIE: http://amzn.to/txroDM Don’t miss the HOTTEST NEW TRAILERS: http://bit.ly/1u2y6pr CLIP DESCRIPTION: Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and Semmi (Arsenio Hall) take action when a robber (Samuel L. Jackson) tries to hold up the McDowell’s where they work.
“It would be wise for you to put the weapon down. Please refrain from using any further obscenities in the presence of these people. I’m warning you. I will be forced to thrash you.”
“He helped Joshua fight the battle of Jericho, he helped Daniel get out the lion’s den, he helped Gilligaaaaaan, get off the island.”
“Oh sir, the Giants of New York took on the Packers of Green Bay. And in the end, the Giants triumphed by kicking an oblong ball made of pigskin through a big “H”. It was a most ripping victory.”
“All right, here we are. There’s only one bathroom on this floor, so you’re going to have to share it. We got a bit of an insect problem, but you boys from Africa are used to that. And another thing, don’t use the elevator. It’s a death trap. This is the place I was telling you about. It’s real fucked up. Got just one window facing a brick wall. Used to rent it to a blind man… damn shame what they did to that dog.”
“A prince. He’s a prince. Oh, Lisa, you did it this time. You hit the jackpot. Your little goat herder makes Darryl look like a welfare case.”
“Vait a second, Vait a second! A man has got the right to change his name to whatever he wants to change it to. And if a man wants to be called Muhammad Ali, Goddamit, this is a free country, you should respect his wishes, and call the man Muhammad Ali!”
Uploaded by Matt Laufenberg on 2016-06-16.
Hardcore fans of Coming To America know those and many others, verbatim. But that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the phrases that have become embedded in the larger American cultural lexicon like, “Vaht is that, velvet?”, “Sexual Chocolate!”, “Yes! In dee face! and “That ain’t nothin’ but an ultra perm.”
And the film is the reason why people, many of whom were not even born in 1988, randomly sing, “Let Your Soul Glo” along with referring to one of the greatest leaders and thinkers that our country has ever produced as “Dr. Martin Luther THE King.”
Beyond the surface, the movie was much more than a simple comedy. Paula Abdul choreographed the wedding scene and the prolific Nile Rodgers scored the film.
Great song. Ripped from the DVD by me. For the complete score posted by me, go here – http://forums.ffshrine.org/f92/coming-america-complete-score-minor-sfx-93265/#post1745240
The cast included an exceptional array of characters with Samuel L. Jackson as the McDowell’s stick-up man, Cuba Gooding Jr. in his first major film appearance as a barbershop customer and the underappreciated collective brilliance of James Earl Jones as King Joffe Joffer, Arsenio Hall as Semmi/Morris in the Barbershop/Reverend Brown, John Amos as Cleo, Eriq LaSalle as Darryl and Frankie Faizon as the landlord, among many others.
And Murphy was at his diversified best in not only writing the story, but in playing Akeem, Saul The Jewish Man, Clarence The Barber and Randy Watson.
What many fail to realize is how bold Murphy was in terms of portraying the complexities and beauty of Blackness, while also stretching things back to Africa in a day and time where Hollywood was not enthusiastic about doing so.
From the 1988 movie “Coming to America”. Choreography : Paula Abdul Source: https://youtu.be/2_AjKpDGrvM?t=2m49s Choreography Assistants: Cindy Montoya & Aurorah Allain ***After noticing a lot of commentary on the authenticity of the dance not being from Africa I decided to add quotes to the title, “African” to avoid confusion.
Folks who were around at that time and following the film industry can easily recall the war that Spike Lee was waging for more representation, both in front of and behind the camera. But few give Murphy the props he deserves for making such a substantial contribution in the form of a film that was about and for Black people, which grossed over $300 million.
Lee called Coming To America, “…a serious move by Eddie Murphy to do a film by and about Black people.
Follow Me On: http://twitter.com/donthateonjord A funny clip from the movie, Coming to America with Eddie Murphy as he searches for an apartment to live in…
And the film’s Director, John Landis, once said during an interview, “…the thing with Coming to America was its silly, its a fairy tale. When Eddie pitched me the idea, it wasnt much of an idea, I realized this is going to be a black movie. I dont think anyone understands that there will be a couple of white people in it, but essentially its an African American movie. But the color had nothing to do with the plot. The plot was purely this love story, fairy-tale, and I realized this is an opportunity to do something really important that nobody will notice. It was the first big Hollywood movie where the characters skin was not part of the plotEddie plays the black guy in Beverly Hills Cop, he plays the black guy in Trading Places. Here, he just plays this guy. It was so successful; no one ever refers to that as an African American movie. Ever. Yet it has three speaking parts for white people. Every other speaking role is an African American.”
A prince leaves his charmed life behind to explore the United States and find a wife. Looking for more laughs? Check out http://www.youtube.com/c/Paramountvault Coming to America casts comedian Eddie Murphy as pampered African prince Akeem, who rebels against an arranged marriage and heads to America to find a new bride.
Zamunda was our Wakanda back in 1988, and few people realized the strength and seriousness of what Murphy accomplished underneath the comedy, characters and endlessly quotable lines that still bring smiles today. He created something everlasting while celebrating the various elements that make us laugh, and simply make us, well, us.
Folks from all walks of life love Coming to America. But its undeniable celebration of Blackness adds a hidden layer that not many are privy to, whether it be in our barbershops, our celebrations, our relationships or our own insular communities.
Oha sings a song for Akeem’s wedding
From Darryl’s family leaving jheri curl-juice stains on Cleo’s couch, to Reverend Brown’s spiritual intonations and call-and-response, to Randy Watson aka Jackson Heights’ Finest, to Oha singing “She’s Your Queen”, Coming To America is truly our own, unique treasure.
And it was one of the few times that those who loathe Blackness couldn’t help but appreciate and celebrate it, unbeknownst to them and to the chagrin of those who understood the monumental achievement that Eddie Murphy had pulled off.
Some might have initially dismissed the film as being nothing more than an ultra perm. They later came to realize that it was some supreme sexual chocolate.
And 30 years later, Murphy is still triumphantly laughing and screaming, “In dee face!!!”