Blu-ray Review: COMING TO AMERICA (30th Anniversary Edition)

COMING TO AMERICA was directed by John Landis from a screenplay by David Sheffield and Barry W. Blaustein and stars Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Shari Headley, John Amos, Eriq La Salle, Madge Sinclair and James Earl Jones. The movie features a variety of cameos that include Samuel L. Jackson and Cuba Gooding Jr., as well as Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy from Trading Places.

Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is the prince of a wealthy African country and wants for nothing, except a wife who will love him in spite of his title. To escape an arranged marriage, Akeem flees to America accompanied by his persnickety sidekick, Semmi (Arsenio Hall), to find his queen. Disguised as a foreign student working in fast food, he romances Lisa (Shari Headley), but struggles with revealing his true identity to her and his marital intentions to his father (James Earl Jones) King Jaffe Joffer.

This 1988 comedy follows Prince Akeem who doesn’t want the traditional wedding that his native Zamunda offers so he decides to head to America to find his bride and he brings his best friend Semmi with him. The two naive visitors arrive in Brooklyn, New York where they attempt to disguise themselves as humble foreign students and pick up a job at McDowell’s, a fast food restaurant that’s eerily similar to McDonald’s. This is also where Akeem meets Lisa who he quickly falls for but unfortunately her sleazy boyfriend Darryl (Eriq La Salle) is in the way. Akeem plays it cool and takes his time and becomes friends with Lisa until he gets a chance to seize his opportunity and finally wins the heart of the young American woman.

While all of this is going on, Akeem and Semmi have several adventures in their new urban setting that cover everything from hilarious conversations in a barber shop to the difference in the customs and traditions America and Zamunda have from each other. We see how sleazy, manipulative and cowardly Darryl really is as the young gentleman from Zamunda slowly wins Lisa’s heart. Of course, her father Cleo McDowell (John Amos) isn’t too keen on Akeem and Lisa’s growing relationship but when he finds out that the Prince is filthy rich he immediately changes his mind. This kinda sends the wrong message here, doesn’t it? Anyway, it all works out in the end and the Prince finds his bride because Akeem and Lisa end up getting married.

The packaging comes with a slipcover/o-card. The front features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. The Blu-ray disc has a light blue finish and features the movie logo. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio for this 30th anniversary release.

Bottom line is, Coming to America was really the first comedy where Eddie Murphy took control and was more than just an actor playing a character. He felt like it was time for a departure so he came up with this story that allowed him to play a different kind of character. By this time Murphy had become a big star and was able to take some risks and this one definitely payed off for him and the studio because it was a huge box office success. The story was interesting but it did have a few flaws in it. I mean, Akeem wants to win the heart of this American girl so he takes on the identity of a humble foreign student but ends up being exposed as this rich Prince from Zamunda. The cast did a great job with their characters but it’s easily Murphy and Hall who put on these fantastic portrayals as multiple characters that range from an old white Jewish man (Murphy) to an overly aggressive woman (Hall), all courtesy of the special makeup effects by the one and only Rick Baker. Coming to America is another comedy classic that’s directed by John Landis who had previously worked with Eddie Murphy in Trading PlacesComing to America is celebrating its 30th anniversary and will be available on Blu-ray (plus Digital) on June 12th. If you don’t already have this one in your collection go ahead and add it because it’s priced to own.

Distributor: Paramount Home Media Distribution

Run Time: 116 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 / French Dolby Digital 2.0 / Spanish Dolby Digital Mono

Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

Special Features: The extras have been imported over from previous home video releases include four behind-the scenes and making of featurettes, vintage interviews, a photo gallery, theatrical trailer and a digital copy of the movie.

  • Prince-ipal Photography: The Coming Together of America (24:39)
  • Fit for Akeem: The Costumes of Coming to America (18:05)
  • Character Building: The Many Faces of Rick Baker (12:55)
  • Composing America: The Musical Talents of Nile Rodgers (11:09)
  • Vintage Sit-Down with Eddie & Arsenio (05:38)
  • Photo Gallery (08:50)
  • Theatrical Trailer (02:46)
  • Digital HD Copy
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