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Six Fun Reasons Why You Should Revisit 'Coming to America'

Features
by Nijla Mumin
April 3, 2013 3:05 PM
32 Comments
  • |
'Coming to America'

When thinking of early Eddie Murphy films, there are probably many that come tomind, but "Coming to America" is bound to be one of the first. Directed by John Landis, the 1988 film is a comedy about a prince from a fictional African kingdomwho ventures to America to find a wife. It's inaccurate in many ways, but hilariousin plenty of others. The film saw Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall at their comedicprime, taking on wildly different characters in a Queens, New York setting thatserved as a backdrop for the “culture shock” that their newcomers to the countryencounter. No matter how many times you’ve seen the film, there are certainmoments that bring uncontrollable laughter. Here are a few:

Soul Glo: This fictional hair product became synonymous with the infamous Jheri curl and with the sinister allure of Darryl (played by Eriq La Salle), whose family owns the brand. In Akeem (Murphy) and Semmi’s (Hall) introduction to Queens, they see a commercial for Soul Glo in which black people are struck by animated thunderbolts, delivering an illustrious sheen and wetness to their hair. Swinging their moist locks from side to side, a disastrously high-pitched vocal sings: "Just let your soul glow/ just let it shine through / put it on so silky smooth." More hilarious than the actual commercial is a scene where Darryl and his family—all equipped with Jheri curls—get up from sitting on a couch and leave three large oil stains on it. The camera stays on the Jheri curl stains for a good moment, and no one can deny the hilarity.

"She's your queen to be": With no instrumental accompaniment, this song is delivered at the highest pitch known to man by the adorable actor Paul Bates. With lyrics like: "She's your queen to be/ A vision of perfection / An object of affection / To quench your royal fire," the song was imitated in living rooms for years to come, and probably made its ways into more than a few mock marriage proposals.

"What is that, velvet?!?": A classic line from Saul, one of Eddie Murphy’s many elderly characters, when he feels real fur for the first time on the coat of the newly-arrived Akeem. With his thick Queens lisp and powdery face, he sits in a barbershop debating everything from boxing to the civil rights movement with the other men, providing Hakeem and Semmi with hilarious insight into the land they’ve just entered.

"The Greatest Love of All": Randy Watson and his band, aptly named Sexual Chocolate, perform to an unenthused crowd at a black awareness rally. As one of Murphy’s comic personalities, the singer plows through this Whitney Houston classic in a Jheri curl of his own and a tight, ruffled sky blue suit. Applause is scarce and scattered as he drops the microphone and walks off-stage. In the audience, one of the elderly men from the barbershop comments, "That boy good!" Another responds: "Yeah, good and terrible." That pretty much sums it up.

That dance scene: Feather headdresses, drums, flips and bodies flying through the air make this scene one of the best in the film. Choreographed by Paula Abdul, it comes suddenly, without expectation and gives the viewer a vibrant introduction into the fictional world "Coming to America" seeks to create. Shot wide, the precision of the choreography becomes grand and entrancing. When the film came out on VHS, it was definitely a "watch again" rewind moment.

The wedding: No matter how many times you watch this, Lisa's (played by Shari Headley) reemergence into the film during the final wedding scene is still one of the best surprises, after she rejects Akeem’s wedding proposal in a prior sequence. When Akeem pulls back the bride's veil and she's revealed in an elaborate pink wedding gown, a certain joy is felt. Shots of Lisa's father, Cleo (played by John Amos), standing on the throne with King Jaffe Joffer (played by James Earl Jones), make Akeem and Lisa's union all the more satisfying. Cultural and familial conflicts have all been resolved and we are excited for Lisa's acceptance of Akeem's royal lineage. What better ending to a film like this?

Are you laughing yet? Or better yet, just remembering? These are some of the standout moments in "Coming to America." What scenes, moments, or characters still make you laugh?

XFINITY On Demand™ is currently featuring comedy favorites, such as "Coming to America." Learn more, and join the celebration of Black entertainment at xfinity.com/celebrateblacktv.

Editor’s Note: Shadow and Act partnered with XFINITY to celebrate Black entertainment. Be sure to visit xfinity.com/celebrateblacktv, a unique digital community built around the love of Black TV, film, sports, music and more. Shadow and Act hopes to enrich this community and provide a launching pad for insightful discussion. Look to Shadow and Act for features and content examining and exploring key themes and topics that run throughout the history of Black entertainment.

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32 Comments

  • "Tamango | April 12, 2013 9:16 PMReply

    "This movie is a hilarious classic movie...my husband is African and this movie is one of our favorite. Another funny as hell sene in the movie when Akeem and Semmi first get off the plane
    at the airport and they try to hail a cab, and Akeem jumps out in front of the cab and put his hand out to stop it and the cab driver has to hit his brakes as he almost hit him...he jumps out the cab and yell...YOU DUMB FUCK! and once inside the cab Akeem looks at Semmi and say's
    "WHAT'S DUMB FUCK? This was funny as hell, you gotta love something this funny and classic.

  • Blackman | April 5, 2013 3:21 AMReply

    Whack as Fugg! Especially when you know reality.

  • Donella | April 4, 2013 12:57 PMReply

    I'm thinking it's Debbie Allen who choreographed the wedding dance sequence.

  • Shanea | April 4, 2013 8:03 AMReply

    "...You might remember him as Joe the Policeman in the "What's Going Down?" episode of "That's My Mama"..

  • DG Delves | April 5, 2013 3:55 PM

    The show "That's My Mama" was on the TVOne channel the other day. I was dying laughing just looking at the listing.

  • Steven Flores | April 3, 2013 8:19 PMReply

    "I've got a secret... I worship the devil"
    "See, that's the problem. I can't find a man that can satisfy me. Some go an hour, an hour and a half. That's it. A man's gotta work overtime for me honey"
    "I ain't interested in a man unless he drives a BMW"
    "Well baby, I'm almost single. My husband's in death row"
    "This is the first date we've been in, since the doctor seperated us"
    "I'm into the group thing"
    "I was Joan of Arc in my former life"
    "My name is Peaches and I'm the best. All the DJs want to feel my breasts"
    "Really I want to be a pop singer and a rock singer. Produce all my songs and write all my songs. Then I want to go into acting because people say how talented I am..."
    "I hope you don't mind but I've been watching you from afar and I want to tear you apart. And yo' friend too!!!"

    "Is it my imagination or does every woman in Queens have a severe psychological problem?"

  • CC | April 3, 2013 8:19 PMReply

    Rev. Brown: [at Black Awareness Rally] But you know, when I look at these contestants! For the Miss Black Awareness Pageant, I FEEL GOOD! I feel good, because I know there's a God somewhere! There's a God somewhere! Turn around ladies for me please! YOU KNOW there's a God who sits on high and looks down low! Man cannot make it like this here! Larry Flynt! Hugh Hefner! They can take the picture, but you can't make it! Only God above, the Hugh Hefner on high, can make it for ya!

  • CC | April 3, 2013 8:28 PM

    I loved the movie so I have another. The landlord played by Frankie Faison cracked me up several time but here's one I remember: First, the cab driver pulls up... "This shitty enough for ya? Prince Akeem: "Yes, this is perfect"

    Landlord: 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.

  • starry118 | April 3, 2013 7:44 PMReply

    I want 'yall two young people to tie that knot ... and I want you to hold on to God's unchangin' hand, 'cause He helped Joshua fight the battle of Jericho, He helped Daniel get out the lion's den, and He helped Giligaaan get off the island ... Lawd!

  • starry118 | April 3, 2013 7:46 PM

    Oh, just saw someone posted that already lol

  • Sharetta Lee | April 3, 2013 7:19 PMReply

    Cutest line:
    "If you're really a prince, I'll marry you!"
    ONE of the funniest:
    " To be loved, to be loved OOOOH what a feeling to be loved!"

  • Adam Scott Thompson | April 3, 2013 6:47 PMReply

    Best Moment: Daryl tossing that strawberry milkshake at Akeem and having it explode across his torso like a car seat -- with Semmi straight clownin'.

    Best Line(s): "I want y'all to tie that knot. I'ma pray for ya. And I want'cha to hold on to Gawd's unchangin' hand-uh! 'Cause he helped Joshua fight the battle'a Jericho. He helped Daniel get out the lion's den. He helped Gilligaaaan get off the island. C'Lawd!!!"

  • ALM | April 3, 2013 6:20 PMReply

    I don't have to revisit the movie. I quote lines from "Coming to America" all the time, and I recently bought the dvd after watching it on tv 353 times.

  • Wanett | April 3, 2013 9:26 PM

    DITTO!! I watch it at least once a month and can find a reason to quote it weekly!

  • Monique a Williams | April 3, 2013 7:01 PM

    I just heard all those lines in my head! #classic #noreminderneeded

  • ALM | April 3, 2013 6:22 PM

    "I want ya'll to TIE THAT KNOT"!

    *Places hand over lighter* "I was Joan of Arc in my former life."

    "That ain't nothin' but an ultraperm."

  • ShantaFabulous | April 3, 2013 5:41 PMReply

    I love the scene with Patrice dancing in front of Lisa and Dottie and the exchange that follows after the diamond and ruby earrings are delivered.

    Lisa: Not everyone thinks like you, Patrice.
    Patrice: Yes they do. They just don't admit it. *snaps*

  • kirk | April 3, 2013 5:03 PMReply

    When you think of garbage think of Akeem!

    I want you to take semi back to the Waldorf Astoria. I want you to bath him thoroughly!

  • Jen Jen | April 3, 2013 4:58 PMReply

    When Akeem and Semmi go to the nightclub to find women and the round-the-way girl beat-boxes her introduction to them. "My name is Peaches, and I'm the best..."

  • donnadara | April 3, 2013 4:48 PMReply

    John Amos explaining why McDowell's restaurant is not infringing on McDonald's copyright.

  • Monique a Williams | April 3, 2013 7:00 PM

    YES!!! Hilarious!

  • DEE - The original | April 3, 2013 4:11 PMReply

    Six is not enough.

  • Rusty | April 3, 2013 4:10 PMReply

    "The Greatest Love of All" is a George Benson classic NOT a Whitney Houston classic. She covered the song. Know your music history.

  • CC | April 4, 2013 1:48 PM

    Teach da babies Wawon. Yeah, like "Hello It's Me" was Todd Rundgren's song... BUT The Isley Brothers is the classic that's dear to most of our hearts. Not to mention "Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones, ask most people they'll say it's Otis Reddings song.

    But all's fair, many blue eyed singers (white artist) have made fortune by covering R&B hits. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Who – regularly covered Stax and Motown tracks on record or in concert. Phil Collins even covered The Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love". Heck, Michael Bolton got ugly rich by covering black songs. Who can forget his "When A Man Loves a Women", which was a Percy Sledge song.

    So yeah Mawon, tell the kids a little somethin'.

  • mawon | April 4, 2013 12:11 AM

    Yeah, like "I Will Always Love You" is a Dolly Parton classic, right? We all know Whitney owns those songs. Don't matter who sang it first.

  • ChgoSista | April 3, 2013 4:17 PM

    Teach da babies...

  • ChgoSista | April 3, 2013 3:50 PMReply

    BEST LINE THAT REMINDS ME OF SOMETHING ONE OF THE ELDERS IN MY HOOD WOULD'VE SAID: "Hey Stu! Your rent's due, MUTHAFUKKA!"

  • getthesenets | April 3, 2013 3:41 PMReply

    THE funniest line in the entire film?

    Akeem just lost the love of his life, about to go back home and go through with arranged marriage and what does his best friend say to him to console/comfort him?

    "Hey, at least we learned how to make french fries"

  • getthesesenets | April 3, 2013 3:38 PMReply

    great post BUT

    we watch this film at least 4 times a year

    the "Velvet" line is made when the guy feels the King's lion skin jacket/wrap..not Akeem, but the King.....the King...Martin Luther THE King

  • LoL | April 3, 2013 3:27 PMReply

    You left out the best part from the sexual chocolate scene.....the lead singer was Randy Watson and he was introduced as someone we all know from the time he played Joe the policeman on the "What's Going Down" episode of That's My Mama
    :-)

  • jasmine | April 3, 2013 4:59 PM

    Did Tyler direct that? Oh looooooooord!

  • Bee | April 3, 2013 4:20 PM

    Right! Epic. I love Coming to America.

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