Coming to America (1988)

Discussion in 'THE AIGBURTH ARMS' started by hubbard, May 2, 2019.

  1. hubbard

    hubbard Deck Sergeant

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    Wait up, there has been a movie made by a major Hollywood studio which focuses on a story set in Africa. Which then shifts to focus entirely on African Americans. With an almost entirely black cast, focusing on various parts of African/African American culture. And it was directed by a white man!! Bu..bu..but! 'Black Panther'! yadda yadda yadda...

    Yep believe it or not (and many won't) but this was done many many years before all the 'woke' left-wing media would have you believe; and what's more, it was actually directed by a white male! Shock! Horror! Social media outrage! Luckily that white director was the genius that is John Landis. Yeah it helps when you hire people based on merit rather than race and gender, but I digress.

    The Plot: Very much in the vein of a classic fairytale if you will. The Prince of a fictional wealthy nation in Africa (Zamunda) grows tired of his privileged lifestyle. His every want and desire is pandered to, he is mollycoddled and spoilt. He may be a good man who is young and good looking but finding a true woman is hard because of the fact he is a Prince, a King in waiting. Unfortunately this is made even harder by the fact that he is down for an arranged marriage. So in desperation he flees (sort of) to America in order to find true love. To find a Princess (or future Queen) who will love him for who he is and not his wealth (tall order).

    'I want you to bathe him thoroughly'

    Right so first off this movie has an amazing cast all round, I think we can all agree. But undoubtedly this was and always will be an Eddie Murphy tour de force. There are many things to like and hark back to in this movie but surely Murphy's array of distinct characters must be at the top. From his genuinely solid performance as an African Prince Akeem. To his gold-toothed loud-mouthed barber Clarence. To his greasy perm haired crappy soul singer Randy Watson (easily the best). Each performance is incredibly unique showcasing Murphy's versatility. Indeed when I was young I never even knew Murphy was behind these characters, straight up. But that can also be attributed to Rick Baker's fabulous makeup throughout. I think the stand-out example of this has to be Murphy's old Jewish barbershop customer Saul. The makeup (essentially whiteface) is so flippin' good for years, as a youngster, I never knew it was Murphy.

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    The rest of the cast was like a who's who of African American actors at the time. The legendary James Earl Jones played King Jaffe Joffer, a big man with a strong sense of national pride and tradition. Wearing a pair of thick rims on his face, typical 80's suits adorned with some unique jewelry and an amazing, if somewhat un-PC, lionskin complete with head around his torso. Its like he was born to be an actual African King. Arsenio Hall played Semmi, Akeem's close friend, along with his own selection of classic weirdos. He was another of the old ranting men in the barbershop, an ugly female in a nightclub which was fudging hilarious, and his best performance as Reverend Brown. A buck-toothed balding raspy-voiced man of God...who was kinda creepy.

    Alongside there was also John Amos as Cleo the concerned father of Akeem's Princess-to-be and owner of McDonald's rip-off McDowell's. Shari Headly played Lisa, the Princess-to-be of Akeem's desire. Madge Sinclair was the more down to earth Queen of King Joffer (they had an arranged marriage). And Eriq La Salle was fantastic as Lisa's also greasy perm haired creep of a boyfriend. Smaller roles and cameos included the likes of Calvin Lockhart, Samuel L. Jackson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Vondie Curtis-Hall, and Don Ameche with Ralph Bellamy playing the same characters from John Landis' earlier movie 'Trading Places'. So this officially means 'Trading Places' and 'Coming to America' are in the same cinematic universe. Akeem gives the duo a large wad of bills (as they are homeless after the events of the 1983 movie). We are left to assume they use it to get their fortune back, but did they succeed?

    Another strong element in this movie is the locations. The American set parts of the movie are filmed around various New York boroughs and just like 'Trading Places' New York sells the movie brilliantly. There is no better city to film in than Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs for atmosphere and culture, especially when it's cold and snowy. Again just like Landis' 83 rags to riches movie each location sets the scene perfectly and gives you the viewer a really pitch perfect vibe. The cold weather also helps sells the reality of the situations making you glad you aren't right there at that point in time. There's just something so cool and photogenic about old 80's New York in the cold and wet, so gritty vibrant and real.

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    I should also point out that the African sequences, although clearly done on sets, are highly effective too. The costumes all look very well designed, authentic, rich and vibrant in colour. The royal interiors all look lovely and again very colourful, and I'm sure based somewhat on reality. And the large ceremonial dance sequence is also impressive in scope and I'm sure also based on reality, with some artistic license.

    But how can I not mention the biting comedy here?? Back in the day this movie was considered by my folks to be off limits, oh yes. Even the cut TV versions were frowned upon. Obviously they knew it was a comedy but the near-constant profanity and odd bits of nudity were a big no no back then. Far too raunchy (don't laugh, different times). But yes this movie is like a flippin' gold mine of errr...comedy gold. Cruel, unapologetic, definitely not for the faint-hearted liberals, and epic. There are moments of cutesy humour such as Cleo's obvious grovelling towards Akeem when he discovers he's mega-rich. He then goes on to really kiss King Joffers ass which is done to a tee, only to then stand up for his daughter when the King rebuffs them both which was heartwarming.

    Then there are the moments when Murphy and Hall let loose and bring the house down. Hall as a slutty big-haired nightclubber who wants a threesome has to be a small highlight. The other crazy women are also very funny too (actual actresses). Murphy as Randy Watson and his band Sexual Chocolate is another top spot. He preens himself as he struts across the stage whaling out his tone-deaf lyrics. Meanwhile Hall as Reverend Brown bounces around the stage praising Jesus and his adoring followers. When Akeem and Semmi decide to blend in with Americans and get kitted out in local attire. Queen Aoleon telling Joffer to put a sock in it as he yells at Akeem for going after Lisa against his wishes. Nice little moment that, you're thinking...yeah you tell him! And of course the constant pressure Akeem feels to look poor so Lisa doesn't catch on to the fact he's a Prince of an African nation.

    'bit of an insect problem but you boys from Africa are probably used to that'

    In the end one of the most interesting aspects of this movie is the simple fact that it's actually a very good story. Yes its a somewhat crude and crass comedy at times. Yes there's plenty of silliness and hijinks that now comes across as kinda daft. And yes there are many many elements that would be deemed offensive by today's overly sensitive society. But in amongst all that is a truly heartwarming fairytale of searching for love in a big city. There is a solid sense of family in the movie, on both sides on the coin, and every character is generally likable including the 'bad guys'. A touching tale of two different cultures (effectively visualised) coming together and living happily ever after. Arguably Murphy's best comedy/film.

    Question is, what happened to McDowell's? I wonder if Maurice became manager?

    10/10

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  2. Nikki the Great

    Nikki the Great Flight Co-Ordinator

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    Get this nonsense off my forum :sulk:
     
  3. Asclepius

    Asclepius Deck Sergeant

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    Nice pictures. What was the rest about?
     
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  4. Bluey

    Bluey Science Officer

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    Never seen this, but I can't stand Eddie Murphy. He seems to personify the annoying loudmouthed American stereotype.
     
  5. Ant E

    Ant E Science Officer

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    What is this drivel?
     
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  6. Cloud

    Cloud Flight Co-Ordinator

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    Thank you for yet another giant review no one will read.
     
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  7. Sammer4Rimmer

    Sammer4Rimmer Supply Officer

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    You expect me to read this smege?
     
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  8. Ant E

    Ant E Science Officer

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    :lol::lol::lol::lol:

    I can’t breathe!!!!!!:lol:
     
  9. neilold

    neilold Science Officer

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    I like the review and liked the film, I like sexual chocolate because they're just so terrible. One of my favourites of Murphy, his best being trading places
     
  10. Nikki the Great

    Nikki the Great Flight Co-Ordinator

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    Get out
     
  11. Underdunn

    Underdunn Deck Sergeant

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    Hey, we watched that one last week! You weren't a ginger bloke with glasses then though.
     
  12. hubbard

    hubbard Deck Sergeant

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    Sexual Chocolate :lol:
     
  13. Spaceman

    Spaceman Supply Officer

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    I like space, man
  14. neilold

    neilold Science Officer

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    I concur
     
  15. Bluey

    Bluey Science Officer

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    Just had a proper read through. It was a nice review and one that almost made me want to give the movie a try - especially as I used to be a big fan of Trading Places, which I must have seen around ten times. Don't know if I will ever get round to watching this though.
     
  16. neilold

    neilold Science Officer

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    It's not a bad movie, Murphy doesn't do his usual big mouth act, that defined him in the eighties, so much
     
  17. hubbard

    hubbard Deck Sergeant

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    Both movies are in the same universe.
     
  18. Bluey

    Bluey Science Officer

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    Yes, I saw in your review. I hadn't previously known that.
     
  19. neilold

    neilold Science Officer

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    You mean with the cameo appearances, yes I forgot about that
     
  20. Ant E

    Ant E Science Officer

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    Neil Ian Beale
     

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