In this modern-day fairy tale, Eddie Murphy stars as a wealthy and pampered African prince who comes to America in search of a bride. His destination, of course, is Queens, New York. Accompanied by his closest companion (Arsenio Hall), the Prince quickly finds a job, new friends, new digs, new enemies, and more trouble than he ever imagined. COMING TO AMERICA is a hysterical fable with Murphy and Hall playing hilarious multiple roles with the help of astounding makeup effects.
This fantastical fairy tale stars Eddie Murphy as Prince Akeem, a pampered African prince who is yearning to be self-sufficient in his extremely opulent society, where his every whim is catered to. When Akeem turns 21 he defies the wishes of his kingdom and refuses to marry the beautiful bride who has been chosen for him. Instead, he sets out for America to find true love with his trusty sidekick, Semmi (Arsenio Hall). Determined to appear common, the pair arrive in Queens, New York, and quickly have to adapt to a world where they are no longer royalty and can't seem to find a modern woman who suits the prince's tastes--until he meets Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley), the lovely daughter of Cleo McDowell (John Amos), who owns McDowell's restaurant, a fast-food restaurant suspiciously like McDonald's. Akeem and Semmi get jobs at McDowell's and set about charming the unsuspecting Lisa. As the romance blossoms, Akeem has an increasingly difficult time hiding his true identity, especially when his royal parents (James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair) and their entourage arrive in New York, eager to return their only heir to Africa. John Landis's comedy is an intelligent, funny movie that shows off the myriad talent of Murphy and Hall.
Landis's trademark SYNW appears on a subway station poster for a fictional movie starring Jamie Lee Curtis (a reference to Landis's TRADING PLACES). Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall have numerous cameo roles in the film, disguised by extremely innovative makeup and hair. There is a cameo appearance by Mortimer and Randolph Duke (Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy) from John Landis's TRADING PLACES, as bums that Eddie Murphy's character gives a large sum of money to. In September 1995, Paramount Pictures settled a lawsuit for breach of contract brought in 1988 by newspaper columnist Art Buchwald and producer Alain Bernheim. The two contended that COMING TO AMERICA was based on a two-page treatment that Buchwald sold to Paramount in 1983. They claimed that their contract with the studio entitled them to a percentage of the film's net profit; Paramount argued that even if the film was based on the treatment, the film had not generated a net profit (based on the byzantine accounting formulae used by movie studios). By that time, the film had grossed in excess of $140 million. Buchwald and Bernheim's settlement came to more than $1 million.
4 stars out of 5 -- "Sharply scripted....It's still laughter-packed almost 20 years on, and Murphy and co-star Arsenio Hall are a hoot in multiple cameo roles." - 08/01/2007 Ultimate DVD, p.85