Coming to America: The Right Kind of Parody

After watching “Trading Places” a few weeks ago, I was ready to see another Eddie Murphy movie. It’s interesting to view his films from the past because, when I was younger, he was known for “cleaner” movies. I mean I remember Eddie from “Doctor Dolittle” and “Shrek” which are vastly different even from the film I reviewed earlier. But “Coming to America” is another reminder of how much I’ve missed out on.

The movie starts off, as you would expect, with a Prince waking up in an over-the-top palace with many unnecessary servants. However while you might expect him to enjoy these things, Prince Akeem does not. Instead he wishes to spread his wings out especially when he finds his “wife” has no personality. Along with his pal Semmi, Akeem travels to America to meet his Queen, which leads him the only place that would make sense, Queens.

Now while you may anticipate something exceedingly over the top like “Airplane,” “Coming to America” takes a slightly more obscene yet entertaining angle on their journey. People steal their luggage, curse at the prince constantly and aren’t afraid to be strange. I mean there are some exaggerated characters, such as the antagonist of the film, but the more mature parody leads to a funnier film.

After slightly adjusting to the US, Prince Akeem meets the love of his life: Lisa. In order to woo her, he works for her father at their fast food restaurant McDowell’s (a great parody in itself). While starting slowly, our protagonist begins to make progress with Lisa who sees things, strangely, like he does. While her younger sister seems a little more, uh, “interested” in Akeem, the Prince finds his way into Lisa’s heart in no time.

As you would expect, the final act of the film leads to the return of his father as well as the reveal of his true identity. And while the ending does feel rushed, and also a tad predictable, there is a nice conclusion along with growth of some of the lesser characters.

Speaking of secondary characters, I did like some of the aside jokes throughout the movie. First there was a great nod to “Trading Places” and their villains followed by the man in basically every movie, Samuel L. Jackson. And let’s not forget about the unorthodox barbershop quartets and their hilarious arguments. Just the perfect additions to an already entertaining film.

While by no means a perfect movie, “Coming to America” hits the right notes with a more obscene parody. While this genre has become commonplace especially in this century, Prince Akeem’s journey is one that takes a darker path which of course leads to brighter results. The more you watch Eddie Murphy, the more you realize why he was so fondly remembered. How wrong I was about him when I was a kid.



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