Coming to America I Love the 80’s Edition DVD review

Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall in Coming to America
Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall in Coming to America

Paramount Home Entertainment and VH1 celebrate the best films of that unforgettable decade in the second wave of the I Love the 80’s Collection. Thirty of the most memorable motion pictures released by the studio between 1980 and 1989 were released on DVD yesterday, February 3rd—all accompanied by a special bonus CD containing songs by some of the era’s popular recording artists.

Anyone who’s gotten hooked on VH1’s hit TV show I Love the ‘80s, with its vivid flashbacks of the decade’s people, pop culture, fashions and fads, will find plenty to love in the I Love the ‘80s DVD series. The second installation in the I Love the ‘80s film series gives preppies, punks and everyone else who loved the ‘80s a chance to take home a little bit of fun pop culture history. This unique collaboration between Paramount Home Entertainment and VH1 debuted in August 2008 with 40 of the decade’s outstanding films. In addition to the bonus CD containing four songs by some of the era’s top recording artists, the promotion offers consumers two free music downloads with the DVD purchase (while supplies last) giving them even more opportunity to relive the 80’s.

Coming to America DVD cover
Coming to America DVD cover
Among the titles released yesterday was Eddie Murphy’s comedy classic Coming to America, which was directed by John Landis. Coming to America still stands as one of the great comedy classics of not just the 1980’s, but of all time. Landis’ superb and fearless direction gives authenticity to locations as diverse as the fictional African nation of Zamunda, and the sometimes hard streets of middle class Queens, New York.

Eddie Murphy was at his peak of fame and creativity as Prince Akeem, the pampered son of King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones), who rebels against his parents’ arranged marriage preparations and heads to America to find a bride he truly loves. His father relunctantly agrees to allow the prince 40 days to roam the U.S., sending the prince’s faithful retainer Semmi (Arsenio Hall) along to make sure nothing untoward happens. Of course viewers realize what a mistake that was, after Semmi builds a full-size jacuzzi tub in there tenement apartment.

To avoid gold-diggers, the Prince conceals his true identity and gets a “regular job” at a fast-food restaurant, cleaning up and sweeping floors.

Murphy and Hall are hilarious playing multiple roles, and are surrounded by equally an equally talented supporting cast, including James Earl Jones as the King of Zamunda, John Amos as the father of Murphy’s true love and owner of McDonald’s rip-off McDowell’s, and Madge Sinclair as the classy Queen Aoleon.

There are innumerable celebrity cameos peppered throughout the proceedings — including the Duke Brothers (played by Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy) from Trading Places and Cuba Gooding Jr. as a neighborhood teen getting a haircut from the elder Clarence, one of Murphy’s alter egos.

Deborah Nadoolman, who has worked on a number of John Landis films, was nominated for an Oscar for her spectacular costumes, along with makeup guru Rick Baker, who was nominated for his makeup effects on both Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall’s multiple characters.

Here’s a run-down of the characters Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall play in Coming to America:

Arsenio Hall

  • Semmi, Prince Akeem’s best friend and confidant.
  • Reverend Brown, who introduces the band Sexual Chocolate at the church rally.
  • Morris, one of the chatty elderly barbers in the barbershop scenes.
  • Hall also plays an ugly girl who is one of the Prince’s potential partners being interviewed by Murphy and…himself, at a local Queens nightclub.

Eddie Murphy

  • Prince Akeem of the African nation Zamunda.
  • Randy Watson, leader of the band Sexual Chocolate, who perform George Benson’s Greatest Love of All at the church’s Black Awareness Rally.
  • Clarence, the other elderly barber in the barbershop scenes.
  • Saul, the old Jewish man in the barbershop who calls Akeem “Kunta Kinte,” referring to the character from Roots.

My only wish, is that Paramount added some cool Bonus Features on the disc, other than the free CD and the theatrical trailer. However, the image presentation is stellar making the disc a must-have for fans of classic comedy and early Eddie Murphy work.

Coming to America is presented in widescreen format, enhanced for 16:9 TVs, and recorded in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround.

Director: John Landis, who also directed The Three Amigos, Spies Like Us, An American Werewolf in London and Animal House
Writers: story by Eddie Murphy, screenplay by David Sheffield and Barry W. Blaustein
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, John Amos, Louie Anderson, Shari Headley, Eriq La Salle

Original Release Year: 1988
DVD Release Date: February 3, 2009


The latest additions to the I Love the ‘80s Collection are: