I saw Coming to America ages and ages ago and remembered next to nothing about it, so I was looking forward to a revisit. Well, it’s unfortunate, but I really feel like this movie has not held up well at all. I found large swaths of the movie to be just painfully unfunny. For one thing, this is an early example (maybe the first) of Murphy playing multiple characters; co-star Arsenio Hall does the same thing. And all of these stuff is just painfully unfunny. The barbershop scenes are cringe-inducing, each seemingly endless and worse as they go along. The movie is certainly too long and trimming those scenes substantially (or perhaps cutting them entirely) would have gone a long way toward making the movie more energetic. But, oddly, I feel like Murphy’s performance as Prince Akeem is probably his best performance, just in terms of him playing a character totally unlike his usual persona. Akeem is naïve, good-natured and innocent, a far cry from the worldly-wise, high-energy cynics Murphy usually played and he demonstrates real warmth in the role. And John Amos is admittedly brilliant in his supporting role, particularly near the end of the film when he reaches a level of nuttiness nearly screwball. And it’s fun to see Samuel L. Jackson in one of his earliest roles; it’s kind of amazing that he already has the wild-eyed intensity that was going to make him a star even here in a tiny role. But, on the whole, I found this movie pretty dull and fairly often seriously annoying. There’s a good movie in the characters of Akeem & Semmi and their search for a royal bride in Queens (one of the film’s funniest jokes, by the way), but this isn’t it. Is this controversial or has this movie been reassessed and found wanting by others as well? Either way, pretty disappointing. Recommended against. 2 stars.
tl;dr – despite boasting one of Murphy’s best lead performances, this film has aged poorly with most of the humor now feeling forced and often annoyingly shrill. 2 stars.