Ever know that feeling when you’ve seen a movie about twenty times and vow never to see it again until it comes out in a new collector’s edition dvd? Coming to America is exactly like that. Coming to America is the tale of Prince Akeem (played by Eddie Murphy) who isn’t quite happy with his country’s arranged marriage practice. (but apparently pretty happy with the country’s bathing procedure) He decides that with his friend Semmi (played by Arsenio Hall) he should travel to New Yo…k to find his bride. So with the King’s blessing (played by James Earl Jones), the boys set off to New York to live the dream. (to live in an awful apartment, eat knockoff McDonalds food and go to a New York club full of really scary women) There he finds his true love Lisa (played by Shari Headley). Hence, the fairy tale story of a prince finding and marrying his princess commences.
Coming to America as mentioned is one of those movies that you need to see once every ten years. It has many greatlaughs and will keep you solidly entertained for the two hours you are watching it. However, most of those laughs come from the over the top characters that Eddie Murphy andArsenio Hall play when they aren’t playing the main characters of Akeem and Semmi. Like the characters in the barber shop or the crazy preacher. The main story is just a simple love story. Akeem is very low key and while Semmi does provide a few laughs, you sometimes forget he’s an essential part of the story. Some of the glitz in the movieis also lost due to the idea that Akeem & Semmi are by most calculations; not legally allowed to work in the US. But we can get away from that using the fairy tale aspect. Taking those minor issues away, the story is decent and will keep you interested.
The video is preserved in its original aspect of 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. To be honest, it looks okay. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. The movie shows it’s age and then some. I found a few splotches here and there, and the color isn’t what I hoped. There is some cleanup that was done, but it looks like it got the once over and called it a day.
Audio is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital English. A little surprising they remixed this one and gave it the extra it needed. It sounds very good, some of the effects do sound a little forced but a really solid effort. Dolby 2.0 in English and French is also provided. One thing I noticed and perhaps it is just me but in the extras the sound from any of the documentaries had this ringing type tone to them. This made it very hard to listen to. English, Spanish & Portuguese were all provided for subtitles.
Automatic Trailers: Dreamgirls, Norbit, Eddie Murphy.
Prince-ipal Photography: The Coming Together of America 24:38: This serves as the behind the scenes of Coming to America and goes a great into depth about the movie; how it got started and the work done to get the movie onto the hollywood screen. John Landis, the director, is the main focus here as he is extremely candid and entertaining regarding the flic.
Fit for Akeem: The Costumes of Coming to America 18:03: This featurette focuses on the all of the various dress that the characters employed during the production of the movie. Primarily the native african garb that is adorned in the beginning and tail end of the film. This one spends a lot of time with the director’s wife Debra who handled the costume design.
Character Building: The Many Faces of Rick Baker 12:54: Makeup Artist Rick Baker is the main focus for this featurette as he shows all the work that took place in order to transform Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall into all of the fun characters that we laugh at during the flic. Of particular interest, the old jewish white guy in the barbershop that Eddie portrays.
Composing America: The Musical Talents of Nile Rodgers 11:08: Remember the Reflex by Duran Duran? Well, the songwriter behind that and many other catchy hits did the soundtrack to Coming to America. That man was Nile Rodgers (who looks way too similar to Rick James). This takes a great detail to go over the music that I barely noticed through most of the flic. (except that annoying theme song)
A Vintage Sit-Down with Eddie & Arsenio 5:36: This footage had not been seen in almost 20 years and it is a very candid conversation with Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall. This is the Eddie reminiscent of his stand up and Beverly Hills Cop movies. They talk about the concept behind the film and some of the parties that happened during production. Those parties…you know the ones. This movie was originally called the Quest as a nice tidbit of trivia. Wasn’t that a Jean Claude flic?
To round out the extras we also get the original Theatrical Trailer and the a photo gallery of 54 pictures.
Classics do need to be revisited every so often. To make sure we still laugh and make sure that it holds the story that it once presented. Coming to America is still funny after all of these years just not as funny. Perhaps I saw it 5 times too many growing up (I blame TBS for this one) or perhaps because the movie plays out like a hardly believable “R” rated love story. A quick note, this movie has a lot of vulgarity and even a short nude scene in the beginning, so you might or might not keep the children away. I only mention this (not that it bothers me in the slightest) but it gets a lot of play on cable and you might be familiar with that sanitized version and think the dvd plays the same way. The video and audio are decent and the extras are awesome. Simply put, on the extras you couldn’t ask for anymore information and if they did a commentary (unless Eddie and Arsenio were a part of it), it would be all redundant information. This budget dvd ($10 most places) brings the goods and if you are a fan of Eddie Murphy, you should pick this up. One last note in the great cameo department; Samuel Jackson holding up the McDowell’s. It’s easy to see where his Pulp Fiction mannerisms come from.
Special Features List
- Prince-ipal Photography: The Coming Together of America
- Fit for Akeem: The Costumes of Coming to America
- Character Building: The Many Faces of Rick Baker
- Composing America: The Musical Talens of Nile Rodgers
- A Vintage Sit-Down w/ Eddie & Arsenio
- Theatrical Trailer
- Photo Gallery
- Automatic Trailers (3)