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John Landis
Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones
Writing Credits:
David Sheffield, Barry W. Blaustein

An extremely pampered African Prince travels to Queens, New York, and goes undercover to find a wife whom he can respect for her intelligence and will.

Box Office:
$28 million.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Dolby Vision
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Audio Description
French Dolby 2.0
German Dolby 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 116 min.
Price: $25.99
Release Date: 12/1/2020

• “Prince-Ipal Photography” Featurette
• “Fit for Akeem” Featurette
• “Character Building”” Featurette
• “Composing America” Featurette
• “A Vintage Sit-Down With Eddie and Arsenio”
• Photo Gallery
• Trailer


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Coming To America [4K UHD] (1988)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 26, 2020)

After Eddie Murphy became an enormous movie star, his ego started to get the best of him. That meant a series of flicks in which he presented himself more and more as some sort of slick hero, a trend that took us away from the rough-hewn charm that made him famous. In 1988’s Coming to America, Murphy goes even farther: he casts himself as virile African royalty.

In Coming, Murphy plays young Prince Akeem of Zamunda. On Prince Akeem’s 21st birthday, he meets his preordained bride-to-be, but Akeem displays no excitement.

Indeed, Akeem tires of his pampered position and wishes for something different. He wants an independent woman and a life with more freedom.

King Jaffe (James Earl Jones) just thinks Akeem wants to sow some pre-martial oats, so he grants a delay of 40 days before the royal wedding occurs. However, Akeem plans to find a bride on his own, so he sets out for New York with his pal Semmi (Arsenio Hall).

After many misfires, he meets educated, sophisticated Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley) at a political rally. Akeem falls for her, and the rest of the movie follows his attempts to woo her.

Coming reunited Murphy with director John Landis, the man behind 1983’s Trading Places, the actor’s second big hit. Coming snared Murphy and Landis another box office success, but it fell short of the amusement found in Places.

I wouldn’t call Places a classic, as it ran too long and went down too many dead ends. Nonetheless, it consistently entertained and demonstrated an easy charm largely absent from Coming.

In no way would I describe Coming as a comedic dud, and compared to the Murphy efforts that followed for much of the next decade, it looks pretty good. However, that falls into “faint praise” territory, as it doesn’t take much to seem funny compared to crap like Harlem Nights and Beverly Hills Cop III. Coming betters those clunkers, but it falls short of Murphy’s earlier successes.

Some of the problems come from Murphy’s ego, as the flick presents an indulgent fantasy with Murphy as pampered royalty, though maybe I shouldn’t knock Murphy for his decision to play a prince. After all, it’s not like he’s the first actor to take on such a role.

However, the problem stems from Murphy’s attitude, as he really seems to believe the hype. Sure, Akeem comes across as a man of the people who tries to fit in with commoners, but Murphy’s arrogance remains in place.

Much of Coming suffers from excessive length and additional indulgence. At 116 minutes, it seems too long for a light comedy such as this, and too many scenes plod along past the point of no return.

For instance, the African dance sequence at the betrothal ceremony runs forever without much purpose, and other bits like the “McDowell’s vs. McDonald’s” scene drag. We understand these gags without so much explanation, so the excessive discussion robs the pieces of their effectiveness.

Other parts of the flick come across as little more than barely connected skits and chances for Murphy and Hall to play various characters. They don lots of makeup to portray various Americans, and these bits wear thin before too long.

Some of them work – the barbershop guys get the movie’s best laughs – but we find too many of them. The gimmick gets old, and the fact that so few of the scenes make sense within the story doesn’t help.

Again, I wouldn’t call Coming to America a bad flick. It presents a little charm along with a smattering of funny bits such as one memorable cameo I won’t mention so I won’t ruin the surprise.

However, its mix of arrogance and self-indulgence makes it less successful than it should be. This is mediocre Murphy.

Footnote: stick through the end credits for a little tag from the barbershop guys. Oh, and also look for some future stars on display, as Cuba Gooding Jr. and Samuel L. Jackson pop up in minor roles.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Coming to America appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This Dolby Vision presentation worked quite well.

Sharpness seemed more than satisfactory. Occasional glimmers of minor softness impacted some broader elements, but the majority of the flick brought nice accuracy.

This transfer came without jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement appeared absent. With a fine layer of grain, I didn’t fret about noise reduction, and source flaws also caused no problems.

With a natural palette, the film offered a good array of tones, and they came across as vivid and full. This became especially true during the African scenes, as those boasted some standout colors, but even the Queens shots brought appealing tones. The 4K’s HDR contributed nice oomph to the hues as well.

Blacks were dark and deep, while shadows appeared smooth and well-rendered, and the HDR added impact to whites and contrast. This unquestionably turned into the best-looking version of this film to date.

I also felt pretty pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Coming to America. For the most part, the soundfield offered a subdued affair. Music showed nice stereo imaging, and the movie featured a decent sense of ambience.

Not too many scenes broadened beyond that general feeling of environment, though a few sequences opened up matters slightly. For instance, the fireworks at the bridal ceremony used the rear speakers well. Otherwise, this was a low-key mix, albeit one that opened up in a more than adequate manner.

Audio quality worked fine. Speech sounded natural and concise, without roughness or other issues.

Music showed good clarity and range, so bass response seemed warm for the score and songs. Effects seemed clear and accurate as well. Though nothing here surpassed the standard “comedy mix”, the audio suited the film.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the 30th Anniversary Blu-ray from 2018? The lossless audio brought greater range, and it also lost the edgy speech that occasionally marred the lossy old mix.

As for visuals, the Dolby Vision 4K seemed more precise and also brought more dynamic colors. The Blu-ray looked mediocre, so the 4K turned into a considerable upgrade.

Note that the 2018 Blu-ray offered a literal duplicate of the original BD from 2007. That made the 4K UHD the movie’s first remaster in years, but unfortunately, Paramount doesn’t offer a new BD for those without 4K capabilities.

Extras focus on featurettes, and Prince-Ipal Photography: The Coming Together of America runs 24 minutes, 38 seconds and provides notes from director John Landis, screenwriters David Sheffield and Barry Blaustein, costume designer Deborah Nadoolman, and producer/editor George Folsey, Jr.

“Coming” covers the movie’s origins and development, story, cast and characters, performances and improvisation, the “McDowell’s” elements, the movie’s legacy, and a few other details.

On the negative side, the absence of any actors – especially Eddie Murphy – comes as a disappointment. Otherwise, this turns into a pretty good program. It gives us a rudimentary but interesting overview of some production elements and even hints at conflict between Murphy and Landis.

No, it’s not a warts and all piece, but given the fluffiness usually found in this sort of retrospective, even a smidgen of that sort of material livens up the show. “Coming” works reasonably well.

Next comes Fit for Akeem: The Costumes of Coming to America. The 18-minute, four-second show features Nadoolman, Landis, and Folsey. We get lots of information here about the clothes design for the film.

Nadoolman comes to the forefront and gives us great insights into her choices and influences. This becomes a much more detailed program than usual and presents quite a few useful tidbits.

For the 12-minute, 54-second Character Building: The Many Faces of Rick Baker, we hear from Landis, Folsey, and makeup artist Rick Baker. We learn about all of Baker’s makeups for the film and the ways his work influenced characters.

Again, the absence of the actors makes the show incomplete, but Landis and Baker provide more than enough good notes to create an informative piece.

Composing America: The Musical Talents of Nile Rodgers lasts 11 minutes, seven seconds. It features Landis, Sheffield, composer Nile Rodgers, Rolling Stone magazine’s David Wild, and Billboard magazine’s Gail Mitchell.

“Composing” looks at Rodgers’ influences and goals for his score as well as time pressures placed on the composer.

This is another productive program, as it gives us a lot of solid details related to the music. I could live without the praise from the journalists, though, as it’s unnecessary and gets some of the facts wrong.

For instance, Wild claims Rodgers produced Madonna’s first album, whereas he worked with her for Like A Virgin, album number two. (And Wild’s assertion that this might be her best work is patently nuts, though that’s a matter of opinion, I suppose.)

An archival piece arrives via A Vintage Sit-Down With Eddie and Arsenio. This five-minute, 24-second clip came from sessions to publicize the flick.

This doesn’t include much concrete information, but it makes up for that with fun. It’s amusing to see the two comedians interact and riff off each other, though Hall gets in the best bits.

In addition to the flick’s trailer, we find a Photo Gallery. It includes 54 shots, most of which show movie images; we get a few snaps from behind the scenes but not many. These are eminently forgettable.

Eddie Murphy’s last genuine hit for almost a decade, Coming to America hasn’t aged particularly well. Too long and too inconsistent, the movie has some laughs but not enough to make it a winner. The 4K UHD provides solid picture and sound plus a generally interesting set of supplements. This becomes a nice release for a sporadically entertaining film.

To rate this film visit the original review of COMING TO AMERICA

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