Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones
A career-changing role for comedic motormouth and action star Eddie Murphy (48 Hours, Beverly Hills Cop), Coming to America was the first romantic comedy for the undisputed box office king of the 1980s. Popular to this day for its memorable characters and meme-friendly dialogue and costumes, this cult comedy favourite from director John Landis (The Blues Brothers, Animal House) also includes great performances by Arsenio Hall and James Earl Jones, as well as early appearances by Samuel L. Jackson and Cuba Gooding Jr.
It’s the story of a 21-year-old prince, Akeem (Murphy) from the fictional African country of Zamunda. Rejecting a life of pampered luxury and an arranged marriage in his home country, he decides to travel to America with his best friend Semmi (Hall) to live the American dream and find true love instead – comically assuming that New York’s Queens is the only place fit for a king. But whilst the Big Apple isn’t quite what he or Semmi expected, a job at the local fast food place brings Akeem closer to Lisa (Shari Headley), the beautiful girl he has a crush on.
Besides their main roles in this comedic fairy tale, Murphy and Hall are also transformed by make-up wizard Rick Baker (Michael Jackson’s Thriller) to play four smaller parts; a multi-character trademark that would continue throughout Murphy’s popular career in movies such as The Nutty Professor, Bowfinger and Norbit.