Edward Regan Murphy was born in 1961 and by the age of fifteen, he knew what he wanted to be in life – an entertainer. From 1980 – 1984, Murphy became a regular member of the Saturday Night Live cast and in 1982 starred with Nick Nolte (The Prince of Tides) in his first feature film, 48 Hours. The following year, Murphy worked with SNL alumnus, Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters), on Trading Places, which became a box office success.
By the late 1980s, Murphy was a superstar, occasionally doing some stand-up while mainly starring in major motion pictures. One such movie, Coming to America, showcased Murphy's talent and comedic timing and, with a sequel coming next year, Paramount Pictures has released a 4K Steelbook of the original movie to create new fans and remind older fans what they loved about Coming to America and Murphy's performance.
Prince Akeem Joffer (Murphy) is the heir to the throne of Zemunda and, as is their custom, set to marry in an arranged marriage, a young woman he has never met. However, disenchanted with his life of luxury, Akeem runs away with his best friend/personal aide, Semmi (Arsenio Hall; Black Dynamite), to Queens, New York in search of a bride who loves Akeem for who, not what, he is. Once there they rent an apartment in a run-down tenement building while posing as a couple of foreign exchange students.
At a rally to raise money for the inner city, Akeem encounters Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley; Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween) whose father Cleo (John Amos; Good Times) owns a McDonald's type fast food restaurant called McDowell's. When Akeem and Semmi get jobs at McDowell's, the prince endears himself to Lisa and, when she breaks up with her boyfriend, She and Akeem begin dating, which Cleo is unhappy about until he finds out Akeem is really a prince. Lisa, on the other hand, is angry and hurt that Akeem lied to her and refuses to talk to him. Accepting his fate, Akeem then returns to Zemunda to proceed with the arranged marriage.
Murphy is perfect as Akeem and it is probably one of his best live-action roles to date (along with Axel Foley from Beverly Hills Cop). He and Hall have a nature easiness together, which makes it easy to believe they have been friends since boyhood despite Akeem's royal status. Both men play multiple roles throughout the film showcasing their diversity as actors. Amos is great as Lisa's father and McDowell's owner and James Earl Jones (Field of Dreams) and Madge Sinclair (Trapper John, M.D.) have a regal-like presence in cameo roles as Akeem's parents, the King and Queen of Zemunda.
This special edition steelbook is beautifully packaged and offers the film in 4K for the first time. The Dolby Vision video is amazing as details are readily apparent and sharp and colors pop offering beautiful picture quality. The audio, while still good, is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 instead of Dolby Atmos. This is a little surprising, but the audio quality is still strong despite the lack of an upgrade. The extras are all previously released and include 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 Talents of Nile Rodgers, A Vintage Sit-Down With Eddie & Arsenio, photo gallery and trailers.
Coming to America showcased Murphy at the height of his fame and success and it was the perfect vehicle for both him and Hall and, as stated earlier, is probably some of their best work to date. The story is cute, the cast is very good, and the jokes are genuinely funny. With the steelbook containing a mini-poster for the fictitious band, Sexual Chocolate, and some new artwork, it is packed with fans in mind and makes for a perfect holiday gift.