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What sets COMING TO AMERICA ($30) above Eddie Murphy’s less successful comic outings, is the fact that he plays a likable character here, instead an obnoxious loudmouth. In COMING TO AMERICA, Murphy portrays Prince Akeem of the African nation of Zamunda. While Akeem has been pampered all of his life, the prince displays a wide-eyed innocence and longs to be treated just like an average man. Upon his twenty-first birthday, Prince Akeem is told of his prearranged marriage to a woman who was raised from birth to serve his every whim. While the woman he is destined to marry is exquisitely beautiful and extremely pliable, Prince Akeem longs for a wife with a mind of her own, who isn’t afraid to express her own opinions.

So, where will Akeem find the queen of his dreams? In America, of course, but more specifically in New York's borough of Queens. Pretending to be college students, Akeem and his life long friend Semmi (Arsenio Hall) arrive in a seedier Queens’ neighborhood, where they begin the search for the ideal woman. COMING TO AMERICA is a genuinely warm and gently funny film, with a number of raucous comic moments, in which Murphy and Hall play a number of minor characters, disguised in Rick Baker's suburb latex makeup. The cast of COMING TO AMERICA also features James Earl Jones, Madge Sinclair, Cuba Gooding Jr., Clint Smith, Frankie Faison, John Amos, Allison Dean, Shari Headley, Eriq La Salle, Louie Anderson and Samuel L. Jackson. Look for Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy in a funny cameo, in which they reprise their characters Mortimer and Randolph Duke from TRADING PLACES.

Paramount Home Video has made COMING TO AMERICA available on DVD in the Letterboxed format. While the Letterboxed presentation restores the film's proper 1.85:1 theatrical framing, the 16:9 anamorphic component for wide screen televisions is absent. Still, COMING TO AMERICA looks very good, with the DVD offering a sharp, detailed image. The transfer also has good contrast, with clean whites and deep blacks. Colors are nicely saturated and the are no traces of chroma noise. The film element itself has an errant marking here and there, but none are really distracting. Digital compression artifacts never became overt thanks to proficient DVD authoring.

COMING TO AMERICA has been issued with a very nice sounding Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. The track has very impressive bass reproduction and good channel separation across the front soundstage. Surrounds are limited by their Dolby Surround origins, supplying atmosphere to the track and fleshing out the musical passages. Dialogue reproduces cleanly and remains focused in the center channel. An English Dolby Surround soundtrack is also provided. The simple interactive menus contain the standard scene and language selection features. A theatrical trailer is provided as the DVD's only supplement.


Coming to America (1988)


DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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