Coming to America [1988]

Half of the characters in this 1988 John Landis potboiler seem to be played either by Eddie Murphy or costar Arsenio Hall, swaddled in elaborate Rick Baker makeup appliances that render them unrecognizable but also weirdly immobile. As a pampered African prince who journeys incognito to Queens, New York, to find a bride who will love him just for himself, Murphy manages to look smug and naive at the same time. There are enjoyable sequences of Murphy's Prince Akeem applying his lordly manner to his new job in a fast-food emporium, and falling for the boss's spirited daughter (Shari Headley), who teaches him how to party down, American style. But the fish-out-water premise is never fully exploited. Star spotters will have a field day locating Cuba Gooding Jr., Donna Summer, Louie Anderson, Vondie Curtis Hall, E.R.'s Eriq La Salle, and Samuel L. Jackson in their minuscule supporting roles. --David Chute

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