25) Prince Akeem has an awkward run in with some of his Zamundan subjects at a basketball game. When the incident almost blows his cover with Lisa McDowell (his love interest in the film), Akeem tells her they were just some guys he ran into in the men’s room.
24) ‘Sweat from a baboon’s b*lls!’ Simi, Prince Akeem’s best friend and assistant (played by Arsenio Hall) and Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) engage in some high energy stick fighting while debating the merits of a woman with a mind of her own vs. a pre-arranged, servile bride.
23) Prince Akeem is mortified when the woman pictured above emerges and appears to be his future wife. Turns out she is only there to introduce his ‘Queen to Be’, the gorgeous Vanessa Bell Calloway.
22) An adorable moment — Akeem is so giddy after a successful date with Lisa that he sings a horribly off-key version of ‘To Be Loved’ infuriating the entire Queens neighborhood he’s staying in.
21) Speaking of Akeem’s NYC stomping grounds, they were far from the best. He and Simi rent an apartment where a blind man AND his seeing eye dog appear to have been murdered.
20) ‘Trading Places’ fans got a great treat when those films villains — the Dukes — made a cameo appearance in ‘Coming to America’. The now broke investment titans are given an enormous gift of funds from Akeem, which leads them to declare ‘We’re back!’
19) In a deliciously against type turn, James Earl Jones plays the intimidating and brutally honest King Jaffe Joffer. When his son Akeem confides that he wants to sew his royal oats, Joffer says, ‘I assumed you slept with your bathers — I know I do.’
18) A cringe-worthy moment, but still an amusing one. Akeem tries to get to know his pre-selected wife (played by Vanessa Bell Calloway), but all she wants to do is his bidding. Her willingness to bark like a dog cements his decision to seek a bride elsewhere.
17) Lisa’s obnoxious boyfriend Darryl Jenks (played by Eriq La Salle) sported a drip-drip Jheri curl do. And so did his entire immediate family. The stains they left on the McDowell family couch pretty much killed that hairstyle for good.
16) Paula Abdul choreographed the incredible dance sequence which kicks off Akeem’s first, ultimately aborted, wedding ceremony. The costuming and dance moves were so influential they popped up later in Busta Rhymes’ classic ‘Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See’ music video.
15) What punishment does Simi receive from the King after he allows Akeem to ‘work’ and spends excessive money in NYC? He gets to be ‘bathed thoroughly’ by the sexy Zamundan rose bearers (which included a young Garcelle Beauvais).
14) Samuel L. Jackson makes one of the most memorably walk-on cameos of all time as a foul-mouthed thief who robs McDowell’s restaurant. He is easily disarmed by Simi and Akeem. And he gets called a ‘diseased rhinoceros pizzle’ to boot.
13) John Amos’ character (Lisa’s father) has a hilarious change of heart about Akeem once he learns that he’s royalty. Running around his home with excitement, he gleefully says ‘when I say the boy has got his own money I mean the boy has got his own MONEY.’ and holds up Zumundan currency.
12) One of Murphy’s most remarkable creations was Saul, the old Jewish man from the barbershop scenes. To this day, viewers have a hard time believing it’s really Murphy under that state-of-the-art make-up. His old-timey joke about ‘the soup’ during the end credits in unforgettable.
11) Not to be outdone, Arsenio Hall played his share of ridiculous comedic roles in the film. One of our favorites in the passionate Rev. Brown who praises ‘the Hugh Hefner on high’ for girls in bikinis and tells Lisa she looks so good he could ‘sop her up with a biscuit’
10) During an extended scene where Akeem and Simi attempt to meet girls at a NYC nightclub they encounter a rapping duo of twins. Their name is Peaches, and they’re the best, all the DJs want to feel their…you know the rest.
9) Paul Bates’ bizarre and high pitched rendition of the song ‘Queen to Be’ during the introduction of Akeem’s chosen bride is a deadpan masterpiece. It’s just one of many oddball moments from the movie that somehow work without making much sense.
8) The commercial parody that spawned a million t-shirts perfectly captures the excesses of the 80s and the absurdity of the Jheri curl craze. It’s not even a full 30 seconds of the movie but it remains one of its most enduring images.
7) Lest we forget ‘Coming to America’ was an R-rated comedy for the ages — we have the infamous ‘the royal penis is clean’ scene which has been sampled by rappers and drooled over by prepubescent boys because of its copious amounts of T&A.
6) When Akeem gets to New York he is so innocent and wide eyed that he goes on his balcony screaming a greeting to the entire city. He is met with ‘F**k you!.’ to which he cheerfully replies: ‘Yes, f**k you too!’
5) At the uproarious ‘Black Awareness Rally’ the guys from the barbershop are endlessly hilarious. Whether putting a drumstick in the collection plate (‘I thought it was the trash’) or debating the merits of singer Randy Watson (‘That boy is good!’ ‘Yeah, good and TERRIBLE.’)
4) The culmination of the nightclub scene is insanely funny appearance of Arsenio Hall in drag. In a deep baritone she declares that she wants to ‘tear’ Akeem ‘apart’ — and his friend (Arsenio Hall as Simi doing a spit take) too.
3) The highlight of the film for many comedy afficiandos are the barbershop scene, which feel authentic and absurd at the same time. The debate over who was the ‘pound-for-pound greatest boxer who ever lived’ is one of the most quotable exchanges in movie history. But the best line is probably reserved for Muhammad Ali: ‘His mama named him Clay, I’m a call him Clay.’
2) Clarence, the owner of the My-T Sharp barbershop (also played by Murphy) probably has the best lines in the movie. In a classic, probably improvised monologue, he describes an insane encounter with Martin Luther King Jr (or ‘Martin Luther the King’) in which the legendary civil rights leader punches Clarence in the chest because he thought he was ‘somebody else.’
1) Jackson Heights’ own! From the ‘What’s Going Down?’ episode of ‘That’s My Mama’! That’s right it’s the one and only Randy Watson and his band Sexual Chocolate (they’re so fine don’t you agree?). Everything about this scene is comic gold. His butchering of Whitney Houston’s classic ‘The Greatest Love of All’, his awkward somewhat homoerotic overtures to Rev. Brown and the timeless drop the mic move — make this our favorite ‘Coming to America’ moment of all time.
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Can you believe it’s been 25 years since Eddie Murphy’s classic hit comedy Coming to America debuted on the big screen?
While it was hardly Murphy’s most acclaimed, or even most famous role, it has endured as a fan favorite and could arguably be considered black America’s favorite comedy film of all time.
There are so many quotable scenes from this romantic story of an African prince who ventures to Queens, N.Y. to find a wife instead of settling for the one that’s been chosen for him.
Take a trip down memory lane with us as we look back on our favorite 25 moments from this uproarious movie.