Summary of the Movie "Coming to America"

by Leah Waldron-Gross Google

1988's "Coming to America," which was directed by John Landis, tells the story of Akeem (Eddie Murphy), a wealthy African prince who travels to Queens, New York to find his true love. Joined by his servant, Semmi (Arsenio Hall), Akeem attempts to hold down a job at McDowell's, a McDonald's competitor, while chasing his boss's daughter, Lisa (Shari Headley).

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Out of Africa

"Coming to America" begins with a day in the life of Prince Akeem, a pampered adult man who is bathed by beautiful women and must always walk on rose petals. That night, Akeem's parents, the King and Queen (James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair), introduce Akeem to his arranged bride-to-be (Vanessa Bell), who is all too eager to perform even the most ridiculous tasks for her fiancee. In a moment of frustration, Akeem convinces his servant, Semmi, to come with him to America to search for a more acceptable queen.

Queens, New York

Arriving in Queens, Akeem is quickly taken aback by the poverty and lack of "queens" to be found, but he is nevertheless excited to be treated like a real person. To Semmi's dismay, they rent a dirty apartment after their luggage is stolen within minutes of leaving their cab. To earn rent and living money, Akeem happily begins janitorial work at the fast-food burger chain McDowell's, where he impresses his boss, Cleo McDowell (John Amos).

Double the Fun

In true Eddie Murphy form, some of the most memorable (and hilarious) scenes in "Coming to America" occur as Akeem and Semmi hunt for an acceptable bride while playing simultaneous roles. In a montage of bar women the two meet, Arsenio plays an eligible woman that appears to be a drag queen. In the local barbershop, Hall plays two of the five barbers while Murphy plays another two, including an older Jewish man. Akeem later ends up in a boisterous church, where he meets Cleo McDowell's beautiful daughter, Lisa.

The King Arrives

Akeem begins to court Lisa without telling her of his royalty. Lisa seems to like Akeem despite his lack of money, which angers her current boyfriend Darryl, played by a young Eriq La Salle. Meanwhile, Semmi is tired of living poorly and writes King Jaffe for money, which prompts the King and Queen to come to America to bring their son home. Once Akeem knows that Lisa loves him, he tells her his secret, just as the royal family and the McDowells meet. She runs from Akeem, unable to trust him or her father, who originally preferred Lisa's boyfriend Darryl but now wants her to marry Akeem because he is rich. In the final scene, back in Zamunda, a surprise ending is revealed when the bride's veil is lifted.