Saturday, 21 January 2012

Coming To America, dir. John Landis, scr. David Sheffield, Barry W. Blaustein, based on the story by Eddie Murphy, st. Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones

Re-watching Landis' Coming To America from way back in 1988, it's striking how much has changed. Pretty much gone is the notion of 'stars' or at least 'star vehicles', and there's much less a notion of specific demographic marketing. Would such a film get made these days? A straightforward, almost childlike fairytale of a prince looking for his bride, but with a rather fruity zinger of a script from Sheffield and Blaustein, and of course, featuring the infamous topless bathers; an R-rated family film. It's still patently obvious what the world saw in Eddie Murphy back then. His easy charm and gift for comedy go some way to assuage the gnawing suspicion he's actually rather limited as an actor. Here, his partnership with Arsenio Hall is one of the great 80's double-acts of the age. Ethically and morally the message may be all over the place, but this is as good going a romp as you get, a ribald farce, often amusing, occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, and strangely moving in places. Murphy might be more recently associated with Donkey from the Shrek movies, or the string of late 90's unfunny family-friendly flops (Norbit, anyone?), but let's not forget he's the second highest grossing US actor ever and has a great legacy of films to prove it.