Coming to America (4K Blu-ray Review)

Coming to America goes on a short list of films I’ve seen over 100 times.  This is a film that captures irreverent humor and imminent sweetness in equal doses.  This is also the first time the world was given the opportunity to see Eddie Murphy at the height of his powers taking on a romantic lead, but also being tasked with the challenge of taking on different roles under still brilliant makeup work.  When the announcement was made that Paramount was bringing some classic Eddie films to 4K and Paramount Presents Blu-ray, this title was the one I was most anxious to check out.  Read my thoughts and appreciations in-depth below and be sure to click the paid links at the end to get your copy of Coming to America!


Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) is at the dawn of his 21st birthday. In Zamunda, he is next in line to take the throne and is about to meet his arranged bride-to-be.  His parents, King Joffe Joffer and Queen Aeoleon (James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair) have chosen him a fine bride, but Akeem wants something more.  He is a romantic and seeks to find true love and his own independence.  In truth, he needs it as he has everything from wiping his butt to picking his clothes done for him.

After an incredible ball to announce the royal engagement, Akeem tells the king he wants to find his own bride. The king, not willing to budge on tradition, tells Akeem to go on a trip for 40 days to “sow his royal oats…” only thinking Akeem seeks sexual attention. With his best friend and personal valet Semmi (Arsenio Hall) in tow, the pair go to New York, Queens in particular, to find a suitable true love for Akeem.

Upon arrival, Akeem is taken with the dirty city.  He is charmed by the “meager accommodations” and wants to have a dose of real life.  The boys make friends with a “barbershop quartet” at My-T-Sharp (Arsenio and Eddie all done up!) and make moves at a night club (in a hilarious sequence) at first.  When one of the barbers suggests that Akeem go to the Black Awareness Rally, he finds true love in Lisa (Sherry Headley).  Of course, there are obstacles along the way. She has no idea he’s a prince, and when Akeem and Semmi take jobs at McDowell’s, Lisa’s family’s knock-off McDonalds burger joint, her father (John Amos) and her boyfriend Darryl (Eriq LaSalle) are all determined to keep them apart.  Will Akeem find his true bride? What will come to pass…

I LOVE Coming To America. Watching this film has been a source of comfort for a majority of my life.  The characters are wonderful. The humor is timeless and for the most part inoffensive.  There is a light sweetness that elevates the material and Eddie Murphy gives one of his best performances here.  It’s quite clear that all involved have a love for the material and there is a major ease to the performances that makes you feel just as easy and comfortable watching them.  John Landis also delivers with a sure handed subtle direction.  This is clearly Eddie’s show overall though.  Besides the performances and still consistent and timeless humor, there is a gorgeous look about the film. The palace in Zamunda is a gorgeous piece of set design and the moment we hit New York we are given a wintry, dirty feast for the eyes as well.  The film is truly a classic in every sense of the word!


  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Layers: BD-66
  • Clarity/Detail: Clarity is evident right at the start of the film. The Paramount mountain looks nice and sharp. The clarity continues as you make your way to the palace in Zamunda. Gorgeous vibrant colors, textures, hair follicle, and skin imperfections are all evident throughout. Interiors and exteriors all look astoundingly different from any other format this film has been released on.  Matte paintings do show themselves here, but being that this is the best the film has looked, you won’t be complaining about what you’re seeing.  Stunning all around. A fine layer of grain adds to the details and makes the film look vintage yet engrossing.
  • Depth: That pop you look for on 4K discs comes to call most noticeably at the palace. The royal engagement is filled with detail that puts you right into the party. At the barber shop in Queens, things are so alive on the walls that you’ll see things you’ve never seen before (I swore I saw a photo of John Landis on the wall!).
  • Black Levels: Blacks look pitch perfect throughout.
  • Color Reproduction: Vibrant, regal and gorgeous. The color palette begins with many amazing variations. Patterns literally come to life on the screen. As we move to New York, things get a little more general, but all the same still look lifelike and sumptuous.
  • Flesh Tones: Tones are overall natural and pleasing to the eye. There are no odd looking faces or bodies in this presentation.
  • Noise/Artifacts: Clean


  • Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, German 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 2.0 Dolby Digital
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, German
  • Dynamics: Finally!! A lossless soundtrack for a classic. While not a Dolby Atmos stunner, this track finally gives the right fidelity and clarity for the film. Music and dialogue sounds fantastic and there isn’t a dated sound to the track as a whole.  While the music dates the film, you’ve not heard it sound this amazing before.
  • Height: N/A
  • Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer goes to work with music. All source cues and soundtrack cuts sound full and punchy. The drums in the engagement sequence are a huge highlight for the subwoofer, adding a nuanced bass energy to the sequence I’ve never heard before.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Surrounds are active quite a bit. At the engagement, the Black Awareness Rally or even in McDowells, ambient noises come into play and add a fullness to the new mix.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue sounds lovely throughout and never muddy or dropped out.


Coming to America is available in a standard slipcover version and a cool new Steelbook option as well. The steelbook has a hilarious poster for Randy Watson’s 1988 tour, and a digital code comes with each version.  The features on the 4K disc are vintage, in 480p and are as follows:

  • Prince-ipal Photography: The Coming together of America (24:39) – a little more than an EPK fluff piece about the making of the film.
  • Fit for Akeem: The costumes of Coming to America (18:05) – Another nice piece on the many looks of the film
  • Character Building: The Many faces of Coming to America (12:55) – A feature on Rick Baker, who did all the magical makeup effects in the film.
  • Composing America: The Musical Talents of Nile Rodgers (11:09) – All about the work and legacy of Rodgers, from this film and beyond.
  • A Vintage Sit Down with Eddie & Arsenio (5:38) – A clip from 1989 with the stars reminiscing about the film.
  • Theatrical Trailer


To have Coming to America finally hit this amazing format in such a successful way is such a joy.  The best part of this year for me has been being able to revisit so many classics from my childhood and beyond and seeing them so lovingly done for 4K is just a lovely thought of things to come.  This release is as good as it can get and if you love the film or are just now discovering it, this release is the very best way to experience it. “That Disc Good!”

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