As a royal prince of the mythical African country of Amunda, Eddie Murphy and his devoted friend, played by newcomer Arsenio Hall set out for America, here the prince hopes to find an old-fashioned girl to be his bride.
Special makeup by two-time Oscar winner Rick Baker, plus some optical / photographic work allowed Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall to portray six characters within the same scene.
The predatory woman in the bar was played by Arsenio Hall.
The name of the fictional African country the main characters are from is called "Zamunda". This name was taken from a Richard Pryor routine where he referred to a fictional African tribe of the same name.
This film marks the first time Eddie Murphy played multiple characters the same film. Something which has gone on to be a trademark of his.
The working title of this film was "The Quest".
According to John Landis, it was his idea to have Eddie Murphy wear makeup to play a Jewish man as a sort of payback for Jewish comedians wearing blackface in the early 1900's.
Director Cameo: Tobe Hooper to the right of Arsenio Hall (Reverend Brown) and Shari Headley, listening to Brown's non-stop preaching during the McDowell party.
The film was the subject of the Buchwald v. Paramount civil suit, filed by Art Buchwald in 1990 against the film's producers on the grounds that the film's idea was stolen from a 1982 script that Paramount had optioned from Buchwald. Buchwald won the breach of contract action and the court ordered monetary damages. The parties later settled the case before an appeal.
When Akeem goes to get his ponytail cut, the stand-in for the old Jewish man is visible in the mirror.
When Akeem wakes up and his servant claps his hands to open the bathroom door, a crew member can be seen inside the bathroom, in the crack between the door and the frame.
In virtually every shot with Arsenio Hall's barber shop character, his wide glasses reflect the large light reflection screens used in the shot.
When the robber enters McDowells, he walks through the door, pulls the shotgun out from underneath his overcoat, and shoots into the ceiling. Unfortunately, the debris from the ceiling begins to fall slightly ahead of the shot being fired.
Though Coming to America is a romantic comedy the director steers the film more often toward quick, in-and-out comic situations and gags that are only mildly funny. In part this is due to the fact that Mr. Murphy plays the prince with cheerful, low-keyed innocence that is completely legitimate, but is not supported by the short attention span of the screenplay. The romance is tepid. Reviewed by: Vincent Canby of The New York Times.
Eddie Murphy's latest ‘Coming' is likely to leave the wreath-bearers, the frantic faithful, the crowd herders, and the legions of line-waiters in numbed disbelieving disappointment. Distressingly, the film flops into the blandest of sitcom formats except for the effervescent Murphy. This very common comedy doesn’t have much more to strut than your average network rerun. Box office will undoubtedly be gargantuan at first, but Paramount’s goldmine has been short-shafted by Coming to America’s dull-witted screenplay. Reviewed by: The Hollywood Reporter.
Although the fairy-tale script is as old as the motion picture industry itself, the resourceful cast of Coming to America brings freshness to the annoyingly cliched material. Unfortunately, Landis' inelegant direction nearly derails the film. Reviewed by: TV Guide.
In past celluloid lives Eddie Murphy has been responsible for a handful of the most popular movies ever made, which explains why he has been able to bring Coming to America to your neighborhood theatre with its misogyny, technical ineptitude and witlessness intact. Reviewed by: Jay Scott of The Globe and Mail (Toronto).