There’s the Declaration Of Independence, MLK’s “I Have A Dream Speech,” the Berlin Wall falling and a few notches down the “groundbreaking moments in history” list lies Coming To America. Because, in all honesty, being friends, associates, Twitter followers or anything of the sort is out of the question if someone has the audacity to say the third highest-grossing movie at the U.S. box office in 1988 is anything less than a classic.
Twenty-five years ago today, Eddie Murphy’s now iconic comedy hit theaters. Thanks to equal parts hindsight and generational hearsay, America boasts a quality only a handful of films have had over the past quarter century – replay value. It remains as hilarious as it was the first time the film came into our lives. In fact, take these Seven Commandments of Zamunda that were made on the spot literally right now.
Commandment #1 – Trading Places, Delirious, Beverley Hills Cop I & II, Raw, Coming To America, Harlem Nights. Aside from Michael Jackson, the argument could be made no other top-tier Black celebrity had a greater run in the 1980’s than Eddie Murphy.
Commandment #2 – The “his mama named him Clay…I’ma call him Clay” barbershop scene remains one of the greatest scenes in recorded entertainment history (and it has nothing to do with a young Cuba Gooding, Jr. sitting in the chair). We could argue about this, but why? There are enough quotables in CTA to last four lifetimes. “YES, IN DE FACE!”
Commandment #3 – Randy Watson is a gawd. And nothing less.
Commandment #4 – Flip Wilson is given a large chunk of the credit, but Eddie playing damn near every character was a direct inspiration for what would become Martin three years later.
Commandment #5 – In 1988, Akeem and Semmi were just as unstoppable as Magic and Worthy, Eric B. and Rakim or Montana and Rice.
Commandment #6 – Long live John Amos. The man played James Evans – definitely a top five TV dad ever, if not top three – on Good Times, Reverend Taylor on an episode of The A-Team, Kansas City Mack on Let’s Do It Again and Major Grant in Die Hard 2. He would’ve been Will’s father-in-law on Fresh Prince had Nia Long not gotten cold feet at the alter. Although, sleeping with Will’s mom ended up producing one of the series’ more hilarious moments. And, of course, he was America’s favorite Black entrepreneur in 1988 not named Rayful Edmond as Cleo McDowell of McDowell’s. Keep in mind, that’s just between the years 1975 and 1990. You will respect John Amos. You will.
Update: How Roots was forgotten is beyond me. It’s like I read it in my mind, but forgot to type it. I am distraught right now. Not really, but kind of.
Commandment #7 – Coming To America is a “must-watch” whenever it comes on TV. Seriously, this will be written in the National Museum of African American History and Culture set to open in 2015 on the National Mall. Just watch.