Eddie Murphy shot to fame as a teenager on Saturday Night Live and solidified his hold on our attention thanks to 48 Hours and Beverly Hills Cop, but while those films are iconic kickstarts to the action-comedy genre, it’s possible that you may view Coming to America as Murphy’s best. Filled to the brim with hilarious characters (many of which were played by Murphy and co-star Arsenio Hall) and a fish out of water story about a prince who comes to New York in search of love and a normal life, Coming to America also possesses that rare thing among comedies — it holds up upon repeat viewings (which you can watch on Netflix right now). Which makes it infinitely quotable.
“The royal penis is clean, your Highness.” – Bather
The opening scene of Coming to America does a good job of establishing just how wealthy and powerful Akeem’s family really is. They’re so privileged that they don’t have to lift a finger from the moment they wake up until they sit down to eat breakfast.
“She’s your Queen-to-be. A Queen-to-be forever.” – Oha
Wow, what an introduction. Oha probably hit notes that only five percent of the world can. Which is doubly surprising given his speaking voice and how he carried himself. I’m considering having my future wife walk down the aisle to this song. That may or may not be negotiable.
“I hope you don’t mind me coming over and sitting down. But, I’ve been watching you all evening and I want to tear you apart. And your friend, too.” – Bar Patron
Even Arsenio Hall doesn’t want to see Arsenio Hall in a dress. This entire scene is a big lesson in how many things could go wrong on the dating scene. They come across a devil worshipper, an almost-widow, and Joan of Arc’s reincarnation.
“Look… me and the McDonald’s people got this little misunderstanding. See, they’re McDonald’s. I’m McDowell’s. They got the Golden Arches, mine is the Golden Arcs. You see, they got the Big Mac, I got the Big Mick. We both got two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions, but they use a sesame seed bun. My buns have no seeds.” – Cleo McDowell
I feel like I just watched Vanilla Ice try to explain the difference between “Ice, Ice Baby” and “Under Pressure” again.
“I’m warning you. I will be forced to thrash you.” – Prince Akeem
He may be a spoiled rich kid, but at least Akeem can hold his own in a fight. In one of his earliest roles, Samuel L. Jackson tries to rob McDowell’s with a shotgun just to be outmaneuvered with a mop handle.
“Hi! You know, I started on clean-up just like you guys. But now? See, I’m washing lettuce. Soon I’ll be on fries; then the grill. In a year or two, I’ll make assistant manager, and that’s when the big bucks start rolling in.” – Maurice
The similarities between this scene and the lyrics to a Kanye/Jamie Foxx/Spirit of Ray Charles song make my head hurt.
“And, baby, when I tell ya’ the boy has got his own money, I mean the boy has got his own money!” – Cleo McDowell
Mr. McDowell was greedy. That’s undeniable. So the best way to get on his good side wasn’t to give him money. It was to give him money with your face on it and take the concept of having your own money to a whole new level. He changed his tune pretty quick after that.
“I don’t give a damn who you are. This is America, Jack. And I’ma break my foot off in your royal ass.” – Cleo McDowell
At least Mr. McDowell has some standards. He’s greedy enough to steal McDonald’s entire business model – save for sesame seed buns – but not sell out his family. He’ll even threaten royalty to defend them.
“I walk around the corner, a man walk up, hit me in my chest, right? I fall on the ground, right And I look up and it’s Dr. Martin Luther King. I said ‘Dr. King?’ and he said ‘Ooops, I thought you were somebody else.’ “– Clarence
It’s hard to imagine Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a prominent supporter of non-violence, punching strangers in the chest. But your choices are to believe that or posit that barber shops are a petri dish for boastful bullish*t. Talk about a can’t win situation for you.
“A man has the right to change his name to whatever he wants to change it to. And if a man wants to be called Muhammad Ali, God dammit, this is a free country, you should respect his wishes, and call the man Muhammad Ali!” – Saul
The scenes built around a group of old men (mostly played by Eddie Murphy) in Coming to America are still viewed as fan favorites. They were Akeem’s first taste of America, debating sports, politics and everything else they could think of. The funny thing is, Muhammad Ali had changed his name more than 20 years before this movie was made. Maybe there was a back log of topics?
“Look, the girl doesn’t like you anymore! Can’t you get that through your greasy head?” – Cleo
Daryl was an entitled jerk the entire movie. So it was pretty nice to see him get a door slammed in his face twice and get rejected by the father of the girl who had just dumped him.
“Bark like a dog…” – Prince Akeem
Coming to America took some time to question arranged marriage by having Imani Izzi (Vanessa Bell), Akeem’s arranged bride, do literally anything he said. To prove a point (and have a little hope for humanity), he asked her to bark like a dog, assuming she wouldn’t. He was completely wrong. Eddie Murphy even broke the fourth wall for a quick glance that translates to “…really?”
“Sexual Chocolate. SEXUAL CHOCOLATE! (Mic Drop)” – Randy Watson
Everyone knows at least one Randy Watson. Someone that wanted to make it in the music business, didn’t make it out of the neighborhood, and still tries to live out the dream long after their time has past. Also, at this point it’s feeling like Eddie Murphy is playing half of the roles in the movie himself.
Note: Action Bronson did an interesting reenactment of Coming to America and this scene in his video for “Baby Blue.”
“Mortimer… We’re back!” – Randolph
Randolph and Mortimer Duke were two rich guys that bet on Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd’s characters in Trading Places (1983) and lost all their money. So it was a little treat to Eddie Murphy fans to have them make another appearance in Coming to America.
“F*CK YOU! F*CK YOU! AND F*CK YOU! Who’s next?” – Clarence
If you spend at least an hour in a barbershop – preferably when no kids are around – you’re bound to hear conversations switch from confrontational to friendly in a matter of seconds. It’s just the culture of the business. So statement’s like Clarence’s are all too common.
“Just let your Soul Glow!”
If “She’s Your Queen To Be” isn’t your favorite song from Coming to America, then it has to be “Soul Glow,” a song about Jheri curl conditioner. (This was the ’80s, after all). You can try, but you probably can’t hit these notes either.
“Do not alert him to my presence. I will deal with him myself.” – King Joffer
James Earl Jones was probably at the peak of his fame after voicing Darth Vader in Star Wars. So he had a callback to a line from the trilogy. Of course, the Internet mashed up some audio from Coming to America and video from the original Star Wars trilogy.
So, that wraps up this list of the best Coming to America quotes. Happy? Sing with us!