A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
It's important to be independent and learn to earn a living rather than being dependent on others. Presents an African country, though fictional, as prosperous. However, women are largely objectified.
Positive Role Models
Successful Black characters run countries, own businesses, look out for family members. But most female characters are stereotypical, concerned only with getting married.
Predominantly Black cast play all manner of characters in different situations. Unfortunately, misogyny arises through objectification of women, many of them naked and compelled to perform sexual acts on male characters. While Lisa is an exception, shown as an ambitious woman with many life goals, the storyline is ultimately about a prince finding a wife. All other female characters either only care about getting married or are too minor to matter. A potential bride for Akeem, Imani, makes demeaning voices to please him in a scene that's supposed to be funny but ends up being cringey. A trans woman is treated as a punchline. Aspects of African American culture, such as barber shops and church gatherings, are playfully and hilariously parodied.
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Violence & Scariness
Attempted armed robbery in a fast-food restaurant. A would-be robber fires a shotgun before he's stopped by someone wielding a mop.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Topless female servants tend to Akeem in the pool, in charge of washing his "royal" penis. While on a date at a basketball game, the sister of Akeem's love interest places her hand underneath his jacket; strongly implied sexual act. The father and king of Akeem's home country talks of the sexual relations he has with his servants, as do Akeem and Semmi. In a montage of women Akeem and Semmi meet while in a bar, women talk of sexual prowess and stamina. Joke about being "free from infection." Nude female backside.
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"F--k" frequently used. "Motherf----r" used a few times. Also "s--t," "a--hole," "goddammit," "hell." One-liner references "sweat from a baboon's balls."
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Products & Purchases
Akeem gets a job (and meets his love interest) at McDowell's, a fast-food restaurant that's clearly a McDonald's copycat. (The owner of the restaurant basically acknowledges this.) Coca-Cola is ordered and consumed.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters are shown drinking cocktails and beer at a bar and at home. Binged shots in a bar. Champagne drinking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Coming to America is a 1988 comedy in which Eddie Murphy is a prince from an African nation who goes to America to search for true love instead of agreeing to an arranged marriage. Akeem is shown in a pool with three topless female servants, getting his body washed, including his penis (not on screen). In addition to this, there's a brief glimpse of a naked female butt. Akeem and his father talk about how they have sex with their maidservants. In a montage of "undesirable" women in a singles' bar, women binge-drink shots and talk about sexual desire and prowess. At a basketball game, the sister of Akeem's love interest reaches underneath Akeem's jacket; sexual stimulation is strongly implied. Frequent profanity includes "f--k" and "motherf----r." A man who tries to commit armed robbery fires his rifle into the ceiling and is then stopped by someone wielding a mop. Coming to America presents a positive view of an African nation, albeit fictional, as prosperous and advanced -- a view not usually seen in other Hollywood movies. Unfortunately, it also presents misogynistic and transphobic messages. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Despite some sexist aspects, this film comes through as a funny trip back to the comedy stylings of 1988. Everything about Coming to America is fairly predictable, but it has its moments -- Murphy and Hall play multiple roles in the movie, and certainly Murphy was in his prime. Some sexist and lurid overtones are cringeworthy, but that's small potatoes compared to the fat-suited Murphy in The Nutty Professor or Norbit. While women are often shown as sex objects or submissive servants here, the female lead is hardworking and good at her job, and she doesn't get taken in by the manipulative behavior of the men around her. Akeem's mother, the queen (Madge Sinclair), doesn't stand idly by when her husband makes bad decisions. Akeem wants to learn how to be responsible for himself. Black characters run countries and own businesses. And, in some of the funniest scenes in the movie, Murphy and Hall parody aspects of African American culture, including barber shops and religious functions.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.