Back in the late 80s, Eddie Murphy was an up-and-coming actor, and it’s kind of a shame that he isn’t among the very top of the crop today. Best known originally for his wide repertoire of characters, his crude sex-themed humor, his big wide smile, boundless energy and goofy laugh, today he’s probably best known for his “nutty” comedy roles in children’s movies… But that’s not the Eddie we remember.
Having come from a stand-up comedy career at the same Bay Area Comedy Club as Robin Williams and Caryn Johnson (whose stage name eventually became Whoopi Goldberg) before getting into acting, this was an actor who was destined for great things. The role of Winston Zeddemore in Ghostbusters was originally written with him in mind, in fact. He is arguably the biggest movie star ever to come out of Saturday Night Live, was the first actor in the world to be paid in excess of $1 million for their first cinematic role, and is considered a role model by many – including Chris Rock. He may be the only person in the world to have played both a human that can talk to animals (Dr. Dolittle) and an animal that can talk to humans (Donkey in Shrek).
Siskel and Ebert gave this movie two thumbs down, and I understand why. A decade and a half later, however, both of them were looking back at this movie as a classic, and I absolutely understand why as well. The shelf life of movies changes over the years, and this is a movie that is very much of its time.
Show notes and links:
- Coming to America (1988) – IMDb (imdb.com)