If you analyze Coming To America very well it is a Nollywood movie at heart.
The movie released on June 26, 1988, and stars peak Eddie Murphy hasn't faded in all these years. It still packs a sweet punch as Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall play multiple characters and deliver classic lines.
In Nigeria, Coming to America came to our homes via VHS in the early 90s. It was a huge hit. There are no statistics but I am pretty sure a lot of Nigerians in the early and mid-90s must have watched Coming to America.
The characters of Prince Akeem and his Man Friday Semmi stumbled their way into American pop culture, love and relationships. For many of us, it was our first glimpse into the African American experience that wasn't riddled with bullets and littered with crack vials.
I watched 'Coming to America' so many times that I knew the lines by heart and that included the 'the royal penis is clean your highness' and 'fuck you too' lines. The movie was a bit salty with its language but the rib cracking moments dealt with the PG-13 moments.
It was recently announced that the sequel to the movie was in the works. This news was met with scepticism by quite a few people on Twitter. Sequels are okay but Coming to America 2, that's like messing with our childhoods.
29 years after, Coming to America is still dear to our hearts. And why is that? The truth is that the movie is really a Nollywood movie. Think about it for a second. Coming to America deals with classicism, the rich versus the poor.
Prince Akeem comes from a wealthy family who is in search of a bride from a humble background. This is the plot of majority of the romantic movies that flooded Nollywood in the mid-00s. I can't count the number of Nollywood films I have watched a prince from a village falls in love with a maiden from the poorest family.
The prince is so in love with his poor maiden that he is willing to go against the wishes of the royal family to marry her. Does this sound familiar? Prince Akeem defied his father to marry a young lady from Queens, New York.
What makes Coming to America's plot more intriguing is because it reverses the roles of Akeem and Lisa. Eddie Murphy hides the fact that he is a prince and tells her he is a goat herder. By doing this, Lisa is from the rich background and he is a poor African refugee. Classicism pops up here as Lisa's father is not in support of her relationship with the poor African boy.
Coming to America doubles down on the well-worn but still efficient rich vs poor story line. This is why it is probably the famous Hollywood product loved by Nigerians. The movie is a Nigerian tale at heart. Change the characters- Jim Iyke as Eddie Murphy, Lisa as Monalisa Chinda, Akeem's father played by Pete Edochie, and you have an African Magic classic on our hands.
Eddie Murphy and co. unknowingly told an African story way before the rise of Nollywood and other African movie industries.