Wednesday, February 06, 2008

You Ain't Never Met Martin Luther The King

By Odienator

“Look, me and the McDonalds people, we have this little…misunderstanding,” explains Cleo McDowell (John Amos) to his new workers Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and Semmi (Arsenio Hall). “See, they’re McDonalds. I’m McDowell’s. They have the golden arches. I have the golden arcs. They got the Big Mac. I got the Big Mick. They both have two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions. But they use a sesame seed bun. My buns have no seeds.”

The trio is standing outside a building on the Boulevard of Death in Queens, a building that, with the exception of an M made from arcs instead of arches, looks exactly like a McDonalds. It’s a hilarious sight gag for most people, but for Black folks it’s doubly hilarious. We’re used to knock-offs sprouting up in the ‘hood. On the corner of my brother’s block, for example, there’s a restaurant called Kantacky Fried Chicken. They sell a pail of chicken instead of a bucket. I bet in your ‘hood you can find a [fill in the blank with a place other than Kentucky] Fried Chicken. My cousin said she went someplace ghetto and they had Idaho Fried Chicken. “Their french fries were the shit,” she told me. I bet they were.

Coming to America may be the Blackest comedy ever made, and it’s little touches like McDowell’s that elevate it past the mild amusement it seems to garner from White viewers into the upper echelon of hilarity it occupies for us. It crushes us under the weight of familiarity, to the point where a musical cue or a mere image is enough to inspire raucous laughter. There are so many in-jokes that the film is like an old Negro Spiritual: everybody can hear the music, but only we can understand the code in the words.

I did a little experiment once to see if my theory held water. My best friend came over to the Fortress of OdieTude to watch the movie with me. He loves Coming to America too, and I must point this out, my best friend is a White guy. As the movie ran, I noticed that we laughed together at several points, but there were several moments where I was laughing by myself. After about the third time this happened, my friend sensed that this movie was hitting us on different frequencies. “Why was that funny?” he asked me. At first I thought he was being snarky, but I realized he was genuinely curious. He felt as if he was missing “the best part” of the movie, and he was. So I started explaining different things to him, and if any Paramount reps are reading this, please hire me to do this type of commentary on the next DVD of this movie. You can call it the commentary for the Negro-Impaired or something. On second thought, I’d probably melt the DVD.

Coming To America’s construction senses that it is operating on two parallel frequencies. It starts with an introductory section to get everyone on the same page, then comes to its two-frequency fork in the road. The key to one of these frequencies is Prince Akeem. He is the audience stand-in on this plane of cinematic existence. Viewers watch him come to America and fall in love with a woman with her own mind, one who will fall in love with him without ever knowing that he’s richer than The Donald. It’s not a new story, but it is still sweetly told.

The key to the other is the environment into which Akeem thrusts himself once he leaves the safehaven of his palace. This is the extra frequency Black folks pick up on. Akeem comes to visit the world we inhabit, and watching him learn the things we already know, or react to the local color (pun intended) is what gives the movie its hilarious shadings. Once again, it’s the familiarity of the situation. Akeem reacts, and his reactions are never negative. He’s as oblivious as my White pal to what’s really going on. He’s just following his story arc. We’re behind him pointing and laughing at the shit he’s missing.
The first quarter of the film is set in Zamunda, a fictional African country where the star of Delirious has his face printed on the money. Eddie Murphy’s Akeem awakens on his 21st birthday and embarks on some rather extreme I-just-won-the-lottery-fantasy rituals. He has people to wipe his ass, rose petals are thrown under his feet wherever he steps, and naked women tend to washing the royal penis in the tub. Yet he is unsatisfied with his life. “I’ve done nothing for myself,” he tells his father King Jaffe (James Earl Jones). Jaffe explains to him that it’s a perk of being the future king of an African paradise.

Turning 21 means you get to drink in this country; in Zamunda, turning 21 gives you the reason to start drinking. Akeem is scheduled to marry the daughter of an esteemed military captain played by the original Biggie Smalls himself, Calvin Lockhart. The princess (Vanessa Bell Calloway) has been raised solely for the purpose of serving her new husband. At the wedding, she makes an entrance Bette Davis would envy. After a huge, African dance number choreographed by a pre-alky-on-American-Idol Paula Abdul, Calloway walks down the aisle looking resplendent in a beautiful dress. The dress has a train that is longer than the Long Island Rail Road. And who can forget Paul Bates (currently seen in Walk Hard) and his stirring rendition of the hilarious wedding song. I don’t think people really listen to the lyrics, so here they are. I’m quite partial to the ninth line.

She's your queen to be
A queen to be forever
A queen to be whatever
His highness desires

She's your queen to be
A vision of perfection
An object of affection
To quench your royal fires

Completely free from infection
To be used at your discretion
Waiting only for your direction
Your queen to be

Now, a note to the bougie Negroes and liberal White folks who thought this section of the film was some kind of offensive representation of African culture: SIT YO’ ASS DOWN. Find me another movie where this much glitz and glamour, on such a grand scale, has been afforded people of color. Even the servants were dressed to the nines. More importantly, in both of the worlds Akeem inhabits, he’s the odd man out. Everyone and everything around him does what it does; it is he who has to make the adjustments (hence his role as audience stand-in). It’s why we follow him, and in terms of creating a plausible universe for this visitor to our small ghetto planet, the production team and the costume designer do a great job. This isn’t rap-thug bling, this is REAL bling. Ain’t no 22-inch rims on an elephant, but they can still wear diamonds. I was ready to move to Zamunda.

King Jaffe sends Akeem and Semmi to America so Akeem can “sow his royal oats.” Akeem has other ideas, and confides them in Semmi. He wants to find his queen, someone who can love him for him, not because she’s been brainwashed. The two settle on New York, but where, they ask, can they find a queen? The globe spins, and it stops on the one place in New York where finding a queen is easy:

The East Village.

Just kidding! They decide on Queens, home of the Mets, the U.S. Open, and Satan’s own personal Lionel Train Set, the number 7 Flatbush line. Once in Queens, Semmi and Akeem, like the audience, become immersed in urban culture. They arrive in the neighborhood wielding more rich-people’s luggage than Paris Hilton, which is immediately emptied by the neighbors while the pair is negotiating a room with a skeevy landlord (Frankie Faison). Akeem says “we require meager accommodations,” as he doesn’t want his queen to know he’s loaded. Faison finds them something that redefines meager as decrepit.

"It's a damn shame what they did to that dog," says Faison.

In the basement of the building is the My-T Sharp Barber shop, owned by Mr. Clarence (Murphy in old man makeup) and frequented by typical barber shop space-takers (Arsenio Hall plays one, as does Clint Smith) and an atypical Jewish one (Eddie Murphy, showcasing Rick Baker’s Oscar nominated makeup work). They shoot the shit found in most barber shops, and they did it before Ice Cube’s entertaining though restrained Barbershop. Some of the best scenes in the film happen in this barbershop, including lines I say to this day:

"He beat Joe Louis' ass!"

"Frank Sinatra sat in this chair once! I said Frankie, just between you and me: How old is Joe Louis? He said Joe Louis was 137 years old!" (Xtra credit: Who's sitting in that chair?)

"I don't know how old he was, all I know is he got his ass kicked."

Akeem and Semmi try the dating scene at a club, leading to one of those popular montages from the 80’s. The women they meet are memorable, hilarious, terrifying, and I think I dated a few of their types.

"Yeah, I'm almost single. My husband's on Death Row!"

"I have a secret. I worship the DEVIL!"

"A man's gotta put in ovatime to get me off!"

"My name is Peaches and I'm the best. All the DJ's want to feel my breast..."

What Arsenio Hall is doing right...this...minute.

“Is it my imagination,” Akeem says to Semmi after surviving the club, “or does every woman in New York City have severe emotional problems?” Before Semmi can answer (and to prevent me from saying “YES!”), Mr. Clarence invites them to a church rally. “There’s girls there, “ he eagerly tells them, “Nice clean girls!” Akeem and Semmi go, and this is when the film truly goes off the rails into hood hilarity.

First the event is a combination beauty pageant/church function held in a gym and presided over by Reverend Brown (Arsenio Hall). As the women stand up to be judged by the judges and ogled by the audience, Reverend Brown says these women are proof "that there's a Gaaaawwwd. Somewhere! Hugh Hefner can take the picture, but only Gawwwwd, the Hugh Hefner on High, can make it!" Reverend Brown gets happy on stage too. The event is catered by McDowells, and while the sights are nice, the sounds are not.

Reverend Brown introduces a young man we may remember "from the What's Goin' Down episode of That's My Mama." He asks us to put our hands together for Randy Watson. The crowd is less than enthusiastic, and soon it is clear why. Watson, backed by his band Sexual Chocolate, sings the worst rendition of The Greatest Love Of All, a song numerous people have done on Amateur Night at the Apollo. At the end of the number, nobody applauds and Watson throws a fit that has him saying his band name over and over. It's hilarious.

"Sexual Chocolate! Sexual Chocolate!"

Also at the rally is Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley), daughter of Cleo and heir to the McDowell’s empire (unless McDonalds wins that trademark lawsuit). Akeem is instantly smitten by her poise, her comfort in speaking before a crowd, and her humanitarian efforts (the Black Awareness rally was her idea). And she’s not bad looking, either.

Unfortunately for Akeem, Lisa is seriously dating Darryl (Eriq LaSalle), the heir to the Soul Glo empire. Soul Glo is the latest hair care product for hood rats, a knock-off on the jHeri curl craze of the time. The product itself is jHeri curl activator, an oil-like spray that’s highly flammable and casually destructive to furniture, pillows and hats. The commercial for Soul Glo is so over the top ghetto fabulous that not even Don Cornelius would have allowed it to be run on Soul Train. A guy sings in a falsetto so high that his nuts must be in a vice; “Just let your SOULLLLLLL-GLOOOOOOOOOO!” A congested saxophone plays over the wailing. It’s painful, but I dare you to try to get it out of your head.

Much to Semmi’s protests, Akeem gets the two of them a job at McDowell’s so he can be closer to Lisa. Lisa finds Akeem charming, but truth be told, he’s too broke for her. Still, she tries to hook him up with her sister, Patrice (Allison Dean). Patrice is, to quote my Mom, “a little, fast piece of tail,” and though she gives Akeem a bigger thrill at Madison Square Garden than the Knicks ever could, he still finds himself drawn to Lisa. He sets out to win her, but being from Africa, he has no idea how hard it is to get jHeri Curl stains out of anything. Darryl won’t go down without a fight, and neither Cleo nor his pocket could be happier when Darryl pops the question to Lisa at Cleo’s ritzy house party. Lisa isn’t happy, since she wasn’t consulted before the engagement was made. It’s enough to throw her into Akeem’s arms. Sounds like a happy ending, right? Just remember: jHeri Curl stains are impossible to get rid of, not even with Shout-It-Out.

Meanwhile, in response to a “send more money” telegram Semmi sent, King Jaffe and Queen Aoleone (Madge Sinclair) show up in New York to rescue their son. This throws a wrench in Akeem’s plans and turns the film briefly into a door slamming farce. Cleo, knowing that Akeem is a prince, has to get rid of Darryl and act way-too-nice to the King and Queen while he finds out where Akeem is. Like most farce, it ends with disaster, but not before John Amos gets the best line in the movie.

"This is America, Jack! Say one more thing about my daughter, and I'ma break my foot off in your royal ass!"

Coming to America was supposed to present us with a kindler, gentler Murphy, which it does despite all its R-rated profanity. (Remember when Eddie delighted in saying “fuck?” Guess Dr. Doolittle’s animals can’t sound like they’re working the chitlin’ circuit, so no more “fuck”ing for Ed.). Murphy’s Akeem is a fine creation, vulnerable, naïve and hopelessly romantic. There’s a scene late in the film where he is walking home from his first date with Lisa, and it is easily the most romantic thing Eddie has ever done. As he glides down the street, he sings Jackie Wilson’s To Be Loved in that crappy African accent he provides Akeem. Murphy sells it—this is what it feels like to be a bruva in love.

Murphy also begins his multiple role appearance association with Rick Baker here. He and Arsenio assume several guises in the film besides the two male leads. Hall’s preacher is hilarious, finding inappropriate places to inject his love of de Lawd. Murphy’s Clarence is the perfect barber, and I didn’t even know ths Jewish guy, Saul, was him until his final appearance in the credits. Akeem does the typical Eddie in 80’s movies thing, that is, serve as the guide for White America, but his secondary characters are rooted in our culture and experiences.

James Earl Jones deserves an entire episode of Maury. He’s everybody’s father. Akeem can count as siblings Simba from the Lion King, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia among others. The man gets around, and no matter how distinguished his voice is, he relishes the low-class lines of dialogue he’s given in Coming to America. He sells them all, including “I was always under the impression you had sex with your bathers. I know I do!” His Cheshire Cat expression underscores his brilliant comic delivery.

He's paired, and not for the last time, with the late Madge Sinclair, she of the high cheekbones, beautiful skin and melodious Jamaican voice. Sinclair lends the film a motherly gravitas, but she also has a wicked sense of humor when dealing with Cleo McDowell. Watch how she barely hides her displeasure everytime he comes near her. For someone so poised, it's fun to watch her crack while trying to maintain it.

Shari Headley makes a nice romantic lead, and she wins, hands down, the pissed off sistah look award. When someone does or says something she dislikes, she fires off that look. It’s enough to make you jump out of your skin. Her big breakup scene with Murphy carries some hurt and sting because she had let her guard down so slowly during the film. When she finally succumbs to Akeem's charms, she asks "what about Patrice?" He replies, "I am not interested in Patrice." She then asks, "what about Darryl." Akeem pauses, and says "I am not interested in Darryl either."

There are also cameos by the likes of Vondie Curtis-Hall, as a fellow Zamundan and Louie Anderson, as a McDowell's worker (his line gives Kanye West his best lyric in the song Gold Digger: "this week he's mopping floors, next week it's the fries"). But one cameo stops this film cold, turning it into a terrifying drama. That cameo is by Samuel L. Jackson, and nobody told him this was a comedy. As a shotgun-wielding robber, Jackson commands the screen and for a hot minute, you really believe it when he says he's going to shoot people. It's funny that Jackson gets his ass beat by Eddie Murphy, but before that--Samuel "Yell" Jackson has you by the throat.

Director John Landis worked with Eddie in his overall best movie, Trading Places, and he does a good job here as well, stepping back and letting his cast and crew riff and relate. He manages to get in two in-jokes for his primary audience as well, including a cameo by Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy, setting the stage for a Trading Places sequel that never came.

Hey, weren't you in our last movie?

Murphy’s next two movies, Boomerang and Harlem Nights (which he directed) form what I call his Black Love trilogy. Black folks love them more than any movie he’s done until Dreamgirls (I can’t stand Harlem Nights) and it’s because, like his stage comedy, they feel like he’s speaking directly to us while simultaneously entertaining the majority.

They're right! Landis DOES have "See you next Wednesday in every movie he's directed.

Yeah, Juno got that hamburger phone idea from me. Bitch ain't even give me credit, neither, Florida!

Your Homework Assignment:

Sing "She's Your Queen to Be" to your queen. Of any variety.


Anonymous said...

I am a White guy who laughed his buttocks off at this movie in 1988 (at a jam-packed screening in a gigantic old Westwood theater -- back when they still allowed Eddie Murphy movies in Westwood), gave it an enthusiastic review in a major Southern California newspaper, and was made to feel that I should be ashamed for praising such trash. (I didn't recognize all those Eddie Murphys until the credits, either!) I believe my "transgression" was later forgiven when it became a monster hit and Art Buchwald sued Paramount.

Thank you for this splendid appreciation -- and, I feel, retroactive personal validation.

P.S. I had seen Samuel L. Jackson in bit parts (Eddie's Uncle in a sketch from "Eddie Murphy Raw," Leeds in "School Daze," Gang Member #2 in "Raw"), but his appearance didn't seem like a cameo at the time. He was just a working-stiff actor, who wouldn't get much notice until Love Daddy in "DTRT" (1989) and his breakthrough as Gator in "Jungle Fever" (1991). He went on to play Black Guy in "Sea of Love" (1990) and Blind Man in Dream in "Exorcist III" (also 1990).

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant to say Mr. Jackson played Gang Member #2 in "Ragtime," not "Raw." Let us not forget he also played Taxi Dispatcher in "Betsy's Wedding" (Alan Alda, 1990) and B-Bop in "Johnny Suede" (Tom DiCillo, 1991).

Ty Keenan said...

I submit that Sexual Chocolate is one of the funniest scenes ever committed to film.

And, if it matters, I'm a Jew from San Francisco.

Ali Arikan said...

At the end of the number, nobody applauds

Clint Smith does! And he does so fervently. He does so passionately. A little wink at repressed homosexuality, maybe?

The film is chock full of moments to cherish, with my favourite being the cheeky sideways glance Madge Sinclair shares with John Amos at the end of the movie, to James Earl Jones’s total obliviousness (running a close second to Cuba Gooding Jr’s embarrassed smile during Murphy’s interminable diatribes).

The most memorable scenes are definitely the ones in the barbershop. As I said on Scanners, the film is endlessly quotable, and that can get annoying I suppose, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t quote, to my mind, the best exchange of the film here:

Saul: 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!

Morris: His mamma call him Clay, I’ma call him Clay.

By the way, another example of Eddie Murphy’s excellent “Old Jewish Man” voice is in The Distinguished Gentleman (“I learned it from the Gin King of Miami Beach”).

Greg said...

It's Cuba Gooding in the chair as best as I can tell. I haven't seen this movie in years but I loved it.

Someone recently asked me if they should see it and I said "definitely" but check out Trading Places first. "Why?" she asked. "Because there's a joke in it that only makes sense if you've seen Trading Places," I said. "So," she said, "it's one joke." "But yeah," I said, "don't you want to appreciate it on all levels?" The conversation on the movie pretty much ended there. I have to remind myself sometimes that not everyone is a freakish completist. I've become accustomed to the movie blogs too much.

I'm curious as a white guy about the jokes your friend didn't find funny. Which ones? Because everything you described about McDowell's was funny to me and everyone else I think. How could you not get the humor in that no matter what neighborhood you're from? But what were the parts you laughed at that your friend didn't? Did he see they were making a joke but didn't find it funny or did he completely miss that there was a joke there at all?

And great post - very enjoyable reading.

odienator said...

Ali: Clint Smith does! And he does so fervently. He does so passionately. A little wink at repressed homosexuality, maybe?

You are absolutely right! I forgot about that. I did remember that Clint says beforehand "Damn, that boy is good!" And Mr. Clarence says "yeah, good and terrible."

I think Jones is purposefully oblivious, which is what makes him so damn funny. His throwaway lines seem to indicate he's a rather absentee father though. James: "You've grown a mustache!" Madge: "It's been a year, Jaffe."

And in The Distinguished Gentleman my favorite scene is when Eddie uses his MLK voice to call that place to find out if they hire minorities. "Do ya have any AAAAAA-sians workin' there?"

Jim, glad you were vindicated for your review. Perhaps I shouldn't have used the word "cameo," because back then we didn't know who Sam Jackson was. I do know that after that, I always recognized him. I don't remember him in Ragtime, but I do remember him laughing his ass off after Bud from the Cosby Show told that dirty joke in Raw. And lest we forget, he's one of the thugs who beats Denzel to a pulp in Mo' Better Blues (also 1990!).

Ty: Every so often, I'm compelled to stomp my feet and scream "Sexual Chocolate! Sexual Chocolate!" Making matters worse, I wore a tuxedo the same color as Randy Watson's outfit back in 1984 when I was an usher in a wedding. This is one of the numerous reasons why pictures of me from the 80's will never be shown to anyone!

Boone said...

Odie, as with your House Party piece, you got it all in.

Saw the movie at Yonkers Movieland in 1988. When Sam J robbed McDowell's, he was nobody but a 100% real stick-up dude to me. "Anybody move, I'll blow their fuckin head off." Having stared down the barrel of more than one robbbers' gun, I appreciate the fact that Sam got right what most movie hold-up men get dead wrong: The desperation. In Ho'wood's imagination, the robber usually has way too much fun and seems way too fearless.

That's part of the realism jam-packed into Coming to America, despite its fantasy premise. This film is as real to me and as close to the heart of The Black Community as The Color Purple. My Kenyan brother-in-law said that when he arrived in NY around the same time as Akeem, he was Akeem. He says he smiled all the time and thought of America as the promised land. It took only a year in the grind for his smile to fade. Coming from a country ruled by black people, he couldn't believe 1.) the casual, unconscious racism that seemed to be everywhere here or 2.) the casual, unconscious servility he saw in even the most verbally rebellious African-Americans. He became depressed.

Coming to America is beautiful because it never lets this happen to Akeem. He escapes back to the real promised land (Eddie's Africa is just as yearning and heartbroken a vision as Celie's Africa) and brings a worthy bride with him. She escapes to a dream that a lot of working-class and working-poor women carry around silently.

Real as it is, this film soars above realities like Amadou Diallo and the tension between African disapora immigrants and native-born African-Americans. As apolitically as possible, it says we're all brothers, and look at the absurd ways America pushes us together/forces us apart.

John Landis brought his ethnographic fascination with black folk and his blunt, classical storytelling style. He times his cuts and pauses for the crowded movie theater, but the lingering reaction shots and inserts still murder on the small screen. I have probably watched the Sexual Chocolate scene more times than Star Wars (10,000 maybe?) and it destroys me every time.

Norbit is Akeem's nightmare. There's no real black people in it, no real love, no texture and only an asshole's vision of the melting pot.

Sorry to rant, but your piece threw this movie on the front burner. I think we'll be on the phone about this one.

Jim, you might be an octoroon.

odienator said...

Jonathan: I'm curious as a white guy about the jokes your friend didn't find funny.

A few examples:

I'm surprised I didn't include this exchange in my original review:

Mr. Clarence: What kind of chemical you put in your hair?
Akeem: I do not use any chemical. Just juices and berries.
Mr. C: Shit! That ain't nuthin' but an Ultra Perm.

He didn't find Arsenio's preacher funny. He didn't realize it was a parody. For me, it's the hair that does me in. He had that old preacher hair, that looked as if it had been straightened by a drunk hot comb.

The funniest scene in the movie for me remains when the jHeri curl family gets up off the couch to reveal those huge activator stains in the back of the couch. I remember when I saw Coming to America in the theater, I fell out of my chair (we were in the front row) and was laying on the floor laughing uncontrollably. My cousin fell on top of me and we were just on the floor laughing until we cried.

My friend had never experienced anyone with jHeri Curl juice, so he didn't get the joke. A lot of the jHeri Curl humor went over his head.

Also, and this is solely due to me being older than my friend, he didn't know who Babar was. When the elephant extends his trunk to Eddie, he says "Hello, Babar." I laughed.

Saul: "Whadda you know from humor, ya bastards?!"

Bill said...

My buddy and I were trading lines from our favorite quotable movies, and when I sang "Let your Sooooooool Gloooooooow!" in my best falsetto, the smile on his face dropped.

"You don't understand, I had family members who used that stuff. My dad's favorite chair still has a big stain on it from activator."

Comb & Razor said...

this post brought tears to my eyes. then it made me want to go cut out of the office and go watch Coming to America for the zillionth time.

such a perfect movie... and such a "Black" movie, that it always struck me as ridiculous that anybody ever entertained the notion that Art Buchwald could have written it! Black people recreationally quote this movie to each other the way white guys do Caddyshack!

(i guess Anchorman is the new Caddyshack, though... and its appeal seems to have cut across races more, too)

thanks for the "She's Yoru Queen to Be" transcription too... i don't know how many times i've sung that song without knowing what the hell Bates was even saying!

Greg said...

I can see what you're saying a lot more clearly now. The activator stain is funny regardless, but if you have had actual experiences like that, I can understand it being hilarious.

I've gotta go work on my post now about how Lost in America is the whitest comedy ever made.

odienator said...

JL: I've gotta go work on my post now about how Lost in America is the whitest comedy ever made.

I'll be first in line to read that! I love Lost in America but I bet there's a lot I don't get.

cramer said...

I happen to know the beat reporter for the Cincinnati Reds, and he told me that Coming to America was hands-down the clubhouse favorite — they watched it before games on several occasions and traded favorite lines.

In fact, as a bit if an inside joke to the rest of the team, and just because he's a funny guy, Ken Griffey Jr used Let Your Soul Glo as his at-bat music. I was there when he debuted it and laughed hysterically. As the season wore on, he added other songs to the rotation, but Soul Glo always showed up at least once a game.

odienator said...

Cramer, I can't imagine Marge Schott allowing that! Coincidentally, I once literally bumped into Marge Schott at a Reds game. We collided at the concession stand. I said "Oh Snap! It's Marge Schott!" She said...well I can't tell you. :)

Ty Keenan said...

I don't understand how anyone could not find the preacher funny.

Thanks for clarifying the specific parts that seem hood to you, Odie. I agree with Jonathan that pretty much all those things are funny regardless, but it does seem there's an extra kick. In that way, I think it reminds me of something like Portnoy's Complaint (the novel, not the movie) in that everyone can relate to the humor, but there's something extra special about how he fucks a piece of liver instead of some other foodstuff.

Anonymous said...

As a white guy from the Bronx, I just want to say that I love frequenting the Kennedy Fried Chicken on Kingsbridge Road...

odienator said...

Kennedy Fried Chicken must be a chain. They have them in Jersey City too. I didn't even know JFK liked fried chicken! I can't wait for Clinton Fried Chickens to show up.

Anonymous said...

LOL.. I am about as white as they come, but this movie cracked me up hard. I saw teh Arsenio hair as a hack on Al Sharpton's ridiculous pompadour..

But maybe it's 'cuz my dad was a teacher and dean at Stevenson HS for like 20 years.. And I took the 6 from near the end of the line near Lehman to manhattan every day for school for 5 years.. Sort of like having NYC teachers for parents makes you 1/16th Jewish..

(And call me a cracker, but I'll take White Castle over Kennedy FC anyday..)

Arran said...

This shit is international. I'm a white guy in New Zealand who has watched this movie pretty much annually since I was about 9. I think it actually gets funnier the older I get (I'm now 27) as I get a lot more of the gags.

Just yesterday I made a Sexual Chocolate reference to my friend and lamented the fact that Eddie never says "fuck" any more. At this point I'd pay to see a movie just to hear him say it. Sigh. I even adore The Distinguished Gentleman.

"And in conclusion: read my lips."

Tony said...

We have (had? I dunno if it's still there since I moved away) a Kennedy Fried Chicken in Worcester, MA too. I didn't know it was a chain.

"Coming to America" is one of those movies that I always watch when it's on TV. Maybe I don't get every joke, but I get enough where it's absolutely hilarious.

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