Disgustipated’s review published on Letterboxd:
Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy), prince and future king of fictional African nation, Zamunda, wakes up to the smiling faces of three semi-nude maidens and a mini orchestra seated in the mezzanine above his bed. Today is a special day because it is his 21st birthday. According to tradition he has now reached that magical moment in his life when he is to meet and marry the perfect stranger, a most beautiful young woman of fine stock who has been manufactured her whole life to meet his every whim and desire. Albeit, Prince Akeem does not like this idea very much at all, in fact it displeases him greatly. He does not want a woman who loves him because she has been brainwashed to, or because of his status and money. He wants true love!
And so going undercover, he sheds his entourage and his refinements, travels to America and ensconces himself within the squalid, poverty stricken and rat infested stink of Queens, New York. Along with his constantly put-upon and bemoaning man-servant, Semmi (Arsenio Hall), they both take on jobs at the mill stone of capitalist social mobility, fast-food restaurant McDowells (not McDonalds, OK). Where else are you going to find authentic and hard-earned romance? Rather than have your beautiful wife handed to you on a silver platter, it is only the application of blood, sweat, tears and the mastery of the mop and bucket that will reveal your soul mate.
And what would know. Turns out the bosses wide-eyed, pure of heart and beautiful daughter Lisa (Shari Headley) pricks the prince's attention. Obviously, the proverb, "Never shit where you eat" has not quite made it to Zamunda. From there, every single romantic cliché in the book is thrown at this movie in a paint by number exercise of obstructive Mr. Wrongs, meddling parents, bumbling self-sabotage and convaluted misunderstandings.
I guess it is in the generic playbook as well but why this film floated my boat more than some others is simply down to just how damn likeable Akeem and Lisa are. Their burgeoning love and their determined desire for genuine emotion and connection makes you just want to root for them (in the sense that you want to support them getting together I mean). They are just too damn sweet, it gave me a toothache!
Loudly exclaiming in exaltation the word "Fuck!" from every street corner during an obvious lost in translation moment, Eddie Murphy gets a lot of mileage out of these kinds of cultural dissonances between Akeem's homeland and America. He also plays up the class differences as well as we cringe when Akeem displays his constant indifference to money and his excitement about even the most destitute of surroundings. One man's trash is another man's treasure and all that.
This all provides a few laughs here and there, even if the romance turned out the be the stronger part of the film. So, walk on a bed of rose pedals towards your couch, plonk down your butt, shout the word fuck a few times in excited anticipation and grab the nearest hot chick with a heart of gold and settle in for some fun, love and a regular McDowell burger with fries.