Akeem Joffer, the prince and heir to the throne of the fictitious African country Zamunda, is discontented with being pampered all his life. The final straw is when his parents present him with a bride-to-be he has never met before, trained to mindlessly obey his every command.
Akeem concocts a plan to travel to America to find a wife he can both love and respect. He and his servant & friend Semmi arrive in Queens County, New York, and after several scrapes, find an apartment in the neighborhood of Jackson Heights, and begin working at a local fast food restaurant, passing themselves off as students.
Akeem falls in love with Lisa, his boss' daughter, who possesses the qualities the prince is looking for. The rest of the film centers on Akeem's attempts to win Lisa's hand in marriage, while adjusting to life in America and dodging his royal duties and prerogatives.