I guess we should count our blessings, such as they are. For the first time since Bowfinger, we got to watch Eddie Murphy act in last year’s Dreamgirls. Bill Condon’s adaptation of the legendary Broadway musical was supposed to represent a first step back to legitimacy for the wayward Murphy, but, after losing Best Supporting Actor to Alan Arkin (who should’ve won for something two decades ago, but that’s how the Academy operates), the comic stormed out of the Kodak Theater and beelined for Starship Dave, a sci-fi comedy that, as directed by the useless Brian Robbins, will likely rival The Adventures of Pluto Nash for career-snuffing awfulness.
It’s impossible to say for sure whether the validation of the Academy would’ve inspired the egocentric Murphy to move outside of his family-friendly comfort zone (personally speaking, as a guy who swiped his erstwhile online moniker from Trading Places, it still hurts me to the core of my being to type "family-friendly" in relation to Eddie Murphy), but what’s done is done. And what’s getting done is garbage. Okay, maybe Karey Kirkpatrick’s live-action directorial debut, NowhereLand, has a little bit of potential; Kirkpatrick did earn a screenwriting credit on the wonderful Chicken Run. And he’s working from a script by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, two fairly clever fellas who last teamed on Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. But it’s still a kiddie flick.
Unfortunately, Murphy’s next film, A Thousand Words (written by Click‘s Steve Koren), in which he’ll play (per Variety) "a glib man who finds out that he has only 1,000 words left to speak before he dies", doesn’t sound like a return to R-rated glory either. Worse, it’ll be directed by Brian Robbins, so it’s guaranteed to be one of the ten worst films of whichever year it’s released.
It’s depressing to consider this, but the only hope for Murphy now is for Lorenzo di Bonaventura to commission a great, rowdy script for Beverly Hills Cop IV. Of course, Lorenzo will need to bump director F. Gary Gray off the project entirely (if he’s even still attached), but that shouldn’t be too difficult (the beginning of that conversation is "You know, I finally watched Be Cool last night, and…"). After the marginal success of Rocky Balboa, an 80s nostalgia trip is entirely viable. Still, it should never have come to this. Murphy is a Peter Sellers-level performer; he can go ahead and be a shitty human being, but, in terms of talent, he shouldn’t be tapped out at forty-six.