On his Hollywood Elsewhere blog Jeffrey Wells has begun a campaign to “take down” Eddie Murphy in the Oscar race. We’re not even going to get into whether or not a blogger can “take down” anything besides the buffet at a junket – we’ll take Wells at his word. The reasoning for his new campaign of hate?
I’ve seen that bored-indifferent, man-am-I-rich, leave-me-alone look on Murphy’s face too many times, and I’d be tickled if the Oscar camera could catch him scowling when Mark Wahlberg or Alan Arkin win instead. He may have the Oscar in the bag, but I keep hearing he’s not very well liked in the industry and that he’s regarded as a bit of an asshole. Plus he was too cool to show up for any one of those three swanky Dreamgirls press events that Terry Press threw last year. It’ll just take a little blogosphere surge to make it happen…maybe. Or maybe not.
Wells does eventually get to a point regarding Murphy’s performance in Dreamgirls, but it takes him a while to get past all the personal reasons he wants Murphy to lose the Oscar.
There’s more Murphy hate brewing out there – Radar has been foaming at the mouth about him (maybe they should spend some of that passion on keeping the magazine afloat), but the reality is that these people won’t kill Murphy’s Oscar chances. Only Eddie Murphy can do that. Specifically Eddie Murphy in a giant fat suit.
If you live in one of the major media markets – especially LA or New York, where most of the Academy make their homes – you have seen ads or billboards for Norbit, the latest sub-Jerry Lewis piece of shit Murphy has turned out where he plays multiple roles for seemingly no reason beyond a latex fetish. These “wacky” family movies are usually big hits, and they’re Murphy’s bread and butter at this point in his career (which, by the way, makes his Dreamgirls performance, full of nuance and emotion, all the more impressive). Norbit won’t screen for critics, of course, but that won’t stop it from making a bunch of money, which is what it’s designed to do. But why the hell is this movie coming out now? Academy voters will be inundated with advertising for this movie that reminds them of the worst stuff Murphy has been doing for the last few years, and that can only hurt him. What’s especially strange is that Paramount is releasing Norbit – the same company (with Dreamworks) that put out Dreamgirls. Even people I’ve talked to inside of Paramount are dismayed at the decision to pollute the Oscar campaign with Norbit. ‘Have you ever made a really big mistake?’ the Norbit tagline asks. Paramount may soon be saying yes.
Eddie Murphy has some strong momentum coming into the Oscars, with wins in both the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards, and I am rooting for him. Even though I find his career choices for most of the last decade questionable at best – this guy truly is suspect – there’s no way to deny his talent. An Oscar could be the kind of impetus Murphy needs to do good work again. And I’m not talking about Jim Carrey-style dramatic mugging for the camera – James “Thunder” Early is a great character for Murphy because it allows him to be funny – I mean solid, comedic work in movies that could possibly appeal to adults of normal intelligence levels. This doesn’t seem like it’s too much to ask for.