Eddie, Eddie, Eddie. And no, I am not speaking about the abysmal movie Eddie with Whoopi Goldberg. Ugh, that just sent shivers down my spine.
No, instead I speak about the abysmal movie career choice/choices that Eddie Murphy has chosen in this lifetime. What happened to our ‘heh heh heh’ guy? Oh right, Beverly Hills Cop 3 happened. Thanks a ton, John Landis.
I speak of the good old days, the all or nothing days. The days when Eddie Murphy was both racy and funny as fuck. Funny as fuck is funnier than funny as hell. Trust me, the devil told me once. He never lies.
Eddie Murphy used to be funny. Not in the ‘PG, boy there’s some fart jokes and crazy hijinks’ type of funny. It was more along the lines of, “R rated, fuck all that shit man. I’m a funny fucker.” type of funny.
Where to begin? I guess I should begin where he hit his stride, his comedic repertoire was given a chance to shine and he could gain notoriety as the one guy who would say and do the things nobody else would. Of course, like my last ‘I’m missing someone’ article about Steve Martin, Eddie Murphy was also showcased very well on Saturday Night Live. You’d think it was some sort of breeding ground for top movie talent.*
But while he was on, the only real talents on the show were Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo (sorry Gilbert Gottfried) and we all remember who made Dead Heat. I don’t have to go into detail as to why Eddie Murphy’s run on SNL was a brilliant cross between intelligent humor and in your face comedy about race. I’ll just mention Gumby, Buckwheat, undercover as a white man, Mr. Robinson and his Stevie Wonder impression. Even when he messed up during a segment, he just rolled with it, yelling at the crowd.
While still on the show, he knew his time had come and he jumped right into film making his feature film debut in 48 Hours with everyone’s favorite mugshot, Nick Nolte. A fun action comedy (which was to become a staple of Murphy’s), it was a smash hit and because of a Nolte illness, Murphy became the only cast member to host SNL while still a cast member. For some reason, I remember this, and I was only 2 years old. I’m lucky if I remember what I ate yesterday.
He then did Trading Places with future ‘I Miss’ cast member Dan Akroyd. A fun Prince and the Pauper redux, it was a bigger hit than his first film and he was looking like a mint to Paramount. We’ll skip Best Defense for the simple fact that it shouldn’t be mentioned ever again. Instead he made a small stand up comedy film called Delirious that made a bit of a splash. It made the makers of red leather suits millions and offended many people worldwide. Not his best stand up though…
But then he went right into filmdom’s premier tailpipe stuffing cop movie, Beverly Hills Cop. Axel Foley became a phenomenon and is one of his films I can still just throw in my DVD player and have a blast, no matter what my mood is. Plus it had some great music and the always under-appreciated Judge Reinhold.
He went a different route next and went with the supernatural comedy The Golden Child. Not one of my faves, but a decent comedy that still did tremendous business. He was on a role that Hollywood doesn’t see as often anymore** He then had a double whammy with Beverly Hills Cop II and one of my favorite stand up comedy films of all time, Raw. Just the name shows how much it’s going to offend and make you laugh. Stand up comedy movies don’t have that event status anymore in theaters. I can’t remember a time now that a comedian by himself could open his own stand up movie to make money. The only ones that do any business now are films with 3 to 4 different comedians, so you get a good 30 minute set with each of them.
Then came the duo we hadn’t been waiting for but was surprisingly not too bad of Arsenio Hall and Eddie Murphy in the film Coming to America. A fun film that still did a hell of a lot of business, but then his next film was the first bump in his career. Harlem Nights, the drama he co-wrote (with Charlie Murphy!), starred, directed, produced, was best boy and did craft services for came out. A vanity project through and through, all I can say is that I don’t like that film whatsoever. Boring is usually another word I associate with that film. I remember being a kid and my dad letting me rent a film at our neighborhood video store and I saw the cover. Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor… with old time clothes? Was this some sort of gangster comedy?
No. It wasn’t. That was a dollar I could never get back again.
His next 5 films were all a bit of mis-step for him. Two were sequels to movies that shouldn’t have been made (Another 48 Hours and the already mentioned Beverly Hills Cop III), a political comedy (The Distinguished Gentleman), one was a decent comedy that all my friends loved at that time (Boomerang) and one was one of the worst pieces of crap in horror history, directed by one of the great horror storytellers (Vampire in Brooklyn and Wes Craven… respectively).
Then came the Klumps. Everyone laughed in the theater, even I did. I can’t help but laugh at people in fat suits (well, not always Mr. Lawrence). It revitalized his ailing career. Or did it? It made a ton*** of money and showed the public still liked Eddie Murphy. But what version of Eddie was this? This wasn’t the R-rated, f bomb spewing Murphy of years past. This was a PG-13, crude fart humor Eddie Murphy. And after the laughter, I didn’t like where this was headed.
He must not have either, because he jumped into the underrated and under performing R-rated action/comedy Metro. It starred a triple threat in the likes of Murphy, Michael Rappaport and Donal Logue. But even that couldn’t get audiences into the seats. Then he voiced Mushu in the ‘Wait, that was a Disney cartoon?’ Mulan. Then came another one of his crappy remakes, this time taking the timeless Rex Harrison classic Doctor Dolittle and just trouncing on the good memory of it.
Then came a double whammy that he wouldn’t soon forget. One was the infamous arrest of picking up a transvestite prostitute and claiming he was just trying to give ‘her’ a ride to safety. I love that skit. Oh wait, it was real life and he spent a night in jail. And then the second of whammys came when he released Holy Man. Wow, now that was a stinker. And it wasted the fine Jeff Goldblum too.
To this day, I still say that even though he had already had two profitable children films under his belt, the arrest and public backlash that was waiting to happen coaxed him into shedding his once bright star and bringing out the new and children improved Eddie Murphy. But first he had to do the film Life with Martin Lawrence to see if this was true. And the film did halfway decent box office, but nowhere near the good old days of R-rated comedies. And then the last film that I liked him in (and another starring the once great Steve Martin) was Bowfinger.
Easy sequel with the more lewd The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. I was forced to see that turd in theaters. I don’t know how I was convinced, but I know a relationship ended because of it. And then he did the terribly unfunny claymation PJ’s. I still wonder how that lasted 2 seasons. There really wasn’t anything on UPN, was there?
Now I’ll say a little something about Shrek. I really liked the film. I thought it was Dreamworks showing that they could compete with Pixar. Thanks for showing I was wrong with the two Shrek sequels. And it’s funny, I thought number 2 was bad, but The Third, I didn’t know they could stoop so low. It took them 8 years to make another fun animated film.****
I won’t delve into the pile of shit he brought upon us after the first Donkey infused film. I’ll just mention them by name. Dr. Dolittle 2, Showtime, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, I Spy, Daddy Day Care and Disney trying to show they could strike gold again with a movie based on a ride, The Haunted Mansion.
A glimmer of hope came about with Dreamgirls. I was surprised to see him acting again and not just phoning it in. I was relieved to see him getting some buzz for awards. Then he acted like an ass and left the Oscars when he didn’t win. Didn’t he know that you need to play nice to be nominated again in a few years. But we all know that won’t happen with films like Norbit or the newly released and bombing worse than Mike Myers racist/ little person bashing extravaganza, Meet Dave.
What happened to the old Eddie Murphy? The one that liked to ‘party all the time’ and ‘boogie in the butt’? The guy who could make a nation laugh. Now he makes the lowest common denominator laugh. The people we tend to loathe when going to a movie theater now. The bottom feeders. And the only thing worse than a bottom feeder is one that feeds them. And that’s what Mr. Murphy’s become. Harsh? Yes, but he needs a wakeup call.
Will he come back to us? With slight promises of a new stand up special, it tempts me to think that maybe, just maybe there’s hope still out there. But then going for a number IV sequel like most other stars of yesteryear with the much loved Brett Ratner (I keed, I keed, I hate him too), it proves to me that the almighty dollar never lies.
Eddie, we’ll always have your classics.
*Take that Denny Dillon!
**Well, Will Smith and divorce are the only sure things in Hollywood now.
***Sorry, fat joke.
****Kung Fu Panda, for those not paying attention.