Well, having sat in bed all day today, I've watched a few films, with two Eddie Murphy ones among them. So, I figured I'd put up something about my favourite Eddie Murphy films. In other words, the best ones. He's made some rubbish films, but also some classics!
1. 48 HRS
This was his first feature film role, and it's a gritty, extremely well made thriller with some cracking action sequences. Walter Hill is a fantatsic director when he's on form (Southern Comfort, Hard Times, The Long Riders, and so on), and Murphy (as Reggie Hammond) and Nick Nolte (as Jack Cates) are both excellent in this one.
Highlights: Eddie singing "Roxanne" in a jail cell; the motel shootout early on; and Eddie vs an entire redneck bar halfway through, pretending to be a policeman.
Cates: "We ain't brothers, we ain't partners and we ain't friends. I'm putting you down and keeping you down until Ganz is locked up or dead. And if he gets away you'll be sorry you ever met me."
Hammond: "I'm already sorry."
Hammond: (taking a wad of money from a redneck's pocket) "Where the fuck did you get this?"
Redneck: "Tax refund."
Hammond: "Bullshit. You're too stupid to have a job."
2. Trading Places.
Now I liked this film, but never REALLY loved it until recent years, when I watched it from an adult perspective.
Before, I laughed at the slapstick and swearing and had a crush on Jamie Lee Curtis, but watching it as an adult I finally picked up the socio-political commentary that permeates pretty much the whole film. From Eddie (Bully Ray)'s look to camera when the Duke brothers are explaining what makes a normal breakfast, to the realisation that it was all for a bet, it's a classic.
Dan Aykroyd as Louis Winthorpe is amazing, perfectly priggish and poncey. Some amazing insights into the rich and the poor divide, and class / social perceptions, even if it is played for laughs. And some of the sight gags and situational stuff is hilarious as well... James Belushi in a gorilla suit, the "no legs bum" sequence and so on.
Billy Ray: "I'm a karate man! And a karate man bruises on the inside! They don't show their weakness. But you don't know that because you're a big Barry White looking motherfucker! So get outta my face!"
Louis Winthorpe: (just having left jail) "Those men wanted to have SEX with me!"
3. Beverly Hills Cop.
The sequels are horrible, just HORRIBLE, but this was obviously such good fun to make that it translates to the screen. So many classic moments here...
the opening cigarette sting that goes wrong with the police / truck chase through Detroit; Mikey's death; Axel's rant that blags him a room in the Beverly Palms Hotel (see clip); getting "thrown out of a goddamn window" after bothering Victor Maitland; the fight at the Harrow club; the final shootout; Lisa Eilbacher looking FIIIIIIIIIIINE.... there's loads in this that makes it a classic.
Eddie improvised a great deal of his lines, as it was originally written for Sly Stallone (who went on to use the ideas they jettisoned for Cobra, the next year), and the script had next to no dialogue for Axel Foley. You can see other actors trying not to laugh when he goes off on one - the supercop speech for example, Taggart (John Ashton) is covering his face because he's trying not to laugh. And let's not forget Serge, with his espresso, with a "little lemon twist". You can see both of them trying to fight smiles as they play off each other.
Little trivia fact: when Axel goes into the police locker room, a fellow policeman asks him "Hey Axel, you got a cigarette?" That line was improvised by the extra. All Eddie could come up with was the retort "Did you write that one?"
Axel: "Disturbing the peace? I got thrown out of a window! What's the fuckin' charge for getting pushed out of a moving car, huh? Jaywalking?"
Axel: (to another black policeman) "(imitating him) You're not gonna fall for the banana in the tailpipe? It should be more natural, brother. It should flow out, like this - "Look, man, I ain't fallin' for no banana in my tailpipe!" See, that's more natural for us. You been hanging out with this dude too long."
4. Coming To America.
Now, not only was this film the basis for one of Snoop Dogg's best tracks of the last 10 years ("That's That Shit", with R Kelly), but it's hilarious.
The Soul Glo commercial is something that nearly everyone knows (and yes, I did go for that look once when my afro was particularly long, only for a couple of days though because I looked stupid), and the pisstake of McDonalds is spot on. (Having worked there, I can testify that people really DO get all ambitious about whether or not they get to work on lettuce or on the fries section. Scary.)
Predictable as far as stories go, but the double ups with Eddie and Arsenio playing multiple characters are funny (and Rick Baker's makeup is more convincing than a lot of today's awful fake disguises) and the McDonalds digs are great. And let's not forget the jeri curl pisstake (see the Soul Glow clip, above) or Randy Watson's band, "Sexual Chocolate".
Maurice the McDonalds worker: "Hey, I started out mopping the floor just like you guys. But now... now I'm washing lettuce. Soon I'll be on fries; then the grill. And pretty soon, I'll make assistant manager, and that's when the big bucks start rolling in."
King Jaffe: "I tied my own shoes once. It is an overrated experience."
Akeem: "Sir, did you happen to catch the professional football contest on television last night?"
Cleo McDowell: "No, I didn't."
Prince Akeem: "Oh sir, the Giants of New York took on the Packers of Green Bay. And in the end, the Giants triumphed by kicking an oblong ball made of pigskin through a big "H". It was a most ripping victory."
5. ....well, to be honest, I can't with hand on heart say that there IS another Eddie Murphy film that I like as much as those four, so I'll have to fall back on his second live standup film, Raw.
Now, for THIS reason (the clip above), with his SPOT ON impressions of Bill Cosby and the legendary Richard Pryor, it makes my list.
(perfectly impersonating Richard Pryor) "Tell Bill to have a coke and a smile and shut the fuck up."
Such a shame that the funniest thing to come out the Murphy family in the last ten years has been Charlie's "True Hollywood Stories" on the Chappelle Show. Ah well.