Eddie Murphy’s career has been the subject of a lot of satire. He hit the ground running with 48 Hours, reflecting the crass but brilliant stand-up style that helped build his fame. The Eighties would continue with a string of similar hits for him, yet the stand-out remains Beverly Hills Cop.
Since then Murphy has made an uneasy transformation into a family-friendly actor, again spawning a bunch of big hits like Daddy Day Care and The Nutty Professor before his star vehicles turned into massive box office slumps. Since then it has been hit and miss: breakthrough successes like Shrek and totally forgettable bombs such as Tower Heist.
Well, Murphy is still marketable, especially if you consider the Beverly Hills Cops films, and a fourth chapter to the series was announced several years ago with a release date set for 2016. But in a recent interview with Playboy, Murphy said that the movie won’t appear by then, citing the lack of a good script:
I don’t think it’s gonna happen in March, but it is gonna be in Detroit. And before it happens, they’ve got to get that script right. That movie has to be right. The third ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ was garbage. Those movies, when I travel overseas, people say [in a foreign accent] “Hey, Beverly Hills Cop! Axel Foley!” They call me that shit. All the movies I’ve done, and they call me that. If we do that movie, it has to be right. Not just thrown together to get a big check. I don’t need anymore of those.
Well, it’s good to know Murphy’s instincts haven’t left him entirely and it’s interesting how he regards the third film. Sylvester Stallone had a similar attitude when making the fourth Rambo, telling the cast to forget the third movie ever existed. The actor also speaks about the cancelled TV spin-off, which apparently piloted well but never saw the light of day. The reason appears to be that Murphy wasn’t going to be a recurring character. On the same note, Murphy distanced himself from the TV series because it felt more like exploiting the franchise than building on it:
I just remember seeing [the pilot] in the editing room. I remember this executive, when we were doing some promo stuff; he came in and said “Hey, can you do ‘the laugh’ [mimicks his own laugh] and then say ‘I’m back?’” I said, “That’s a horrible idea. They’ll think I’ve lost my mind! Eddie Murphy done gone crazy. He’s done that stupid laugh again and said he’s back.”
So in summary Murphy doesn’t need the money and he doesn’t want to cash in on Beverly Hills Cop‘s cachet just for a few extra bucks. It is hard to imagine any fan of the series disagreeing with that logic. It is also not the first time that Murphy has cast doubts over the fourth movie due to the lack of a good script. But I would take it further: Beverly Hills Cop, like Lethal Weapon and Die Hard, were projects of their time. Die Hard managed something of a transition in the fourth film, but that turned out to be a once-off bit of luck as the catastrophic fifth film demonstrated. Not even the Terminator movies have found a new path that is as strong as the original two movies.
Unfortunately studios love low-hanging fruit and generally don’t try to over-think these things. The reason why we are surrounded by so many bad remakes today is not because remakes are bad, but because remakes for the wrong reason is no different than a cover band in a karaoke bar convinced it is performing at a sold-out stadium. There’s more to a song than getting the chords right. Murphy seems to understand this or at least it’s a lesson he learned after some gloriously terrible forays into that world.
But let’s not forget that Murphy is also a star who has appeared in some fantastic films, such as Showtime, Coming To America and the criminally underrated Bowfinger. And of course Shrek, so it is nice to hear he is in a new upcoming animated feature called Bodacious, which is about a rodeo bull:
“His father is like the greatest rodeo bull in the history and like broke everybody’s face and neck. He’s the king of the rodeo and it’s a story about an over achieving dad who wants his son to be just like him, and [the son] who wants to do his own thing. It’s from the animal’s perspective…. I was watching the rodeo. I was like “This shit is crazy!” Bodacious was actually a real bull back in the ’80s. Bodacious was fucking people up! In the rodeo, if there’s a bull you can’t ride ‘em, it’s like a superstar bull. It’s the one sport where the animal gets to break a person apart. It’s like the animal’s revenge. If he breaks somebody into a thousand pieces, he gets to go out in the pasture, people get rich off him, they put him out to stud, and they get to breed him. I saw some of the preliminary drawings two weeks ago; it’s not going to be out for two, three years. I’m doing it with Paramount. It’s going to be really special.”
Cynics might say he’s just trading a donkey for a bull. I say: this is the kind of thing that shows why Murphy is one of the most talented people of his generation.
Last Updated: February 17, 2015