Remember when Eddie Murphy made great comedies? If you do, you’re lucky. This movie is as old as I am, so to me Murphy is at best a voice actor in animated films (Mulan, Shrek), and at worst the star of some really substandard farces (Daddy Day Care, Norbit, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Meet Dave… shall I go on?). Luckily I have parents who encouraged the viewing of Saturday Night Live reruns and let me watch Coming to America when I was 12, so I know Murphy used to be funny. It’s just a shame that he can’t seem to find a good movie to prove that he still is.
This was my first viewing of Beverly Hills Cop, and I loved it. It’s so 80s, but only in regards to its music, fashion, and technology. The humor is timeless, and the action is fun. It’s clear that many cop action-comedies owe a lot to BHC; you can see similarities to this film in movies like Bad Boys, Lethal Weapon, and 21 Jump Street.
The main difference is that Murphy’s character Axel Foley doesn’t need a partner. He’s a streetwise Detroit cop who uses his charm, instincts, and talent for bull shitting others to solve the crime. Murphy/Foley is a one man show, but he also lets the supporting cast shine. Two standouts are the by-the-books Beverly Hills detectives played by Judge Reinhold and John Ashton. While most of the stand out lines are Murphy’s, these two have some hilarious exchanges that help make the movie.
I’m sure Hollywood is chomping at the bit to sign Eddie Murphy on to a fourth movie. It could honestly be good if the studio kept it R-rated. My fear would be that they’d try to tame the master, and aim for a teen friendly PG-13 rating. What makes Beverly Hills Cop so good is that Murphy was given free reign to improvise. And Eddie Murphy at his best is R-rated (NC-17, even). This isn’t a bad thing. Some stuff should be strictly for adults. Maybe it’s time to remember this and stop watering down every comedy on the off chance that some idiot parents might ignore the rating.
Before I even start this review, I have to talk about the soundtrack. It is fantastic. Aside from the iconic theme music, “Axel F” by Harold Faltermeyer, the music in this film also contains some great 80s pop songs. When music like the “Neutron Dance” and “The Heat Is On” come blaring during the movie, it’s really hard not to start bopping along to these catchy tunes.
The film itself is really good too. Watching Eddie Murphy it’s really obvious that many black comedians of the 90s have based their act around Murphy’s performances. I can see a lot of guys like Chris Rock and Chris Tucker in this film, they’ve clearly been influenced by Murphy to a degree.
Murphy plays Detroit police officer Axel Foley, whose best friend is murdered by thugs in Beverly Hills. He goes there to investigate the murder, encountering crooked art dealers and a police force that plays by the rules and doesn’t like Foley coming on to their turf. The plot is thin, it’s really just an excuse to get Eddie Murphy’s rule breaking Detroit cop to Beverly Hills and getting him to interact with the stuffy play by the rules characters there. Murphy is great in the role. He’s charming and has great chemistry with Judge Reinhold, a Beverly Hills police officer who he befriends.
This is a classic 80s comedy. It was the film that put Murphy on the map. It is one of his better movies, it spawned two mediocre sequels and there is always talk of a fourth film in this series. The film is hilarious and has a brilliant 80s soundtrack. It well worth checking out, especially if you’re a fan of Eddie Murphy or 80s comedies.