Thursday, March 12, 2009

MOVIES: #20 Beverly Hills Cop I

Eddie Murphy used to be funny. Really funny. Really, no joking, really funny. Yeah, I know it's hard to believe, but it's true. Just check out his breakout role in 1984's Beverly Hills Cop, the one that begat the franchise.

Sure, Murphy had been a Saturday Night Live star and a good supporting character in Trading Places and 48 Hrs. But this was HIS movie, his turn in the spotlight. And we soon grew to really like Detective Axel Foley from Detroit, now causing mayhem in L.A. Daniel Petrie Jr.'s screenplay and Martin Brest directing, Murphy doing what he was told and saying what was written. What a beautiful mix. Not once did Murphy don a fat suit or get into a dress. This was virginal funny Murphy. A treasure.

From the time we first heard Murphy's signature chuckle and see his grin, to the closing credits over the pounding Harold Faltermeyer score, this was a memorable experience. Hit songs from this movie included work from the Pointer Sisters, Patti LaBelle, Glenn Frey, Danny Elfman (a future hit composer himself) and Faltermeyer, who put Axel F on the charts. Think back to this year's Oscar songs and wonder about the state of American music.

Foley's unwitting accomplices in doing his thing in L.A. were Judge Reinhold and John Ashton, both of whom I find funny. Ronny Cox played the pain in the butt Lieutenant interfering with Foley's free reign on the left coast. And Lisa Eilbacher, who we don't see often enough (or at all for more than a decade), was around to add the women's touch to an otherwise all boy's night out.

The stunts were inventive, the jokes were funny and Murphy was at the peak of his career. Check it out.

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