Over the past few weeks you may have noticed the Eddie Murphy season on Film4. I pick five of Eddie Murphy’s greatest films.
Nutty Professor – Good fun for the entire family features Murphy as a bumbling professor.
Dreamgirls – A more serious film that showed Murphy in a different light and exhibited his ability as a serious actor.
Beverly Hills Cop II – It didn’t have the same impact as the original nor was it as good but as an action film the pacing was fast and Murphy was just as fast with one liners as he was with the trigger.
After a difficult period for Murphy, aside from Nutty Professor he was going through a sticky patch, with several of his films panned including the sequel to Beverly Hills Cop II. Murphy really found his calling as the Donkey. Not in the sense of a box office donkey but the character in Shrek. The animation was loved by adults and kids alike and signalled a revival of Eddie Murphy. Voice acting gave him a real lease of life.
4) Coming to America
Possibly Murphy’s last great film before his slump, he teams up with John Landis once again (he worked with Landis on Trading Places and would later go onto work on Beverly Hills Cop 3). In Coming to America he got a chance to exhibit his ability to play several characters at once. The sequences in the barbershop are pure comedy gold and several of the characters are portrayed by, yes you guessed it Murphy. Murphy primarily plays the prince of Zamunda in search of a bride in Queens, New York. Arsenio Hall plays his loyal servant with a penchant for the high life and the laughs keep coming as the out of place prince searches for true love.
3) 48 Hours
A fresh faced Eddie Murphy burst on to the scene as the foul mouthed con Reggie Hammond. Paired with Nick Nolte, Murphy laid down the foundation for the mismatched black cop, white cop genre. Murphy displays great timing and chemistry with Nolte. 48 Hours would spawn a sequel “Another 48 Hours” which saw Murphy and Nolte reprise their roles once again.
2) Trading Places
The first we see of Eddie Murphy in Trading Places is him moonlighting as a blind army vet who had lost both his legs in conflict. But when the police pull him up to reveal that Billy Ray Valentine still does indeed have both his wheels, Murphy invokes his comedic genius, proclaiming that he had been healed. Murphy’s character trades places with Dan Aykroyd’s Louis Winthorpe thanks to a bet amongst the owners of Duke & Duke. Hilarity ensues as Valentine adjusts to the high life whilst Winthorpe finds himself on the street.
1) Beverly Hills Cop
This has to be Eddie Murphy’s finest moment. It would go onto spawn two sequels, but the original still remains etched in the minds of fans and critics alike. Murphy as the fresh faced, cheeky young, foul mouthed, detective Axel Foley from Detroit finds himself in California investigating the murder of a friend. Murphy is foul mouthed but despite this there is a sense of innocence to his character.
The rapport between him Judge Reinhold and John Ashton is superb and some of the best scenes are Murphy improvising off the cuff. Ashton and Reinhold did a great job of keeping up with Murphy on this one as he was on fire. His exchanges with Bronson Pinchot’s character Serge are pure comic genius.