(Check out the list so far)
The Movie: Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
One Sentence Plot Summary: Eddie Murphy becomes a star in an action comedy that became one of the biggest genres of the 1980s and 1990s.
Why It’s on the List: This is the only movie on the list that is essentially on here because of one person. Martin Brest is not the most impressive director and has been persona non-grata since 2003’s Gigli. Judge Reinhold and John Ashton are perfectly fine as a duo in this movie, but they also have not done a lot of other great work either. Ronny Cox is a great character actor, but no one is going to see a movie because of him. People are absolutely paying to see Eddie Murphy though, and this was likely his peak.
Axel Foley isn’t a great character, but he’s a great foil in this fish out of water. The racial politics are fascinating. We see Detroit during the opening credits and just how awful it looks. Then we go to Beverly Hills and how beautiful it is, but there are some rather complicated racial dynamics. I couldn’t help but compare Foley to Bugs Bunny in that he constantly disguises himself (and even uses produce to foil his enemies) and work himself through and around this case. The plot and villains are almost irrelevant to your enjoyment of this movie. Your enjoyment will be based on how entertaining you think Eddie Murphy is.
Murphy is such a singularly charismatic talent that it almost feels like he holds back in certain scenes just to not completely overwhelm them. His best moments come once he becomes friends with Rosewood and Taggert. That’s when this becomes more of a traditional buddy cop movie, and you can see how the writing generates different reactions to Foley. Some are bemused. Others are annoyed, yet almost all of them seem to be charmed by Murphy. That’s exactly how I felt watching Murphy. Even though the movie is far from perfect, Murphy is effortlessly great, and to not include him on this list would be disingenuous.
*Axel Foley and Jenny Summers are friends instead of potential romantic partners because racism.
*The racism is much more subtle than I remembered, but it’s interesting to watch with perspective and a greater understanding of police issues. Foley’s interactions with the Beverly Hills Police Department is quite interesting.
*Foley faking being gay with an STD is pretty gross.
MVP and Best Performance: Eddie Murphy. Duh.
Best Quote: “This is the cleanest and nicest police car I’ve ever been in in my life. This thing’s nicer than my apartment.” – Axel Foley
Is there a sequel? Yes, two of them actually.
How are they? The second one is good although it’s more action than comedy. The third one is terrible and really unfunny.
Follow Jerome on Twitter, and check out Reel Bad, The Superhero Pantheon and his new podcast Pantheon Plus, which recently covered this movie and its sequels!
Check out Ben & Matt’s podcast review of this film for There Will Be Movies.