Eddie Murphy infuriates me. It hasn’t always been that way. Twenty years ago his movies put a broad grin on my face. I loved his silly giggle in Beverly Hills Cop, his version of Greatest Love of All in Coming to America, and the “My mother was like Clint Eastwood with a shoe…” routine from Delirious is one of the funniest monologues ever, but that was when Eddie and I were both much younger.
Now an Eddie Murphy movie is as welcome as a case of gingivitis. That makes me angry. He may be the biggest, most talented star in Hollywood who consistently makes the worst movies. Don’t get me wrong, nobody hits a home run every time, but Murphy’s recent batting average is worse than most.
He’s never been consistent, but in the old days for every stinker like Vampire in Brooklyn he’d make two others that were drop dead funny. Of late though, he’s been stuck in Vampire in Brooklyn mode, trying to suck laughs out of increasingly thin scripts.
Let’s look at the good, the bad and the ugly on Murphy’s filmography.
The good: In Dreamgirls Murphy gives the kind of performance that he’s only hinted at in other films. As R&B singer James (Thunder) Early — imagine 1966-era James Brown — he blows the doors off, digging deep and creating a memorable character who is as magnetic as he is repulsive.
The bad: Haunted Mansion. It’s a comedy! No! It’s a mystery! Nope, it’s a love story, a ghostly tale and an adventure story. It’s all of those things and less. Mostly it’s a big screen ad for a Disney theme park ride.
The ugly: With so many to choose from — Meet Dave, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, for example — it’s hard to decide but I’ll pick Norbit because it’s the movie that cost Eddie his Oscar. He was nominated for Dreamgirls but had the misfortune to have Norbit open in theatres the week Academy voters were casting their ballots. Any goodwill he accumulated with Dreamgirls evaporated when Oscar tastemakers got a load of him dressed as an aggressive 300 pound woman and the award went elsewhere.
The worst part is, I think he knows the movies stink. He recently told Extra “I have close to fifty movies and it’s like, why am I in the movies? I’ve done that part now.”
Why indeed Eddie, why indeed.