Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
February 27, 2022 10:05 AM - Subscribe

A freewheeling Detroit cop pursuing a murder investigation finds himself dealing with the very different culture of Beverly Hills.

Another (sometimes problematic) classic from the 1980s and the movie that really cemented Eddie Murphy's stardom for the ages. Famously, it was originally written as a vehicle for Sylvester Stallone, but retooled once Eddie Murphy was cast as Axel Foley.

83 % Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes

"Beverly Hills Cop" is a movie with an enormously appealing idea -- a tough black detective from Detroit goes to Beverly Hills to avenge the murder of a friend -- but the filmmakers apparently expected Murphy to carry this idea entirely by himself.
-- Roger Ebert

Although ''Beverly Hills Cop'' is less strictly a comedy than ''Trading Places'' was, it loses nothing by allowing Mr. Murphy a broader role; his brashness is as well suited to detective work as to sweet-talking his way out of trouble. He comes closer than ever to being able to carry a film single-handedly, although this one surrounds him with an excellent supporting cast. -- Janet Maslin

Poster's Note:
I was listening to the catchy theme music from this in my car the other day (as one does), and started thinking about this movie and what it was saying about the world in 1984. I recognize that Eddie Murphy's forays into homophobic humor have NOT aged well in the slightest, but it occurred to me that there's some pretty strong commentary on race in America going on under the surface. I lack the scholarly bona fides to do it any justice but I feel like this movie is ripe for revisiting in light of modern ideas of Critical Race Theory.

It presents two very distinct Americas: Detroit, which is gritty, dark, and falling apart, and Beverly Hills, which is sunny, rich, and very, very white. Notably, the corruption of the film's villain would never have come to light if not for the intervention of Murphy's flash-in-the-pan outsider. Murphy's astonishment at how clean and polite the police are in Beverly Hills is also notable. I did find a scholarly essay that seems to be sort of getting at what I'm thinking about here.
posted by wabbittwax (2 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I might have seen this once on video when I was 7 or 8 at a birthday party or something, and maybe parts on cable, but I can still vividly and viscerally recall the theme song - despite not remembering anything else about this movie.
posted by porpoise at 9:48 PM on February 28, 2022

"but the filmmakers apparently expected Murphy to carry this idea entirely by himself."

I mean, he did though.
Sure, the supporting cast was pretty good, John Ashton does an excellent job being frustrated with both Eddie Murphy and Judge Rheinhold, but let's be honest, you could have dropped in just about anyone in those roles and it would have been the same movie.

The whole thing lives or dies off of Eddie Murphy's charisma.
posted by madajb at 10:54 PM on February 28, 2022 [8 favorites]

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