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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

#1 - 1984 Box Office: Gross $234,760,478

He's been chased, thrown through a window, and arrested.
Eddie Murphy is a Detroit cop on vacation in Beverly Hills.
Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) is a Detroit detective who often plays by his own rules, which does not put him in good standing with his boss.  And so, after an old friend visits Axel and is killed right in front of him, Axel isn't allowed to investigate.  Knowing his friend had spent the past six months in California, Axel decides to go on a (semi-forced) vacation to see if he can determine why his friend was killed.  After a little sleuthing, he finds out local art dealer Victor Maitland (Steven Berkoff) isn't all he seems, but local police have their hands tied since cops go by the book in Beverly Hills.  Sgt. Taggart (John Ashton) & Det. Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) are assigned to watch Axel, who often gives them the slip and eventually convinces them, that while his methods are unorthodox, they get results.  The three work together in an attempt to get to the bottom of a conspiracy involving drugs and murder, all the while avoiding any Beverly Hills police who are still upset at Axel's techniques.

Trivia (mostly courtesy of the IMDb)
  • The film had a $15.2 million opening weekend, but thanks to good word-of-mouth, its largest weekend wasn't until its fourth, when it earned $20.1 million
  • This was the highest grossing R-rated film in the U.S. until The Matrix Reloaded came out in 2003
  • Spent 13 consecutive weeks at #1 in the box office (a record only beaten by Titanic which had 15)
  • Axel's boss, Inspector Todd, was played by then Detroit City Commissioner Gilbert R. Hill
  • The song which plays during the strip club scene, Vanity 6's "Nasty Girl," was recommended by the real-life stripper who was hired for the scene
  • When trying to find Foley and Rosewood, the Beverly Hills Police use a "satellite tracking system" (similar to modern-day GPS). Such a system did not exist at the time and was made up to advance the plot
  • Police Chief Hubbard walks into his first scene carrying some rolled-up sheets of paper—this is actually one of many reworked scripts, which was given to him to memorize and rehearse only minutes before the shooting of the scene started
  • The first film to be shown at over 2,000 theatres in the U.S.
Tell him that Ramon went to the clinic today, and I found out that I have, um, herpes simplex 10

This movie is quite funny and it's good to see Eddie Murphy in his prime (not sure why he went from R-rated classics like BHC and Trading Places to family fare like The Nutty Professor, Meet Dave and Daddy Day Care), but one thing that always bugged me was the ending.  The movie opens with a car-truck chase, but the whole time Axel is sort of just flailing around the back of the truck—it doesn't seem that serious.  The movie proceeds to be a pretty good comedy, but then the final act culminates in a huge action-movie shoot-em-up scene.  To me, this always felt a little out of place.  One thing I love about Murphy's '80s' films is that he took his unique characters and just inserted them into his main role (e.g. Ramon, pictured above, is just one "disguise" Axel uses) whereas lately, Murphy feels the need to put on a fat suit and play multiple characters which never seems to work (although I have never seen Coming to America, so maybe it can work).  The theme, Axel F, is just great as well—Heh heh heh-heh heh-heh heh heh, Heh heh heh-heh heh-heh heh, Heh heh heh heh-heh-heh, and then another Heh heh heh-heh heh. I don't think I've ever seen either of the sequels in full (2 featured a final act in an amusement park, no?) but I assume they only get worse like most other action sequels.  Am I right?

Ponch's Rating:


  1. You've never seen Coming to America? I'm shocked by that - since you've seen roughly 1,000 more movies than I have.

    "Good morning my neighbor!"

  2. I have a lot of holes in my older library... If it came out in 2007-2010, chances are pretty good I saw it since I saw probably 600-700 movies in those 4 years, but I didn't really become a cinephile until college...

  3. I'm going to have to disagree with your rating on this one. Just from the musical score and Murphy's performance alone, I would have to take this up to 4-stars. Well-thought-out script and some great comedic moments add another 1/2 star. The only thing preventing the full 5-star rating is, as you said, the change in demeanor between the beginning and end of the movie.

  4. I wouldn't say the script was that well-thought-out since it has such a dramatic turn in the final act... A well-thought-out script would have a similar tone throughout I think.

    Maybe I'm at a loss because I never saw this film until a few yeas ago and have been spoiled by all the other action-comedies that have replicated what was here in the early '80s...