We asked some of your favorite Cracked writers to pick their favorite Eddie Murphy movie, and defend their picks in a sudden-death, no-holds-barred cage match of thoughtful, comedy enthusiasm. Below, they go toe to toe and duke it out ... OK, there's nothing violent going on here. Just comedy writers talking about a funny guy's funny movies. It's just more exciting when you describe it as a fight.
In no particular order ...
#8. Beverly Hills Cop -- Gladstone
The story goes that Beverly Hills Cop was originally going to be a Sylvester Stallone vehicle. You can kind of see that, right? A tough Detroit cop must solve a case in ... BEVERLY HILLS! It's the kind of high-concept comedy that writes itself, but the thing is, typically it writes itself into something that sucks. A movie with lots of shots of Axel looking out of place in fancy hotels and galleries and country clubs. And those scenes are all still there, but when you remember the movie, it's not the premise that sticks with you; it's the performances.
Particularly that of child prodigy Judge Reinhold.
Case in point? The scene where Eddie checks into the hotel where he has no reservation by pretending to be a Rolling Stone reporter. That is unadulterated Murphy schtick in its purest form. But the performance is not all histrionics and gesticulations. The funniest part comes when Eddie connives his way into a room, but is still stuck with a $235-a-night rate (and that's in 1984) that he can't afford. The silent scream in his eyes is funnier than any further haggling could have been. It's so effective that I remember worrying how he'd afford the room the whole movie and feeling a sigh of relief when the police department picks up the tab for him at the end of the film.
Even Eddie Murphy's expressions count as plot points.
And look how well Eddie plays with others in this movie. Despite all the heavy lifting he does to inject humor, such as telling the chief that Taggart and Rosewood are "super-cops" or pretending to be bad guy Victor Maitland's STD-infected lover, he stands back to let other comedic gems shine. Bronson Pinchot has the role of his life doing his nondescript Eurotrash accent as Serge in the gallery, and Damon Wayans somehow makes selling bananas memorable. Everyone is funny in this movie. Paul Reiser as Jeffrey, John Ashton as Taggart and Judge Reinhold as Rosewood. All funny. Eddie has never been better as both a brute comic force and the straight man for others in one role.
#7. Coming to America -- Adam Tod Brown
SEXUAL Chocolate! Those two words are an expressway to victory for anyone who enters into a debate concerning the greatest Eddie Murphy movie of all time. Did Randy Watson and his band of soul show up in, say, The Golden Child or Delirious? Nope. Those fictional funk masters, fronted by a top-of-his-game Eddie Murphy, only surface in the universally beloved comedy juggernaut that is Coming to America, and it's the funniest bit in a movie that's made of approximately 103 percent funny.
It tells the story of a spoiled African prince hoping to find true love in America. As the African prince who heads to New York City in search of a wife whom he can respect for her intelligence and lack of gold-digging prowess, Murphy's performance was the Michael Jordan that turned his sidekick into a comedy Scottie Pippen. Remember Arsenio Hall? Sure you do. Now go watch Coming to America and you'll remember why (with all due respect to that talk show of his).
You see, they're not from around here.
Eddie Murphy brought out the best in everyone in that cast. We're talking James Earl Jones as Murphy's overbearing father and Good Times dad John Amos as Cleo McDowell in performances that can only be described as dy-no-mite!! -- provided you literally have no other way to describe them.
Sure, Coming to America has its share of spandex fashion and Jheri curl jokes, but even 30 years later, this quintessential '80s movie stands the test of time.
#6. The Golden Child -- Robert Brockway
The Golden Child was the first movie I ever saw where the star clearly did not give a f#@%. In fact, I think Eddie Murphy may have actually invented the concept of not giving a f#@% just for the film. And it was wonderful!
"Which one of these am I in right now?"
The whole inspiration for Eddie Murphy's character in The Golden Child was to laugh in the faces of the Hollywood executives who wanted to put Eddie Murphy in a supernatural crime-thriller. He spent the entire runtime of that movie giggling and screwing with everything, from the set pieces (I *wicky-wicky-wicky* I waaant the kniiiife) to his fellow actors (you look in Tywin Lannister's eyes in the scenes he shares with Eddie, and you tell me that frustration is feigned).
"Cut! Dial it back, Ty. It looks like you're literally trying to murder him with your eyes. Ty?"
At the height of coked-up 1980s movie studio insanity, a producer came along and said "We'd like you to be in our movie, Eddie; you're gonna fight the devil!" Any comics taking themselves too seriously would have said "Ha! That's dumb. I won't do it!" But not Eddie Murphy; he said "Ha! That's dumb. I'll absolutely do it!" And then he proceeded to have what looks like the most fun I've ever seen on a Hollywood set, transforming an otherwise unremarkable little action flick into a completely charming, unforgettable character comedy.
#5. Trading Places -- Luke McKinney
Trading Places satisfies one of the conditions for the best Eddie Murphy comedies: playing a character who's a fish out of water.
But while his other roles had hidden assets like "secret African fortune" or "the ability to use a gun near white police officers without getting shot," here Murphy pure fast-talks his way into millions of dollars. That's not just his character; that's his real career, too. In one scene, he masters the complexities of futures trading by doing stand-up at it.
We understood "Sell, sell, sell!"
His perfect foil is Dan Aykroyd, also playing his quintessential role: socially maladjusted white guy who's partly insane. My favorite scene is Aykroyd, newly restored to wealth, calmly polishing a brace of shotguns to blow the kneecaps off the evil Duke brothers, while Murphy matter-of-factly explains why you can't do that. The spoiled rich kid and street-smart conman capture their entire characters in one line each. This isn't just a movie; it's a time capsule of two brilliant comedians.
Take special note of the pre-Dragnet Aykroyd.
Two more reasons this is my favorite Murphy movie: 1) Jamie Lee Curtis' breasts (which isn't very intelligent, but I wasn't very intelligent when I first saw them) and 2) the movie's Fight Club-level audience mindjob, drawing you into the con of the plot. We all love Eddie so much that we think he's a good guy. He commits absolutely massive securities fraud. Sure, he does it by stealing the crop report already stolen by the evil Duke brothers, but we don't think "They started it!" is a legal defense for market manipulation. They devastate an entire area of investment, bankrupting countless anonymous stockholders, and sentence a man to lifetime rape-by-gorilla, and you still love them. Because Eddie Murphy is just that good at talking.