Eddie Murphy’s rise from street urchin to mega-millionaire was swift, and it wasn’t long before they were writing specially tailored vehicles for him, the way they used to order up scripts for Gable, Bogart, and the Marx Brothers.
Beverly Hills Cop is a custom-made comedy from the Eddie Murphy fitting room, although – bizarrely – Sylvester Stallone was originally attached to the project. What a different movie that would have been!
Stallone left the project and used some of his script ideas to make Cobra).
Chock-full of noise, rhythm, and smart-ass dialogue, Beverly Hills Cop fits the cool, fresh-mouthed, jive-ass hipness of Murphy’s screen persona like a glove.
The movie begins with a series of car crunches as the finger-popping comedian busts a slimy gang of cigarette hijackers in Detroit and ends with another blast of gunfire and violence (much of it tongue-in-cheek instead of the usual bloody gore) as he outwits a slimy gang of drug smugglers in posh Beverly Hills. The property damage in between is inestimable.
Murphy plays Axel Foley of the Detroit Police Department. Always in hot water, he just can’t play by the rules. When an old childhood pal is murdered, he ignores the warning by his own superiors to stay out of the case and heads for Beverly Hills to find the killers.
In jeans and sneakers, he checks into the swankiest hotel by posing as a Rolling Stone reporter who’s doing a piece on Michael Jackson, and sets about making the Beverly Hills cops, with their three-piece Johnny Carson suits and their charge accounts at Spago, look like snide, ageing preppy jokes.
Square, conservative, and clean-cut, they are outsmarted every time by the Detroit punk with the Saturday Night Live charisma.
Much of the humour in Beverly Hills Cop is distilled from Axel’s head-on collision with the sterile state-of-the-art mentality of the Beverly Hills Police Force and the unreal foreign planet ozone layer of La-La Land culture in general.
Finding the killers and exposing a cocaine racket inside the California art world becomes secondary to the humorous clash between Murphy and everything that personifies Hollywood’s favourite word . . . ‘trendy’.
Along the way, an oddball friendship develops between the Detroit skull-buster and two Beverly Hills detectives, as Axel teaches the suit-wearing conservatives a few things.
The overweight, square detective and the young, naive, refined detective are played with restraint and humour by John Ashton and Judge Reinhold, respectively.
Lisa Eilbacher lends stylish support as another of Axel’s childhood friends who bails him out of jail and offers him a snazzy red sports car to drive and a pretty shoulder to lean on.
Every third word begins with F, but Murphy’s wild and daring personality has a winning nature. Two equally funny sequels followed in 1987 and 1994.
Detective Billy Rosewood
Gilbert R Hill