Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Beverly Hills Cop

The Action Mutant…

Beverly Hills Cop

review by Joe Burrows

Now, if you were a movie star by age 20, would you accept a script that has been re-written beyond recognition from the original vision? When the script for Beverly Hills Cop had finally reached Eddie Murphy (only TWO WEEKS before filming began), it was far from the original intention of it being a Sylvester Stallone vehicle. Then again, everyone seemed to win out in the end. Stallone took some of the original script ideas and developed it into the infamous Cobra. And BHC only took in close to $230 million in gross. Ok, so maybe only some people won out in the end.

The Plot, as it was:
Murphy plays Axel Foley (sounds suspiciously like “asshole” if you aren’t paying attention), a cocky, motor-mouthed Detroit cop that constantly takes risks and grinds on his co-workers. An old friend of his named Mikey (James Russo) shows up unexpectedly and the two have a night on the town. Later on, they get ambushed by some hitmen and Mikey ends up shot dead. Axel decides to take a vacation and go to Beverly Hills, where Mikey worked last for a high powered art dealer named Victor Maitland (Steven Berkoff). Axel soon finds out that Maitland deals with more than just art, as he finds drugs and illegal bearer bonds like Mikey had on him when he died. However, Foley is continually tailed by Taggart (John Ashton) and Rosewood (Judge Reinhold), two BH cops that do everything “by the book”. Foley tries to solve the case his way, all while dealing with the culture shock of the West Coast, the two cops and their supervisor, Lt. Bogomil (Ronny Cox).

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
If 48 Hrs. was the film that broke Eddie Murphy onto the worldwide film scene, Beverly Hills Cop was the one that assured he would stay there. It’s just wall-to-wall entertainment from moment one, incorporating a memorable soundtrack (Axel F, baby!), hilarious lines and a great cast. Sure, we get the tired “drug” plotline, the eternally pissed off chief (real life Detroit detective Gilbert R. Hill), a wholly improbable story and wholly broad stereotypes (Bronson Pinchot as the gay art dealer Serge). But Murphy is so energetic and manic as Foley; the most worn of situations becomes instantly fresh. In fact, Murphy ad-libbed most of his dialogue, which just shows how good he is when he’s totally on his game. His interaction with the supporting cast is memorable, as this has to be one of the most quotable films in cinema history. Everything just melds together so well that it’s almost impossible to not like it. Ashton & Reinhold make for a classic team and Berkoff is creepy and menacing as the heavy (unlike his performance in Steal). Just one word of warning: Don’t watch something like The Adventures of Pluto Nash or Dr. Dolittle after watching this film…it will just make you sad.

Character/Supporting Actor Sighting!:
- Damon Wayans (In Living Color) is the “Banana Man”.
- Note: I swear to God that Robert Pastorelli (Striking Distance, Eraser) is Serge’s assistant that has his shirt unbuttoned. I’m probably way off but it’s not listed in his filmography but it looks so damn much like him and the actor’s name isn’t listed anywhere.

Body Count/Violence: 7. Despite it being termed as an “Action Comedy”, there’s only intermittent violence (brief shooting, window shattering, etc.) until the last 20 minutes. That’s when the climactic gun battle takes place (at the same mansion featured in Commando!), which is fun but not particularly bloody. Only one shooting has a good amount of blood, as the rest of the sequence manages to keep the good nature the film built up to that point.

Sexuality/Nudity: A stripper shows her goodies at a strip club. I have no doubt Don Simpson snorted coke off her chest the second casting was done.

Language/Dialogue: It’s Eddie, so his monologues are blanketed with the requisite profanity. His exchange with Pinchot is classic, though.

How bad was it?:
Critics and fans loved this film, as Eddie could do no wrong at this point. Except for Best Defense.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
BHC was an insanely huge hit for Paramount Pictures, which debuted it on 12/5/84. It opened at #1, with $15.2 million (already clearing its $14 million budget), nearly doubling the take of the #2 2010. It spent an amazing 14 weeks at #1 ALONE and was the first film to be shown in 2,000+ theaters! It managed to fall out of the Top 10 finally on 6/16/85, a run that lasted just a notch over 7 months! It would finish its run with a total gross of $234.8 million and is 3rd behind Titanic and E.T. The Extra Terrestrial for most consecutive weekends at #1! Add to that a worldwide gross of $81.6 million, for a total of $316.4 million and you have some happy Paramount motherfuckers! Get the fuck outta here! No, I’m serious! Don’t be stupid!

Film: ***1/2/*****
Entertainment value: *****/*****

Copyright 2007 The Action Mutant.

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