As a movie-lover, it's tough to put my finger on my favorite films. Such a list would change from day to day depending on my mood or what I find entertaining at the moment. Sure, some movies will always be near the top (there's no way that Field of Dreams is ever going to drop off my favorites) but I don't think I would even attempt a definitive list for the ages.
That being said, there are many films that I love watching over and over that would not rank highly on such a list if I were to make one.
Like Eddie Murphy movies.
I simply cannot pass them up when I see them pop up on my television. And when I'm looking for a movie to run while I work, Eddie's films comes up far more often than others...
Despite being enormously talented and having this uncanny ability to make mediocre movies into something fantastic, it's not like Eddie is perfect, however. I mean, films like Meet Dave, Pluto Nash, and Holy Man seem to suggest he's not exactly worried about missteps.
Last night Eddie Murphy movies came up in conversation and we were all trying to decide on our favorites. This is pretty much what I came up with...
- Beverly Hills Cop If there's one movie that defines the absolute core of what Eddie Murphy can accomplish on-screen, it's this. From a really good script to some hilarious improvisation, all that I love about Eddie Murphy is right here.
- Coming to America This movie so deftly drifted between hilarious moments and genuinely touching romance that I think it gave Hollywood pause as to what Eddie Murphy was capable of. I've seen this movie so many times that I can practically recite it from memory.
- Trading Places I debated putting this film in the top spot, because it was the first time I truly "got" how huge a movie star Eddie was going to be. All the performances were spot-on here (the casting was flawless), but this was Eddie's film from start to finish.
- Harlem Nights I don't understand the critical disdain for this film. I absolutely loved it. Some of the best funny moments in Eddie's career. And not only did it drop in some amazing A-list talent (Redd Foxx? Richard Pryor? Della Reese?), but it was absolutely beautiful to look at. The sets... the wardrobe... the styling... all so beautifully done. And Murphy directed it as well? Too much greatness for people to handle, I guess.
- Beverly Hills Cop II Did it match the first one? No. Did it completely live up to my expectations? Absolutely. The whole "Alphabet Killer" thing was a weak plot element (how could you be labeled the Alphabet Killer after one crime?), but it was otherwise a good story with some genuinely funny moments.
- The Distinguished Gentleman This movie is so overlooked and I don't understand why. In many ways I think it's a smarter film than others ranking higher on this list, and have always felt that the story was perfect for the day (and painfully relevant even now). The thing that keeps me watching it over and over is how beautifully all the pieces fit together. Everything is scripted to keep moving the story along as bit after bit clicks perfectly into place. No, the characters aren't fleshed out to any depth, but they don't have to be. Everybody is designed to contribute to making things funny and keep Eddie at the top of his game. And with this movie he definitely is.
- The Golden Child This was not a great film. And it felt as though Eddie was phoning it in the entire time. Some of his delivery was just plain awful, and so much less than he was capable of. It's like he insisted that he only have to perform one take per scene because nothing felt as polished as his other movies. And yet... even when he's phoning it in, Murphy is still funnier than most people on the planet combined, and the film worked on that basis alone. It was non-stop Eddie doing exactly what makes him so hilarious to watch.
- 48 Hours It's hard to ignore the film that started his big screen career, though I don't think it holds up as well as his other works. Still, this is a great film and a terrific debut.
- Boomerang Okay... I'm going to admit that Eartha Kitt, Grace Jones, and Halle Berry went a long, long ways towards me liking this film as much as I did, but they didn't overshadow Murphy's performance. He was just so on-the-money scene after scene as the story kept building to its inevitable conclusion.
- Bowfinger I couldn't decide between Bowfinger, Dr. Doolittle, and Life for my last film because I like them equally. But Bowfinger had these genuinely wacky moments that could have only come from Eddie Murphy. And it was great to see him matched with a talent like Steve Martin who could so easily hold his own on screen.
This list doesn't include his standup.
Oh man I hope he does at least one more standup movie before he retires.