In Retrospect – Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

The following is a Bite Sized Review I’ve written for Tom at Digital Shortbread. There can’t be many of you who hasn’t checked out what is one of the very best sites out there for movie reviews of all shapes and sizes. Tom’s site has come on leaps and bounds and I’m honoured to have been asked to contribute. Hope you enjoy this appreciation of the 80’s action comedy classic Beverly Hills Cop, which this year celebrates its 30th anniversary.

It may seem difficult to believe to anyone under the age of 30, but once upon a time Eddie Murphy was the biggest movie star on the planet. Murphy may have torched his reputation with the likes of Norbit and Meet Dave, but during the 1980s he was seriously hot shit and none more so than in Beverly Hills Cop.

Beverly Hills Cop - the 80s at its near-best

Beverly Hills Cop – the 80s at its near-best

In one of those ‘what if?’ parallel universes that Hollywood seems to excel at (think Frank Sinatra being first choice for Dirty Harry), the project was originally due to star Mickey Rourke (that would have been… interesting) and then Sylvester Stallone, who pulled out two weeks before shooting was due to start. Murphy was drafted in at the 11th hour by legendary producing duo Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer for his first leading role and the rest, as they say, is history.

It’s impossible to imagine anyone else playing the part of wise cracking maverick Detroit detective Axel Foley, who heads west to the freak show that is Beverly Hills against the instructions of his hard-ass boss (played by Gil Hill) to investigate the death of his friend. His snooping not only rubs up against oily art dealer Victor Maitland (Steven Berkoff) but also the Beverly Hills Police Department, specifically grizzled cop Taggart (John Ashton), his wide-eyed partner Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and Lieutenant Bogomil (Ronny Cox).

Eddie Murphy at the top of his game in Beverly Hills Cop

Eddie Murphy at the top of his game in Beverly Hills Cop

The alchemy that Murphy and director Martin Brest conjure up out of a well-worn fish-out-of-water premise is just as irresistible 30 years on. Murphy simply owns the film and it’s testament to his chops as a performer that the movie can get away with switching from broad comedy to drama in the blink of an eye. Murphy’s trademark laugh is in full effect, as is his ability to maintain a straight face while spinning a line to whatever lackey stands in his way.

Beverly Hills Cop was among the first movies in which the soundtrack was as popular as the film itself and anyone who appreciates uplifting 80s music (and who doesn’t?) will be hard pressed not to smile when The Heat Is On kicks in. Let’s also not forget the talismanic Harold Faltermeyer’s synth-tastic score that helps glue the movie together.

Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) gets under the skin of Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and Taggart (John Ashton) in Beverly Hills Cop

Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) gets under the skin of Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and Taggart (John Ashton) in Beverly Hills Cop

This isn’t just Murphy’s film, of course. Reinhold gives a warm performance as the naive Rosewood that perfectly complements Ashton’s grumbling turn as Taggart, while Bronson Pinchot is great as extravagant art gallery employee Serge. Also, keep an eye out for Damon Wayans in his debut role as a camp hotel employee.

On the negative side, the film has one of the worst stunt doubles ever. Check out 1h 4m in when Foley throws Maitland’s stony-faced goon (played by Breaking Bad‘s Jonathan Banks) over a buffet table; it’s almost laughable.

Finally folks, I’ve always been left wondering whether a banana in the tailpipe would actually stop a car from driving properly. If anybody can put me out of my misery on that one I’d be grateful.

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20 comments

  1. Ben · July 31, 2014

    I watched this recently and was actually disappointed! I remember it being funnier. Think I prefer the sequel.

    • Three Rows Back · July 31, 2014

      Really? Oh, ok. Haven’t seen the sequel for years so couldn’t compare. It may be nostalgia but I do really enjoy it.

  2. mikeyb @ screenkicker · July 31, 2014

    Its a classic, i actually like the sequel too!

    • Three Rows Back · July 31, 2014

      It’s been ages since I’ve seen it so couldn’t say. I remember it had Bridget Nielsen in and that’s about it!

      • mikeyb @ screenkicker · July 31, 2014

        Its been years since i saw it. The story is ridiculous and yes Bridget Nielsen is memorable in it!

    • MovieManJackson · August 1, 2014

      Oh man, I love the original but think the sequel is a hot mess!

  3. Last Road Reviews · August 1, 2014

    I’d agree with Ben’s comment to some degree. Not as funny as I remembered, but I’d still give it a solid 4 of 5

    • Three Rows Back · August 1, 2014

      Well, 4 out of 5’s pretty good. Mr Foley would take that.

  4. Tom · August 1, 2014

    An excellent review Mr. Fletcher. I finally got the chance to pop it in this week. It’s funny as fuck. Of course, what else could I have expected from an Eddie Murphy running around in his prime? You’ve done this one justice, I reckon.

    • Tom · August 1, 2014

      Also, can’t believe I forgot to include this in the previous comment but — THANK YOU for contributing! It was truly a pleasure having you and I look forward to future collaborations 😀

      • Three Rows Back · August 1, 2014

        No worries mate. It was a real pleasure; thanks for asking me. Would love to do it again sometime. Very pleased you liked the movie by the way!

  5. movierob · August 1, 2014

    first one is definitely the best. heard a rumor that Murphy wants to make a 4th and then retire from acting.

    • Three Rows Back · August 1, 2014

      I’d heard that too. It’s kind of fitting that the franchise that properly launched his career should finish it.

  6. ruth · August 3, 2014

    This was Eddie on his prime, he’s such a hoot to watch here, definitely one of the most entertaining buddy cop comedies. There are a lot more movies in this sub-genre, but this one remains very memorable to this day!

    • Three Rows Back · August 4, 2014

      This and Lethal Weapon are the real standouts for me. Murphy has never been better than he is here. Cheers Ruth!

  7. ckckred · August 4, 2014

    Back when the time when Eddie Murphy was associated with kiddie comedy. A very funny cop parody, though I’m almost certain the upcoming movie is going to be a disaster. Nice review.

    • ckckred · August 4, 2014

      Sorry, I meant wasn’t associated with kiddie comedy above.

  8. Pingback: In Retrospect – Cobra (1986) | three rows back

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