Franchise Evolution: Beverly Hills Cop (part 1 of 3)
The Beverly Hills Cop series is, in a way, a perfect way to chart the career of Eddie Murphy. From 1981 to 1988, Murphy was the undisputed funniest man in America. Anything and everything he touched turned to gold (with some exceptions), and really, the only true competition he ever had during this period was Bill Murray.
Granted, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, and some of the guys from SCTV did quality stuff during this period, but to be frank, most of them were at their best when they had someone to play off of. Eddie Murphy could fly solo and have them rolling in the aisles.
In 1984, fresh off the success of 48 Hrs. and Trading Places, and still the hot thing on SNL, he came out with maybe his finest cinematic achievement: Beverly Hills Cop.
Produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, it was a massive success, becoming the surprise hit of 1984, taking a grand total of just under $235 million domestically. Murphy would follow this up with the cheesily entertaining The Golden Child and, of course, the inevitable sequel.
Beverly Hills Cop II is more or less the same movie, only with the volume pumped up, and more of an emphasis on action. It’s actually not that bad, but it’s certainly a step down from the original, to an extent.
The sequel took in a little over $153 million in 1987, and outside of Coming to America the next year, this would be the last successful Murphy film (both financially and artistically) for quite a while.
In the middle of his box office drought, Murphy would re-team with John Landis, with whom he found great success in Trading Places and Coming to America, for the third installment in the series.
Taking in a little over $40 million, it’s one of the most disappointing films on his résumé. Seriously, it’s the sort of movie that will just depress the shit out of you if you happen to come across it at the wrong time. Norbit may be an unfunny mess, but to be frank, I sort of doubt anyone with a last name other than Murphy was giving that the thumbs up. Beverly Hills Cop III has no such excuse, but we’ll get to that later.
For now, let’s focus on the good stuff.