Franchise Evolution: Beverly Hills Cop (part 3 of 3)
Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)
It grieves me to no end that of the three movies, the third one is only entry I’ve seen on the big screen. I generally enjoy John Landis as a director (Animal House, The Blues Brothers, and American Werewolf in London are great, and Spies Like Us is agreeably entertaining), but the man is really, really not the guy who should have been at the helm here. To a certain extent, it’s more a John Landis comedy that happens to be a Beverly Hills Cop film than a Beverly Hills Cop film directed by John Landis.
Given Landis’ track record, this is not even close to being a good thing.
The story is basically the same as the two films that preceded it, only this time, its good old Inspector Todd who gets shot during a bust that goes bad when the guys Axel is trying to bust are killed by Ellis DeWald (Timothy Carhart) and his goons before the cops can even get there.
Distraught, Foley’s investigation leads him, inevitably, back to Beverly Hills, where the only retuning character is Rosewood. Well, Bronson Pinchot also puts in a return appearance midway through, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Back to the story, Rosewood is the only returning main character, as it would seem Taggart has retired (for some reason, Foley knew nothing about this, in spite of how close the characters were in the second movie), and Bogomil is nowhere to be seen. I have to assume Ronny Cox and John Ashton looked at the script at some point and passed. And considering Ashton said yes to King Kong Lives… Damn!
Ashton is replaced by Hector Elizondo, playing Detective John Flint, who basically acts like Taggart, sort of looks like Taggart, and as much as I dig Elizondo as a performer, here he just makes you want to see the real Taggart.
Foley finds that DeWald is the security chief for Wonder World, a Disney-esque amusement park that also has personal favorite John Saxon on staff as the park manager. So you know he’ll turn out to be a bad guy too. Folks, when John Saxon isn’t enough to make me smile, that’s a real bad sign.
Murphy goes through the motions here, bringing none of the spark or edge he had in the other two movies. Word is that he was depressed at the time… and it shows. Foley does what he normally does, confronting the villain at a social gathering, being a wiseass, bonding with the one woman in the movie (this time, it’s Theresa Randle as a park employee), but it just has no energy to it whatsoever.
Judge Reinhold is… Well, he’s Judge Reinhold, which is either really good if you like the guy, or really bad if you consider him to be about as entertaining as a knee to the groin. I’m actually in the middle with him. He’s not overly terrible here, but he, like everyone else, just seems to not give even one tenth of a shit.
As for the bad guys, Timothy Carhart won’t go down as one of the great villains of the series. Hell, he’s not even the best villain in his own movie, and that’s only because John Saxon is a better actor!
DeWald is pretty much your standard bland, cardboard villain who has none of the charisma Steven Berkoff brought, or the oddly quiet menace Jurgen Prochnow put out. In any other movie, he’d be the third tier henchman who gets punched out by the good guy towards the end because he’s not even worth shooting.
He doesn’t even have a real good villainous plot, just some stupid counterfeiting ring. Ooh, very impressive.
Stephen McHattie is also on hand as a Secret Service agent who also turns out to be in with the bad guys in a twist that even Mr. Magoo would see coming a mile away, mainly because the actor just looks evil.
Must make going to the bank to deposit your check a bitch—tellers looking at you funny and everything, bank security giving you the eye. Poor bastard.
The film doesn’t really take advantage of the amusement park stuff, outside of an oddly out of place set piece where Foley rescues some kids from an out of control ride, after which he goes undercover in a mascot costume, and the finale, which to be fair, is perfectly acceptable.
Though, one should bear in mind that when it comes to action sequences, my standards are rather low, and by this point in the film I was begging for anything I could be complimentary towards. Eddie could have started making fart noises and blaming it on invisible animals and I probably would have been okay with it. This movie beats you down, I tell you.
It’s rather distressing that a 70 million dollar movie can be made with not a single person involved giving a shit.
Even the soundtrack could care less, as the kickass rock soundtracks of the previous two are replaced by generic crap, with a jazzed up version of “Axel F” turning up now and then. Hell, Harold Faltermeyer isn’t even on hand. Sure, synth-heavy soundtracks in the mid-’90s were about as in style as the pet rock, but screw it, at least his stuff sounds good!
The limp script and predictable plot could be excused if not for the fact that there’s very little in the way of actual humor in the film. Hell, the script for the first movie wasn’t that great. How it got an Oscar nomination is beyond me, as the majority of the funny stuff was improvised by Murphy, and while I haven’t read the script for part 2, I’d bet it’s not exactly Hamlet either.
Here are a few examples of “funny” moments from the movie:
In the first few minutes of the film, two of the guys Foley is looking to bust lip-sync to the Supremes song “Come See About Me”. And yeah, it’s just as funny as it sounds.
If two fat white guys singing Motown hits was funny, I’m pretty sure Jack Black and Kevin James would have done it in a movie by now… and the ensuing movie would have flopped like Ishtar.
In the ensuing chase after Todd is killed, Foley’s car gradually falls to pieces. So… evidently we learned nothing from Hal Needham then, hmm?
Rosewood has been promoted to DDO-JSIOC, or Deputy Director of Operations for Joint Systems Interdepartmental Operational Command. The gag is repeated a few times, and it just gets less and less funny. Yes, we’ve been reduced to fat guys singing and overly elaborate acronyms, folks.
Even George Carlin wouldn’t be able to make that funny, and his specialty was making jokes regarding words and language.
But the worst thing about the film (oddly depressing general tone aside) is the rather inexplicable appearance of Bronson Pinchot as Serge from the first movie. The first movie was his breakout role as some weird guy who worked at an art gallery. Here, he’s now some weird guy who designs elaborate personal security weapons for rich people. It’s maybe the most desperate bit of stunt casting I’ve seen in a while.
You know where Pinchot’s career was at this point? He was about to appear in a crappy mini-series based on a Stephen King novella. Sure, he was the best thing about The Langoliers, but that movie really, really sucked. Being the least smelly part of a turd is nothing to brag about. The only purpose he serves here is to provide Axel with the comically complicated weapon he uses at the end of the movie.
About the nicest thing I can say here is thank god it was him and not Gilbert Gottfried. Not sure I could take more of that asshole in a movie. Even the thought of his voice makes me cringe.
Oh, and if I can make a personal aside, this movie can also kiss my ass for taking one of the coolest parts of the old Universal Studios tour and making it suck.
Heh, heh… Old-school Cylons.
Ahem, anyway, yeah, the third movie pretty much stinks on ice. Bad script, listless acting and directing, just a complete waste of time and money.
And that’s the franchise. There were rumors flying around about a possible fourth movie, but that’ll probably never happen. I’ve also read that Murphy wants to do a Beverly Hills Cop TV series based around Axel’s son, an idea that also will probably never happen. Given how badly the third one turned out, I can’t say I’m sorry. It’s generally a bad sign when the return of Jerry Bruckheimer would signal a marked improvement to your franchise.
Two years after the third movie, Murphy would stage a major comeback with the very good Nutty Professor remake, and embark on an admittedly uneven phase in his career. He’s gone back down a bit as of late (if I were more of an ass I’d call it “pulling a Burt Reynolds”), but hopefully he can regain his momentum.