Anthony's Film Review
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Beverly Hills Cop features a solid performance by funnyman Eddie Murphy...
Most big-name Hollywood actors have one movie that presents them in a major breakthrough role, catapulting their careers and launching them into stardom. For actor and comedian Eddie Murphy, the 1984 action comedy film Beverly Hills Cop fits that bill. While it isn't his cinematic debut, it is the first movie to put him in a starring role. The decision to give him top billing was definitely a wise one. This is a man whose talents in acting and comedy are put to good use, with positive results.
Eddie Murphy is already a pretty funny guy the moment he appears on screen. In the movie's opening scene, he is selling drugs to a man looking to buy some. Murphy is funny simply because he is a real motor mouth. When he expresses dissatisfaction about not getting enough cash for the drug, he means it. Not surprisingly, the cops arrive, although a destructive car chase ensues. Thankfully, Murphy's character is actually on the side of good. He is Detective Axel Foley of the Detroit Police Department, acting as an undercover drug dealer.
That's not to say that Foley respects the rules 100% of the time. In fact, that drug sting operation was an unauthorized effort. Foley is indeed a guy who might come across as a cop walking the fine line between law and crime. As noted by Inspector Todd, his boss at the department, Foley is a good detective but has a rather loose attitude. Still, Foley is no hardened criminal. If there is one person who is closer to the criminal life, it's Foley's friend Mikey, who, one night, comes all the way from Beverly Hills, CA, to visit Foley in his apartment and shows him a bundle of stolen German bond notes. Foley wishes he hadn't seen the bonds in the first place, but brushes it aside.
Unfortunately, Foley can't truly escape that fact. Pretty soon, Foley and Mikey are attacked by two men. While Foley is knocked unconscious, Mikey is wide awake and threatened by the attackers, who then kill him at gunpoint. By the way, did I mention that this is happening in the hallway right outside Foley's apartment? This fact is pointed out quite clearly by (you guessed it) Inspector Todd. So yeah, Foley is in real deep trouble now.
The main plot of this movie is quite simple. Foley goes on vacation, but actually uses that time off to go to Beverly Hills and investigate Mikey's murder on his own. Whenever you hear about a movie with this kind of premise, you'd expect a dramatic story about a personal vendetta. But let's remember that this is a comedy movie. Even as Foley conducts an unofficial investigation, he stays upbeat with his nonstop wisecracks. This movie does have plenty of opportunity for good laughs.
For example, in a somewhat ironic twist, Foley gets arrested by Beverly Hills police. From the police's point of view, it would appear that Foley shattered a window during an attempt to commit a crime, possibly armed robbery. The truth, which we in the audience witness ourselves, is too bizarre for the police to believe: Foley got hurled through the window from the inside. He cannot convince the cops no matter how many times he has to repeat it. This scene is also notable as the first to illustrate the culture clash between law enforcement in Beverly Hills and police work in Detroit.
In fact, a good portion of the humor in Beverly Hills Cop comes from Foley being a fish out of water. That's not to say that Foley is completely bewildered by his new environment. He still manages to make his way around Beverly Hills. Maybe a better analogy is that Foley is a piranha who swims to a different water where more orderly fish live. I say "orderly" because members of the Beverly Hills police do things by the book. Foley, on the other hand, will follow the book only if it makes sense to him. Otherwise, he'll just throw it out.
This goes back to what I believe is the main reason this movie is funny: Eddie Murphy. Once again, he is a pretty funny guy. In every scene, he holds himself completely together while delivering one funny line after another. During moments where he is talking nonstop for several seconds, he soars to the top without going over the top. Aside from his performance, Murphy plays a character who manages to be likable even if he is not perfect. Consider the scene where Foley takes two Beverly Hills cops to a place where they can relax appropriately, before revealing that it's a strip club. Foley makes us laugh as he is making remarks about having an erection in response to the lovely dancer on stage.
Beverly Hills Cop is quite an engaging cop movie. The plot may be fairly straightforward without too many big surprises and twists, but the humor, in my opinion, is where the heart of the movie really lies. I was definitely captivated by Eddie Murphy's energy and comedic timing. It made me think about what would happen if the role of Axel Foley were given to someone else other than Eddie Murphy, like an actor with an already established resume. Who knows if Eddie Murphy's career would take off? But in the end, there's no point in thinking about it. The important thing is that, with Beverly Hills Cop, Eddie Murphy got a chance to shine at what he does best: making us laugh.
For more information about Beverly Hills Cop, visit the Internet Movie Database.