Beverly Hills Cop (USA, 1984)
Directed by Martin Brest
Starring Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Lisa Eilbacher
In a piece he wrote for GQ a couple of years ago, Mark Harris opined that much of Hollywood's current malaise stems from the mind-set of the generation running the studios. Hollywood's recent conservative spiral has come about because the people green-lighting film came of age at the dawn of the modern blockbuster. In his words: "the guys who felt the rush of Top Gun... [are] now in [their] forties... And increasingly, it is their taste, their appetite, and the aesthetic of their late-'80s post-adolescence that is shaping movie-making."
Trading Places, with the run-down architecture of Detroit and Patti LaBelle's 'New Attitude' taking the place of refined New York City building and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. Both the opening chase and the final showdown take heavily after the multi-car pile-ups in The Blues Brothers, though they are executed with much less timing and panache. Had Landis not made such a pig's ear of the third film, you might hazard to say he would have been a safer bet here.
Chinatown, but it would have been enough to keep people guessing, if only for a while.
Deliverance fame and Judge Reinhold, who had recently come from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. But other than Gil Hall, none of the supporting cast are strong or convincing enough to reign Murphy in. Even Steven Berkoff, in uptight threatening ham mode, can't provide the counterbalance needed to give the Axel Foley character meaning.
Beowulf or Atlantis: The Lost Empire; both of these films squandered great potential, while this has much less to squander in the first place. Instead it's a film that might induce a chuckle, but mainly leaves us with the resignation that comes from lowered expectations.
Mark Harris' excellent GQ article, The Day The Movies Died, can be read in full here. John Landis' highly entertaining Q&A from 2009 can be watched from the beginning here; the section involving Beverly Hills Cop begins here.
NEXT REVIEW: The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)