Eddie Murphy

That Richard Pryor biopic that’s seemingly been in the works since before Pryor was born? Well, it might actually be moving forward, with a director and a shortlist of three potential actors and a giant wheelbarrow full of money to fund it. The director? Lee Daniels. The actors? Eddie Murphy, Marlon Wayans and Michael B. Jordan. The group filling farm equipment with legal tender?  The Weinstein Company, which has come on board to finance the entire project. There’s a lot to think about here. The big issue might seem to be Daniels’ involvement, and one could discuss that until the cows come home (if Lee Daniels lived on a farm, which I’m assuming he doesn’t). Daniels isn’t known for his funny bone, and a biopic about a stand-up comedian would have to at least acknowledge that jokes exist and that people do this thing called “laughing” after hearing them. But that’s only one half of the story. The other half involves those three fellows up for the starring role, and the humongous differences between each one. So let’s break ‘em down one by one.

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OK

Finally, a bit of good news for those in favor of arming Eddie Murphy and unleashing him on unaware California residents. Jerry Bruckheimer, the megaproducer behind the Pirates of the Caribbean films and so many Michael Bay productions, has decided upon his new post-Disney partner, and it is Paramount Pictures. Many giganto-huge blockbusters will surely stem from this new partnership, but the first are to be Top Gun 2 and a Beverly Hills Cop reboot. Both have been talked about for years, but now 26 years later we’re finally on track to see an aged Tom Cruise ejecting himself from a series of aircraft — and yes, according to Deadline, both Cruise and Murphy are set to return to these new installments. It’s the same old story. Movie was popular several decades ago. Now it’s being redone. But the difference here is Bruckheimer, who was a producer and major creative force on both the original Top Gun and the first two Beverly Hills Cop installments. Will it change things now that he is rebooting his own babies and not, say, radio show characters from almost a century ago? (The $190m hole The Lone Ranger left in Disney’s pocket is considered one of the major reasons Bruckheimer was given the boot.) His affection could make a difference. The man may want to ensure that his earliest hits are given the care and respect they deserve, but Bruckheimer is also a very different producer than he was then. The Bruckheimer of today, who traffics almost […]

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Beverly Hills Cop

Otay, here’s the deal. For the past few years (at least since 2000’s Nutty Professor II), all humans have been clamoring for Eddie Murphy to get back to what made his comedy work so well: sarcasm, a little edge and Samuel L. Jackson robbing a McDonald’s knock-off with a shotgun. Now after Norbit and Meet Dave and a few cashed checks, Murphy is taking that suggestion to heart in the most literal way possible. According to Deadline Hollywood, he’s working with Paramount to make a fourth (fourth!) Beverly Hills Cop movie. After CBS passed on the TV version from The Shield creator Shawn Ryan and co-starring Brandon T. Jackson, Paramount (who was on board as the rights holder) hired Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) to shift the character back to the big screen. So this is happening (for now).

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coming to america club

Despite its arrival two years after the surprise success of ‘Crocodile’ Dundee, the similarly premised Coming to America hardly seemed like a knockoff. Sure it is also about a strange foreigner who visits New York City and experiences a comical culture clash, but the 1980s were actually so full of movies of this nature (see also Moscow on the Hudson, Splash, Brother From Another Planet, Big Business, both The Muppets and Jason Take Manhattan and maybe even Big, which along with ‘Crocodile’ Dundee II had just recently come out ahead of this), so it wasn’t a big deal. Besides, with Eddie Murphy at the peak of his career at the time there was no way this thing could fail. This weekend is the 25th anniversary of the release of Coming to America (specifically yesterday), and although a lot of obvious parts are dated (some of which actually make the movie funnier now), it remains a rather timeless metropolitan fairy tale. It’s still one of the top three Murphy comedies (the other two being Trading Places and Beverly Hills Cop, of course), features some amazing make-up work by Rick Baker that would be still be worthy of its Oscar nomination if done today, excellent African dance choreography from little known Paula Abdul and in recent years it provided tons more laughs via the meme in which any dialogue spoken by James Earl Jones is dubbed over scenes of Darth Vader. As ripe as the plot would seem for a remake, hopefully it […]

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“Newsweek,” the 79-year-old magazine is stepping into the present by axing their print edition to go fully digital in 2013. Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown announced the shift yesterday (tellingly on the Daily Beast site), and the polarized responses of crushing nostalgia, predictions of ultimate failure and it’s-about-time praise came from all corners of (again tellingly) the internet. Whether it’s a signal of internal trouble or not, it’s where our world is heading, which is why it’s particularly encouraging in this time of transition to look back on some of the “Newsweek” covers of the past to discover that history tends to repeat itself. Someone should package that up and coin a phrase about it. Of course, all of our choices are movie-themed, but as you’ll see from the selections, the ghost of the present seems to haunt the past even in the examination of the popular art. Even without the deep sentiment, it’s still fascinating to let nostalgia well up for the times gone by caught by these covers.

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Over Under - Large

Walter Hill’s pairing of Nick Nolte’s grizzled growl and Eddie Murphy’s ludicrous laugh, 48 Hrs., is often thought of as being the genesis of the buddy cop genre, and it’s still widely considered to be one of the best films to come from the category as well. What we’ve come to expect from these movies, what has come to feel old hat, was fresh and inventive back when Hill and the gang were putting this project together, and the formula they used was so successful that we can now expect to get at least a couple high profile buddy cop movies released every year. That gives 48 Hrs. a certain amount of clout. And heck, Hill’s name alone provides it with an amazing pedigree. He was a genre master in the 80s, and these days he gets looked back on as being some sort of film geek deity. It’s no wonder 48 Hrs. still gets shown so much respect. One buddy cop movie that doesn’t often get spoken of with reverence, however, is Tony Scott’s The Last Boy Scout. While trying to process the recent passing of the famed director, it feels nice to look back on this – not one of his better-loved works – give it a reevaluation, and decide whether or not it’s something the film geek community has given enough appreciation to. This wasn’t a well-reviewed film, it wasn’t one of the biggest money-makers of its year, and people don’t look back on it as being […]

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Over Under - Large

Comedic actor Mike Meyers has had an interesting film career. On the one hand he can be considered an amazing success, because he has three huge franchises under his belt. On the other hand, he sometimes gets looked at as something of a failure, because everything he’s done outside of those franchises has been less than stellar. The first two franchises Meyers launched were Wayne’s World and Austin Powers; moneymaking juggernauts in their own rights for sure. But it was the third series of films he was involved in, the animated Shrek movies, that really broke the bank. This tale of an overgrown ogre finding true love managed to connect with children and parents alike, and the original spawned a series of sequels that broke all sorts of box office records and pushed mountains of merchandise. I’m sure Meyers was a rich man already, but Shrek made him very rich. One project that didn’t do so well for the guy was So, I Married an Axe Murderer. It was Meyers’ big followup to his breakthrough success with Wayne’s World, the movie that could have  seen him moving away from the heavy character work he did on Saturday Night Live and moving closer to taking more mainstream roles playing regular guys. Unfortunately it didn’t even make a tenth of the money that Wayne’s World pulled in, it’s been largely forgotten over time, and Meyers hasn’t been accepted in a role where he plays a regular guy since.

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The head honchos over at Universal seem to be undergoing a mid-life crisis of sorts as they reflect on their (relative) youth back in the year 1988. First, they announced last week that they’re going to move forward on a sequel to the Robert De Niro/Charles Grodin comedy Midnight Run (conveniently forgetting the three made-for-TV sequels that already exist). And now they’ve let word get out that they’re eyeballing a sequel to Ivan Reitman’s Twins. As awesome as that doesn’t sound, the news gets even more topical and ridiculous. According to THR, the studio wants to reunite Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as the unlikely twins and add a third player into the mix so they can call the film Triplets. And who do they supposedly want for the third sibling? None other than Mr. Box Office Poison himself, Eddie Murphy!

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr heads to the desert to hide in a cave, hoping against hope that some mystical bald alien will beam him to Mars so he can make a pass at the ridiculously gorgeous Lynn Collins in a brass bikini. Unfortunately, no one came to his rescue, so he snuck into an abandoned house in upstate New York to terrorize some people. Again, no one came. That left Kevin to skip his movies this week so he could go to the library and find a book that would allow him to curse Eddie Murphy into not speaking. He hasn’t been heard from since.

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Drinking Games

Have you ever wanted to stick it to those smarmy white-collar crooks who raid pension funds and embezzle money from hard-working citizens? Well, you may never get this chance, but you can do it vicariously through the characters in Brett Ratner’s blue-collar revenge film Tower Heist, out on DVD and Blu-ray this week. Though, since no one is going to try to rob a fat cat’s penthouse apartment (because if you’ve got the time, ingenuity and energy to do that, you’d be rich by now), why not relax a bit when you watch the film. And what better way to relax than with some of your favorite adult beverage to keep you company?

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Beverly Hills Cop

Brett Ratner. Tower Heist. The Oscar debacle. I think it’s time we gazed into our crystal balls – heh, heh, heh – to a much simpler point in Eddie Murphy’s career. He found success on Saturday Night Live, even brought out a few fans here and there with 48 Hours, but it wasn’t until 1984 and Beverly Hills Cop that he became an A-list movie star. It remains a classic, a pinnacle of Murphy’s career, and to this day remains one of the biggest comedies of all time. And who directed it, you might ask. Why, it’s none other than Martin Brest, the guy who would go on to make that hilarious comedy where Brad Pitt bounces off two cars and Gigli. Yes, he made Gigli. You think there’s a reason the guy hasn’t been heard from since 2003? He didn’t die. Oh, right, back to Beverly Hills Cop. Here is what Martin Brest had to say about this comedy classic. I’m sure I’ll be stopping and rewinding this commentary an awful lot listening to Harold Faltermeyer’s theme and watching this over and over and over and over and over again. It never gets old.

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The last forty-eight hours have been tumultuous ones for this year’s Academy Awards telecast. First, the show’s producer Brett Ratner was unceremoniously asked to step down from his position after the world realized that he was a creep. Then his host, Eddie Murphy, soon followed, wishing the new producer and new host the best of luck. Fans all over the web were in an agitated state, debating who should take their places, with a large contingent actively campaigning for a very Muppet Oscars. The Academy seems to be in a bit of a panic though, because less than a day later they’ve already locked their choices down, and the replacements they found can most accurately be described as safe. First, it was announced that Brian Grazer would be the new producer. After this, speculation began to run rampant that Billy Crystal would be the most logical and easy choice for Grazer to plug in as host, seeing as he’s done the job so many times and has a seemingly endless enthusiasm for the gig. Sure enough, earlier today Crystal took to his @BillyCrystal Twitter account and made the following announcement, “Am doing the Oscars so the young woman in the pharmacy will stop asking my name when I pick up my prescriptions. Looking forward to the show.” Since then, the Academy’s official account has retweeted Crystal’s claims, making things pretty official.

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What an epically bad week for Eddie Murphy – Tower Heist didn’t do so hot at the box office, then Brett Ratner had to go and run his filthy and idiotic mouth all around town, and almost immediately both Ratner and Murphy were out as Oscars producer and host, respectively. But no matter how bad Murphy’s week is, it’s absolutely no excuse for this latest Murphy monstrosity, a trailer for the heinous A Thousand Words, conveniently appearing on the Internet just as Murph-buzz reaches its fever pitch. The plot of A Thousand Words is essentially that of Liar Liar with a slight (very, very slight) twist. Eddie Murphy plays an asshole who finds out he can only utter a thousand more words before he dies. That’s it. Hilarious, right? If you haven’t had enough Murphy-based shenanigans in your week so far, check out the trailer after the break. I warned you.

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Last night’s Movie News After Dark column reported the news that Brett Ratner was forced to resign from being the producer of this year’s Academy Awards telecast due to publicly making some homophobic comments that offended a number of people who viewed them as hate speech, and disgusted everyone else who viewed them as sobering proof that there are still men in their 40s who talk like 15-year-old kids trying to impress their friends while drinking Slurpees in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven. The news that Ratner would be stepping down as producer was viewed as a negative to absolutely no one. But there has now been some collateral damage from Ratner’s exit that’s bound to bum some people out. In the wake of Ratner’s resignation The Academy has made an announcement that Eddie Murphy has stepped down as the host of the show as well. It seems that Eddie feels that a new producer would be better off stepping into a completely fresh situation with their own host rather than trying to continue work on what had already been done, because when asked about his decision he said, “First and foremost I want to say that I completely understand and support each party’s decision with regard to a change of producers for this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. I was truly looking forward to being a part of the show that our production team and writers were just starting to develop, but I’m sure that the new production team […]

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Culture Warrior

One of the great misconceptions about Hollywood is that it is a liberal institution. Several false assumptions inform this misconception: thinking of “Hollywood” as a monolithic entity in any way besides its shared corporate infrastructure, confusing public endorsements of celebrity politicians by celebrity movie stars as political activism, thinking that left-leaning consumers of movies see Hollywood as representing their political beliefs in any way, selectively reading a limited number of texts (e.g., Green Zone “proves” Hollywood’s liberalism, but every superhero movie ever isn’t proof of its conservatism), and, most importantly, thinking that the most public figures associated with Hollywood (i.e., stars and filmmakers) are Hollywood. This last point I think is one that has continued to be the least considered when such straw man critiques are drawn, because Hollywood here is equated only with its most visible figures who overshadow its intricate but also not-so-shrouded political economy. It’s no mistake that despite the fluctuating numbers of major and minor Hollywood studios in the past 100 years, the most powerful studios, like the biggest banks in the nation, have been referred to as “The Big Five.” And indeed, to the surprise of no one, both Big Fives have had and are continuing a lucrative relationship with one another. Hollywood’s agenda, of course, has always been profit, and the representatives of this ideology are not George Clooney and Matt Damon, but Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal (Chairman/CEO & Co-Chairman, Sony/Columbia), Stephen Blairson (CEO, 20th Century Fox), Brad Grey (Chairman/CEO, Paramount), Ronald Meyer […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr grabs a protest sign and a test so he can occupy something. All the big cities are taken, so he decides to Occupy Hollywood, but being one of the 99%, he can’t afford a plane ticket from Ohio to California. So, he occupies his local multiplex, squatting in the front of their biggest screen. There, he has a chance to check out the loosely-related Tower Heist and later drinks some spiked egg nog and wanders into a later screening of A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. At least that’s what he’s telling the authorities.

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When you hear the music for a horror film, you know you’re in for suspenseful strings and make-you-jump percussion while the music in a romance will swell in the moments leading up to that big proclamation. But for a heist film, the musical landscape is a bit more complicated. The music has to walk that line between action and suspense so it helps drive the action on screen while still leaving audiences on the edge of their seats waiting to see what will happen next. The music must lull you into the action as you find out about the heist and then keep your adrenaline pumping as that plan is carried out (or is at least attempted). Whether you are boosting cars in Fast Five or ideas in Inception, the music works to imitate the thieves themselves from the more quiet moments while setting up the plan to the all out action once you break into the necessary getaway. Tower Heist establishes its theme early (read: the opening credits) with subtle tones that sound almost like the buttons on an ATM or safe being pressed. Composer Christophe Beck is no stranger to heist films having also scored The Pink Panther re-boot back in 2006, but where The Pink Panther was a comedy, Tower Heist takes itself more seriously. Naturally a film with Eddie Murphy is not lacking in the joke department (the film’s trailer alone proves that), but when it comes to planning and carrying out the actual plan, Tower […]

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Josh Kovacs is, quite simply, outstanding at his job. Back-breaking early hours don’t faze the manager of the chi-chi Tower apartment building, one of the most glitzed-out residences in Manhattan, as he uses that time to beef up his knowledge of fancy cheeses and impressive wines in order to seamlessly recommend them to his high-end clientele. But Josh (Ben Stiller) isn’t just interested in impressing his residents (particularly penthouse owner Arthur Shaw), he’s also equally involved in the lives of his employees. Josh buys the Tower lifestyle hook, line, and sinker – obsessed with keeping his workers at the top of their game so as to provide the best experience for all Tower residents, an experience that will thus ensure longevity in the careers of all those Tower employees. It’s a machine that works, with Josh manning all the gears with a goofy grin on his face. But toss a wrench in that machine, and everything grinds to a halt. Josh’s life works when everyone does their job and does it well – whether that job be operating one of the Tower’s elevators or being a gracious resident. When money man Shaw (Alan Alda) is accused of bilking his clients out of millions of dollars, it stings Josh enough (after all, isn’t Shaw just a Brooklyn boy like Josh?), but when the deeper deception comes to light, Josh’s work ethic and mental stability both go soaring out the metaphorical skyscraper window. Shaw didn’t just play the old financial cup game […]

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You should read the interview in its long-form, or even just the highlights, but Rolling Stone has convinced Eddie Murphy to sit down for his first chat in a long while, and the result is the kind of thing that gets an Amen from the last pew in the row. At 50, the actor has “no interest” in doing more family movies – a genre that never gelled with his comic sensibilities in the first place – and even though Beverly Hills Cop 4 isn’t going to happen, he’s still looking to do “edgy stuff.” It would seem as though he has a firm grasp on his own financial security and his ability to turn down jobs (although that realization seems to have come a few years too late), because he’s ready to give up on movies if the right projects don’t come along. If they don’t, he’s content to hang out in a giant house playing guitar, or to get back on the road doing stand-up comedy. Putting Murphy in family movies was like casting a tank in a ballet. In a way, this announcement comes from a coma patient finally rousing in his hospital bed, and while retirement would at least save the world from more Meet Daves, the optimum option for fans is for the comedy legend to find some scripts that play to his strengths and get him back in the game in a major way.  

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The relationship between film studios and movie theaters is an oddly contentious one. You’d think the two would be the best of friends as few entertainment experiences can rival watching a fantastic film in a well run theater, but instead the two parties seem consistently at odds. They’re constantly fighting over the percentage of gross profits each one should get, they’ve recently started bickering about who should foot the bill for the cost of 3D glasses, and now at least one studio is making a bold move sure to anger theater owners even more. Per the LA Times, Universal will be making the upcoming Brett Ratner joint, Tower Heist, available on VOD just three weeks after it opens in theaters. It’s limited to two markets for now, so only movie fans in Atlanta and Portland, Oregon will be able to order the film from the comfort of their living room couch for the totally reasonable price of just $59.99. Sounds high to be sure, but the average movie ticket in theaters is around ten bucks, so if you can find five more people interested in seeing Murphy, Stiller and friends in a Ratner film then you’re golden. You also probably have friends with poor cinematic taste.

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