How ‘Beverly Hills Cop 2’ Works Despite Itself

What the Axel F?!
By  · Published on May 12th, 2017

What the Axel F?!

To produce a sequel, in general, is to venture onto dangerous ground, but to make a comedy sequel is to wander recklessly into a mine field. The mystery is not hard to solve, think about the last time you went to a party and heard someone tell a hilarious joke. Oh how you laughed, you thought you might start to cry or even wet yourself a little. But then you overheard as that same friend made their way into a room full of new people and told the same joke. Sure, you laughed again, but not nearly as hard. Once you know the punchline, the returns on hearing the joke rapidly diminish.

On paper, 1987’s Beverly Hills Cop 2 should not work. The 1984 original was a landmark action-comedy that helped make Eddie Murphy one of the most marketable stars of the decade. The second installment strips away, among other things, much of the action from the first movie. This is baffling when considering it was directed by a then up-and-coming Tony Scott. Also absent is a lot of the slobs-vs-snobs conflict that was not only signature to Beverly Hills Cop but 80s comedies in general. In the 80s, Reaganomics had created a disparity of wealth (one with which we still wrestle to this day) and we saw a sharp rise in comedies in which regular Joes fought back against snooty WASPs. There is a reason that “save the rec center,” became a common trope/battle cry in this era. But by Part II, Axel Foley seems to run Beverly Hills, with few instances of culture clash to seed the comedy.

So if the heart and soul of Beverly Hills Cop were AWOL for the sequel, how could it possibly be worth watching? As the gents of the Junkfood Cinema Podcast assert in this week’s episode: the comedy remains strong. Beverly Hills Cop 2 is a playground for Eddie Murphy, who continues to flex his humor muscles and take Axel Foley to new heights of fast-talking bravado. The action set pieces are replaced with a series of knee-slapping bits that give Beverly Hills Cop 2 more the appearance of a Police Academy sequel than a Beverly Hills Cop sequel; but a good Police Academy sequel, so…Police Academy 2.

Add to this a soundtrack that adds Bob Seger’s “Shakedown” to the already legendary “Axel F” theme by synth maestro Harold Faltermeyer, and a bench of villains so deep that Ronny Cox is in the film and actually allowed to play a good guy! The film also ratchets up the absurdity of Judge Reinhold’s Billy Rosewood character until he is the undercurrent of action parody that gives BHC2 moments the feel like deleted scenes from Hot Fuzz. All of these elements come together to compensate for the lack of bombastic action moments in a way that has to be seen to be believed.

But after you see it, listen to Junkfood Cinema’s dissection of Beverly Hills Cop 2 as they continue their series on the Summer of 1987!

As a special treat, anyone who backs JFC on Patreon will have access to weekly bonus episodes covering an additional cult movie, a new movie in theaters, or a mailbag episode devoted to your submitted questions! During Summer of 87, there will be an entirely separate Summer of 77 miniseries just for Patrons! Have a couple bucks to throw in the hat, we’ll reward you!

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Longtime FSR columnist, current host of FSR’s Junkfood Cinema podcast. President of the Austin Film Critics Association.