Beverly Hills Cop (1984) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

There’s Something About Mary, Wedding Crashers, Rush Hour, and 40 Year Old Virgin didn’t come close to its grosses. The biggest films of other Saturday Night Live Alums like Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell and Chevy Chase can’t touch it. Bill Murray’s biggest (Ghostbusters), barely beat it with the help of a rerelease. Beverly Hills Cop, starring Eddie Murphy was a huge hit in 1984, so big in fact, that, until The Hangover, this movie kept the record for biggest R-rated comedy for 25 years. What made this movie such a big success? Is it that funny/special/great that it deserved to make that kind of coin?

To answer those questions, I can honestly say I don’t know what made it such a success. But, while rewatching it, I noticed that Eddie Murphy’s charm just oozed off the screen while the film itself was nothing special. I realize at the time the film premiered, the idea of a buddy cop comedy was still new and fresh but the amount of money the film made still blows my mind for how “small” the film was. I put small in quotations because it was not a naval gazing independent film shot on a $10,000 budget, it did have Simpson/Bruckheimer behind the film and all the money that they needed at their disposal, but it really isn’t an event film.

This is the fourth 30 Years at the Top feature I have written and the other three were Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. and Return of the Jedi, all movies that were big, studio films with special effects, grand scores and giants of the industry behind the scenes. Beverly Hills Cop had Eddie Murphy and a soundtrack that might be considered either classic or dated. When you look at the $230 million that the film grossed originally, it doesn’t seem that big compared to today when movies are making $100 million+ in one weekend, but when you adjust the film for inflation, it would have made over $530 million! That is more than any Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean or Transformers.

AAANDDD this movie made it with no special effects, no franchise name recognition and no big action scene. The movie did it with just the hook of Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills.


Many stars have come from Saturday Night Live before and after Eddie Murphy, but no one had a career like Murphy did in the mid 1980s. John Belushi might have had a similar career if his demons hadn't won, but no one else from SNL’s 30+ years on the air can match Murphy. When I was growing up, from what I could pick up on at such a young age, I came to the conclusion that Eddie Murphy was a comic genius and whatever he said and did would be met with uncontrollable laughter from the audience. If Murphy was in a movie, or showed up at an event, people would just wait and watch to see what he was going to do next. He CONTROLLED his audience in the mid 80’s and they were his puppets. Now, looking at Eddie Murphy in 2010, after he has made a string of movies that were just a cash grab, has done many strange things in his personal life and the only major hits he is involved in now is a voiceover part, it is hard to remember why he was such a big deal.

Like I stated previously, Beverly Hills Cop is not that memorable of a movie. It gets the benefit of the doubt because it was made before all the clichés of the genre were clichés, but in 2010, it feels like a paint by the numbers buddy film. Yet Eddie did have that certain something that made you laugh when he was enjoying himself. Lately, he seems to be going through the motions in his films and there is no joy and, frankly, watching this movie, it was jarring to see him young, happy and carefree. While time has not been as kind to this movie as some other giant hits from this time period. Beverly Hills Cop is a great time capsule to show how huge Eddie Murphy was in the mid 80s. It is also a good example of how a movie can blow up at the box office with the right premise and star attached.

"Why that's very interesting Mr. Villain."

The last time I saw this film, I was about 5-6 years old. When watching it again, I noticed a subtext that I had never noticed or picked up on before. I thought I was going crazy but researched it online and noticed that Bill (The Sports Guy) Simmons wrote about this in the past. If you watch the film, there is a very strong feeling that Axel Foley might not like the ladies. The facts to back up this case are as follows:

  • The one person Axel Foley has any kind of spark with is his “close friend” whose murder he is out to avenge in the film.
  • His female friend in the film feels totally comfortable going to Axel’s hotel room with him and lying seductively on the bed. There is no sexual tension in this scene and neither character seems to notice. Axel is more interested in messing with the detectives than doing anything with Jenny.
  • Axel goes to a strip club and foils a robbery. He stops this robbery because he was watching what the guys were doing more than what was going on the stage.
  • He buys Billy (Judge Reinhold) a robe and tells him to “think of me when you are stepping out of the shower.”

If the creators of the film meant for this subtext to be in the film, I applaud them for doing something so risky and under the nose of the studio. The more likely story is that it was an accident, but pointing out all these awkward scenes made the film 50% more enjoyable for me.

Posted by Ryan

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