Eddie Murphy is famed for his portrayal of Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop, and he is now set to play host at the 84th Academy Awards. But will his performance be seen as a “cop-out” on the Academy’s part? Well, with a stage presence like Murphy’s, it’s hard to believe fans won’t leave laughing hysterically (and perhaps mildly offended), but that is only if he calls on the comedy from his days of old.
Murphy is a man of humble beginnings -- well, relatively speaking. He began his career as a stand-up comedian, a humble position, yet his acts were characterized by lewd content and frequent swearing, a not-so-humble performance. But humble or not, Murphy caught the eyes of the folks at Saturday Night Live, where he scored a role in the 1980s.
With that irresistible charm and that easily recognizable laugh, Murphy made his way onto the big screen with films like 48 Hours, which proved to be Murphy’s first Golden Globe nomination. And the 1980s were no doubt Murphy’s golden years, when he received Golden Globe nominations for Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop I and II, and Coming to America. While adding to his film resume, Murphy somehow managed to construct a music career in his spare time. Yes, most agree that he should stick to acting, but admit it, if you hear “Party All the Time” come on the radio, you’ll be singing it for days. And leave it to Eddie Murphy to base his singing career upon a song written and produced by Rick James.
In the 1990s Eddie Murphy hit a slump, and it was his acting career that took a hit. His lowest point was Beverly Hills Cop III, which was torn apart by critics and floundered at the box office. And thankfully Axel Foley’s badge has been retired, as Murphy recently refused to make a fourth film in the series.
In the later 1990s Murphy’s career saw a small revival and he began cranking out family films -- Mulan, Dr. Dolittle, Shrek, and Daddy Daycare, among others. Murphy became soft; he lost his biting edge. He spent his days masquerading as a jovial dragon, doctor, donkey, or daddy rather than the quick-witted comic he founded his career upon. These family films are a far cry from his risqué days in the comedy clubs.
Then there was Dreamgirls. Murphy took a risk, and it paid off (not to mention he got to take another stab at a singing career). He was awarded a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, but stormed out of the theater upon losing.
However, this time around, Murphy has reportedly promised to stay for the entire ceremony.
As the host of the 84th Academy Awards, Murphy has the opportunity to return to the adult humor that made him famous. He has the chance to take another risk. What way better to return to stand-up comedy than on the stage at the Academy Awards?
Murphy has recently promised viewers that he will be the worst host in history, but we all know the construction of low expectations often accounts for success. Murphy is smart. He has the humor, he has the resume, he has the shock factor, he has the redemptive power; all we can do is hope he follows through.