Why haven’t I seen this movie? Well, it’s PG-13, and I was ten or eleven when it came out. But why haven’t I seen it since? I’m not sure why I never circled around to it. Eventually I started doing this blog and I knew when I saw it, I’d have to review it here, which has a tendency to slow things down. But Steve Martin and 80s-90s Eddie Murphy together make for a film I’d have to experience eventually.
I always had some concept of the plot as being about a scam going down, so I was picturing something like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. But then a movie is involved, so maybe it was more like After the Fox. It turns out, the scam is that a box office superstar is getting tricked into acting in a no-budget film for free, I guess via hidden cameras. This is going to be fun.
I think I first heard this existed in some kind of Eddie Murphy retrospective. I just remember an interview clip of Murphy talking about being awed at getting the chance to work with Nick Nolte. This looks like a slight revision of the “buddy cop” formula, where in this case, one of the chalk and cheese pairing isn’t a cop but a convict, presumably with the connections the one who is a cop needs.
Buddy cop wasn’t played out in the early 80s, but I think it was still well established at the time. What comes to mind right now is that the two-year later Beverly Hills Cop seems like a streamlined version of this premise without the buddy cop dynamic, merging the streetwise fast-talker character with the unshakeable detective character. It’s highly likely from the similarity and proximity that Murphy got Beverly Hills because of this movie.
I’m not sure I’ve seen Nolte in anything other than Lorenzo’s Oil, which I saw in a science class in high school. I don’t remember much of it, but I do know it’s clearly a very different film from this. Continue reading →
I first heard of this movie as the project that made Eddie Murphy back out of Star Trek IV. It was probably for the better, since the comedy of that movie comes from the serious characters being dumbfounded by the 20th century, and a wisecracking, street smart native would have made it more farcical.
Besides that, I know what the blurb says, about a social worker searching for a Tibetan boy destined to save the world, and I recall there being some kind of prop/replica in the quiet footpath with movie memorabilia at King’s Island before they replaced that area with something more interesting for their target clientele. Probably a gift shop, I don’t remember.
I’m sure I’ve seen Eddie Murphy in an action movie, but I can’t remember one. Unless Harlem Nights counts as action, and I wouldn’t. So as far as I can recall, this is the first time I’ll really see Eddie Murphy doing “action hero”. It doesn’t seem like a good fit, but I know there were at least two sequels. I could see him doing a straight-up parody, but that’s not what comes to mind here.
On the one hand, Eddie Murphy is a fish out of water in the part of his career before he decided playing multiple roles was a good substitute for being funny. On the other, I’m a little worried that this might not have much more to say than Trading Places did, only more one-sided and with uncomfortable stereotypes about native Africans the whole way through.
This movie came to my attention from a book of Drew Struzan movie poster art (his design was not used). I was interested by the art deco style of Struzan’s poster and headliners Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor, but I was scared off by the way it seemed to be promoted as a serious film about organized crime. I was relieved to read today when I chose it that it is in fact an action comedy. About organized crime.