On Tuesday it was officially announced that Eddie Murphy will host the 2012 Academy Awards. Obviously he will share co-hosting duties with his sister and uncle, both of whom will be played by Eddie in a fat suit.
This announcement ended six months of speculation that began immediately after last year’s abysmal effort by Anne “What The Hell Is Comedic Timing?” Hathaway and James “Maybe I Should Just Pick One Or Two Hobbies And Stick With Them” Franco.
Of course, most observers figured the Academy would go with someone familiar and safe (and named Billy Crystal) this time around. However, it turns out that the producer of the 2012 telecast, Brett Ratner, was looking for someone a little less “safe” and a little more, I don’t know, starring in a film he directed that is being released this November. So they went with Eddie Murphy even though he is clearly past his comedic prime, having appeared in precisely two good films since the turn of the millennium.
Now, as evidenced by their attempt to be hip and connect with the youngsters last year, the Academy generally tries to choose a host who is at least somewhat commercially relevant. So this decision struck me as a little strange. If Murphy can’t entertain people with his movies, which last about 90 minutes, how the hell is he going to keep 300 million people glued to the tube for four and a half hours this February? Sure, Eddie is a comedy legend, and he would have been a fantastic host back in 1993. But have you seen Meet Dave?
That being said, I don’t particularly enjoy going against the grain. In fact, I love the establishment. If “the man” writes something on the wall, I read it and don’t ask questions. So if this “picking Oscar hosts who were really awesome 15 years ago” thing is the direction the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wishes to go, that’s cool. I even have a few suggestions for other has-been Hollywood types the Academy might want to keep in mind for the future. You’re welcome, guys.
In his prime, Chevy Chase was a physical comedy genius and a true master of the dry one-liner. He rose to stardom as an original cast member of Saturday Night Live, then parlayed that notoriety into a successful movie career, making classic comedic turns in such films as Caddyshack, Vacation, Fletch, ¡Three Amigos! and, of course, Christmas Vacation. Chevy was so funny in the 70s and 80s that he actually did host the Oscars back then. Twice. And he was great. He opened the 1987 telecast with the classic greeting, “Good evening, Hollywood phonies!”
Sadly, that was one of the last funny things Chevy Chase did for about 20 years. For some reason, Chevy just stopped being funny. Maybe all those comedic pratfalls just took a toll on his body. Or maybe all the drugs he took to numb the pain of those pratfalls took a toll on his brain. But one way or another, Chevy lost it. Luckily, in the last two years he’s been able to regain some of his old form in the NBC sitcom Community, so he might be the perfect guy to follow Eddie Murphy in 2013.
Dan Aykroyd was probably never quite as brilliant as contemporaries Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, or Steve Martin, but he had some pretty great moments. The unscrupulous toy company executive on SNL selling his “Bag O’ Glass”? Hilarious. Blues Brothers? Classic. Trading Places with co-star Eddie Murphy? Pretty funny. Ghostbusters? Perfect. But all good things come to an end, and I’ve got one word for you that pretty much sums up the man’s current ability: Crossroads. So yeah, these days old Danny boy would be wise to just focus on hocking his wine and liquor products and leave the comedy to others. Which means he’s just the type of guy the Academy is looking for.