It’s pretty fashionable to hate on Eddie Murphy these days. What people forget is that not only did he carry (Will Farrell style) Saturday Night Live for several years, but he’s also made a grip of amazingly hilarious movies, not to mention some of the highest grossing comedies of all time. Whether we’re talking standup or his ability to play just about any character under the sun, Eddie Murphy is the new Rodney Dangerfield. He gets no respect, but he damn well deserves some.
In honor of this new film, Tower Heist, which hits theaters this Friday, let’s take a look at nine proofs that Eddie Murphy is a comic genius of the highest order. And Eddie, if Tower Heist bombs, just blame Brett Ratner.
The actual story is nothing new. The “prince and pauper switch places” theme is a trope as old as time itself. Murphy and Dan Ackroyd, however, bring their comic talents to breathe fresh live into an old cliché. The film is required viewing in the age of endless recession, 99 percenters and the end on the American Dream. You’ll never look at frozen concentrated orange juice the same way ever again.
It’s hard for us to think of this film without thinking of Kahn Souphanousinphone singing along with the classic track “Alex F.” If Trading Places showed Murphy as a master of comedic acting, Beverly Hills Cop proved he was a bankable Hollywood property. Few people remember that this film outgrossed Ghostbusters. It’s interesting to contemplate how he would have done in the role of Winston Zeddimore, which was written specifically for him. True story: This was originally slated to star Sly Stallone and be a gritty action picture. We’re not really sure how they planned to work bananas in the tailpipe into it.
Not to hate on Tim Kazurinsky, but when we say that Eddie Murphy carried Saturday Night Live for years, we’re not kidding. Who was his competition? Joe Piscopo? Murphy is still the only person to host the show while a cast member. The “White Like Me” sketch shows Murphy making critical observations on race while keepin the spirit light and fun. He passes as a white man, studying Hallmark cards to learn how white people think. When he hits the streets, he finds that white people don’t have to pay for anything, parties start on buses when black people leave, and banks give money away.