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Movie Reviews

Beverly Hills Cop



Released: January 25th 1985 (UK)

Director: Martin Brest

Stars: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold

Certificate: 18 (UK)

Reviewer: Patrick Campbell

It isn’t long before the truly worst thing about the movie ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ (1984) hits the viewer square in the face, a fate unavoidable unless they’re lucky enough to have a mute button nearby. It is the theme tune, and it is ghastly – pure 80s synth which hasn’t aged well or managed to be any less irritating over time. Before 2005, this wasn’t a huge problem, but in 2011 can anyone hear the first five seconds of the music and not think about “The Crazy Frog” remix which assaulted our eardrums six years ago? Sometimes, of course, you don’t even need to hear music to be reminded of it, so apologies to all of you who have now got that screeching nonsense firmly implanted in your brain.

The horrible music shouldn’t put you off the film totally however. Eddie Murphy plays Detective Axel Foley, a motor mouth cop from the “Motor City” itself, Detroit. Foley is a maverick who doesn’t play by the rules, a constant pain in the backside for his seniors and colleagues who relies on his natural talent as a police officer in order to cling onto his job. We’re introduced to his friend, called Mikey, who confesses to just having got out of prison and acquiring some bonds in a dubious manner. How does Foley know Mikey, and why the close relationship? What of Foley’s past? These questions remain unanswered both before and after Mikey is killed, and that’s a shame – with no character background to work with, there’s no tangible reason for the audience to initially like Foley, particularly those who find Murphy’s energetic charisma both annoying and exaggerated.

Foley reveals himself to be one of the good guys however. Under strict orders not to travel to Beverly Hills to personally investigate his friend’s murder, he promptly does, causing mayhem and problems down at the local police station for “by the book” Detectives Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and Taggart (John Ashton). The relationship between the men is strained, not least when Foley stuffs several bananas in their car’s exhaust pipe to stop them following him, a good scene which surely must have disappointed thousands of teens at the time when it transpired that that trick didn’t work outside of the movies. In fact, there are several good – and funny – scenes in the movie, all of which revolve around Murphy’s natural flair for comedy. Upon being forcibly thrown out of a window and arrested for ‘disturbing the peace’, Foley’s quip: “Disturbing the peace? I got thrown out of a window! What’s the f*cking charge for getting pushed out of a moving car? Jaywalking?” is by far the funniest line in the movie.

In a way however, the humorous scenes and dialogue provide the one criticism you can aim at this film without sounding too much like a killjoy. What exactly is it? It’s labelled as an “action comedy” and the casting of Murphy certainly supports the latter. Yet the bad language throughout means it’s not a comedy for kids and the violent gunfight at the end of the movie is at odds with the humour and silliness that precedes it. You can’t help thinking that the film would have been better had it concentrated on one genre rather than a clumsy mishmash of two. As such, it’s perhaps best to tackle this film like you should with a few other Eddie Murphy movies – sit back and enjoy whilst not thinking about it too much.

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