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BEVERLY HILLS COP (1984)

JUNE 3, 2014

I hadn’t watched BEVERLY HILLS COP in some time and given that it is now 30 years old (time flies!), I was a tad worried that it might have not aged too well. I was pleasantly surprised that it held up pretty damn well. On top of that, it made me nostalgic for the time when action/comedies were pure hybrids and not just an excuse for cliché comedy with a generic and pointless action story glommed on so there can be a car chase every once in a while. 


Wisecracking Detroit detective, Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) gets an unexpected visit from a childhood friend who has gotten himself in hot water with some Beverly Hills based drug and bearer bond smugglers. 


When his friend is killed, Axel takes an unsanctioned trip to L.A. to try and solve the murder. He very quickly pisses off, not only Victor Maitland (Steven Berkoff), the crime lord behind his friend’s death, but the entire Beverly Hills Police force who don’t appreciate Axel snooping around on a case out of his jurisdiction. 


Fresh off of the enormous success of 48 HOURS (1982) and TRADING PLACES (1983), Eddie Murphy’s star was on the rise. BEVERLY HILLS COP gave him his big chance to carry a film and he spun gold with it, making into an instant classic and one of the highest grossing comedies of all time. 


The jokes still work as well as the movie itself. Directed by the reliable Martin Brest and written by Daniel Petrie, the film has a great pace that takes its time to set up the characters and the story. The humor comes organically from the scenes that continually drive the plot forward. 


This is something missing from a number of contemporary action/comedies. Where random scenes are thrown in just to squeeze as much humorous material out of them even though they ultimately have no bearing on the plot. And what plot there is, is usually so perfunctory that it barely qualifies as little more than excuse to justify the film’s existence. 


I’ll get off my soapbox, but BEVERLY HILLS COP, though not perfect was at least a fully fleshed out film with some thought put into the actual story. It also created a playground for Eddie Murphy to shine as a performer. To me that’s the essence of this particular action sub-genre.