#100 Beverly Hills Cop
(1984, Martin Brest)
“The supercop story was working, OK?”
Even at the mere sight of this movie on my list, I got the iconic Harold Faltermeyer composed Axel F theme stuck in my head, and it refused to leave even after I’d watched the movie. Probably didn’t help that the theme seems to be permanently playing throughout much of the movie. So, sheer catchiness of its theme tune aside, is Beverly Hills Cop any good?
Well, following its theme tune, this is yet another movie that screams “the 80s”. I don’t know what it is about that decade that seems to generate its own aesthetic, but this film definitely fits it. The theme tune, the soft rock anthem that opens the movie, the clothes, the hair, everything just feels very 80s. This isn’t a bad thing generally, it just makes the movie feel a little dated at times.
For the first 20 minutes, Beverly Hills Cop seemed like a disappointment. Eddie Murphy, known as a comic actor following his career in stand-up, naturally informed me that this was a comedy, so the first 20 minutes (Axel Foley (Murphy) botching an undercover mission and ending up in a car chase involving a massive truck) seemed to suggest otherwise, coming across more as a generic cop movie with over-the-top chase scenes. Don’t get me wrong, the truck chase was an awesome spectacle, but sadly, it didn’t really make me laugh.
However, it wasn’t until after Axel’s friend gets murdered and he slips off to LA to find those responsible that the movie comes into its own. Essentially, it’s only good when he really is a Beverly Hills cop. It’s the only film I can think of where the laughs start following the murder of the main character’s best friend (although I suppose Fargo does generate humour from murder too), but there you go.
Eddie Murphy is fantastic here. Sure, it’s a career defining moment for him, and definitely his most beloved role, but it’s so entertaining that it makes me wonder why the hell so many of his later choices were just so downright awful. It makes me wonder if he just expended all his energy here and never replenished it when it came to making the Shrek movies or The Nutty Professor or the much-maligned Pluto Nash.
Maybe it’s because his support cast here do such a brilliant job of being funny too. While Murphy is certainly the central comic figure here, the uptight LA police force are also entertaining, particularly the slightly incompetent duo sent to track Foley to ensure he doesn’t investigate the case. Characters such as these run the risk of being annoying, especially Judge Reinhold’s character, but here they manage to avoid this problem. Which is good.
The problem is that the movie is generally kind of clichéd and cheesy, although this may again be a symptom of how 80s the movie is. Foley has an angry chief, the LA cops are uptight and do things by the book while Foley is a renegade and a loose cannon. Also, the villain may as well be wearing a sign around his neck saying “I’m evil”. It’s your traditional cop movie through and through, but oddly, this doesn’t drag the film down that much. This may be because the movie’s a comedy, so it almost feels like a parody of itself.
Beverly Hills Cop is a little rough around the edges then, but ultimately is a very enjoyable 80s comedy that’s worth a watch.
Starring Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Aston & Lisa Eilbacher
Written by Danilo Bach & Daniel Petrie Jr.
Produced by Don Simpson & Jerry Bruckheimer
Music score by Harold Faltermeyer
Cinematography by Bruce Surtees
Edited by Arthur Coburn & Billy Weber
Favourite Scene: Eddie Murphy poses as a supposed gay lover to the villain to get into an exclusive country club. Hilarious
Scene That Bugged Me: Why did the villain have Eddie Murphy thrown through his own window? He needs to get a new one now! And it seemed like he had enough influence to have the police remove him without damage to his own building. So why?!
Watch it if: You too can’t get the theme out of your head
Avoid it if: Having the theme stuck in your head is akin to torture