Eddie Murphy’s Return: Unbelievable Fourth ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ Movie will Blow Your Mind!

When Eddie Murphy was honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor around ten years ago, he humorously noted the typical age of recipients. “It hasn’t escaped my notice that usually these kind of honors are bestowed upon people who are very, very old…To be standing here still looking like myself and very much alive is amazing.”

Fast forward to 2024 and Murphy is not just alive but thriving, as is his character Det. Alexander James “Axel” Foley. The fourth movie in the “Beverly Hills Cop” series is now available on Netflix, reviving the role that catapulted Murphy to fame.

Interestingly, Murphy wasn’t the original choice for the role, but looking back, it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the part.

Initially, “Beverly Hills Cop” was intended to star Sylvester Stallone, who was interested in more action and less humor. After all, he was known for playing Rocky and Rambo. But the essence of the story was about the comedic aspect of being an outsider. When Stallone dropped out, the role was offered to Mickey Rourke, who also declined.

Enter Murphy, and with his casting, a new era began. “Beverly Hills Cop” became one of the highest-grossing movie series ever. Murphy’s films have raked in more at the box office than any other “Saturday Night Live” alumnus. His success shattered the outdated belief among film executives that Black actors couldn’t generate significant revenue.

Murphy’s debut film, “48 Hours,” in 1982, was the seventh highest-grossing worldwide that year. The next year, “Trading Places” came in fourth. “Beverly Hills Cop,” the film that Murphy sort of fell into, was the top earner globally in 1984. This was despite competition from heavyweights like “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones,” and a slew of Brat Pack films such as “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” and “Pretty in Pink.”

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In an era dominated by action films and teen dramas, Murphy consistently delivered laughter, irrespective of the movie’s plot. He had a knack for highlighting the ridiculous and satirizing the absurd. His comedic talent was not reliant on a script or director. He had an instinct for finding the humor.

In his first film, Murphy played a con artist, and in his second, a career criminal. Perhaps Hollywood executives didn’t initially envision him as the cop in “Beverly Hills” because they had typecast him as a bankable comic rogue.

But Murphy’s success gave him leverage, and he used it to portray the Black experience while maintaining his marketability. This opportunity was rarely given to Black actors in Hollywood during the Reagan and Clinton eras. Despite a decade of blockbuster hits, Murphy’s “Boomerang” was criticized by some for presenting a world they deemed unrealistic. The issue? A thriving Black-owned business and a world where the people in power looked like Murphy.

“For those who believe it’s racist to have a film with a predominantly black cast, just consider the many movies that depict an all-white world,” Murphy pointed out in a Los Angeles Times opinion article in 1992. “And think about all those films that do have minor roles for African Americans — we thank you for perpetuating the stereotype that all people of color are pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers, and criminals.”

Remember, Murphy’s Hollywood career began with him portraying a con artist and a criminal. It took some persuasion to cast him as a police officer. But once he landed the role, he redefined what a leading man could be. Actors like Martin Lawrence, Will Smith, and Kevin Hart owe a lot to Axel Foley. The character’s theme song, “Axel F,” became a global hit and continues to be culturally significant even today — much like the comedic genius who brought the character to life.

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Perhaps this latest sequel is just a fun, light-hearted movie released to compete with summer blockbusters. Or maybe it’s a sign that Murphy is rebooting the franchise after a 30-year break following “Beverly Hills Cop 3.” Frankly, it doesn’t matter to me.

It’s Eddie Murphy.

Just like for the past 40 years, I’m going to delight in the unique humor that only he seems able to create.

@LZGranderson

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