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Franchise Killers: Beverly Hills Cop III

murphy - beverly-hills-cop-3

It’s easy to forget this now, but once upon a time Eddie Murphy was the coolest and funniest guy on the planet.  In the early 80’s, his movie career got off to a fantastic start with 48 Hours and Trading Places,  But it was 1984’s Beverly Hills Cop that officially made Murphy a major movie star.  Three years later, Murphy reprised his role as Axel Foley in an action-packed sequel.  Beverly Hills Cop II wasn’t nearly as good as the first movie, but as 80’s action movies went, it was better than most.  Then Murphy decided he wanted to do other things for a while.  By the time he got around to Beverly Hills Cop III, ten years had passed since the first movie and no one cared anymore.  Especially Murphy.

In 1988, Murphy was still one of the biggest movie stars in the world.  But he was getting tired of doing the same schtick in every movie and wanted to branch out.  His solution was star in a romantic comedy.  Coming to America allowed Murphy to play multiple characters and to showcase his trademark humor, but it also allowed the actor to show his sensitive side.  For the first time, Murphy wasn’t just playing a charismatic motor-mouth.  He was a romantic leading man.  The comedy managed to appeal to Murphy’s core fan base while reaching out to a broader audience.

Coming to America was directed by John Landis who had directed Murphy in his earlier hit, Trading Places.  According to Landis, Murphy changed between making the two movies:

The guy on Trading Places was young and full of energy and curious and funny and fresh and great. The guy on Coming to America was the pig of the world – the most unpleasant, arrogant, bullshit entourage… just an asshole… We clashed quite a bit because he was such a pig; he was so rude to people.  I was like, ‘Jesus Christ, Eddie! Who are you?’  We had a good working relationship, but our personal relationship changed because he just felt that he was a superstar and that everyone had to kiss his ass.  He was a jerk.

The feeling was mutual.  The way Murphy tells the story, Paramount wasn’t interested in hiring Landis after all the bad press he got for Twilight Zone: The Movie.  For those who don’t know, Landis directed a segment in the movie which was set in Vietnam.  In a tragic accident involving a helicopter, actor Vic Morrow and two child actors were killed.  Making matters worse, the scene was being shot late at night when the child actors weren’t legally allowed to be working.  Landis and several others involved in the production were charged with manslaughter.  After a nine-month trial, they were ultimately acquitted.

Murphy said he felt bad for Landis whom he had befriended while making Trading Places, so he went to bat for his friend.  According to Murphy, Landis immediately started demanding more money and Murphy insisted Paramount pay up.  But Murphy claims Landis was not at all grateful for the favor.  He says Landis got on the set of Coming to America and started throwing his weight around.  Murphy said Landis was upset that Murphy never showed up to support him during his nine-month ordeal in court.  Eventually, things got heated.

One day, Murphy had some writers on the set working on a script for a TV show his company was producing.  When Landis saw the writers, Murphy says the director made a scene.  Murphy recounted the incident in a Playboy interview:

I playfully grabbed him around the throat, put my arm around him and I said to Fruity, one of my guys, ‘What happens when people put my business in the street?’ And Fruity said, ‘they get f*cked up.’ I was kind of half-joking. Landis reached down to grab my balls, like he also thought it was a joke–and I cut his wind off. He fell down, his face turned red, his eyes watered up like a bitch and he ran off the set. F*ckin’ punk.

He came to my trailer later and made this big speech. His voice was trembling. And it all came out: that he didn’t think I was talented, that the only reason he did Coming to America was for money, that he didn’t respect me since I hadn’t gone to his trial and all this bullshit. All this f*cked-up shit. Called me ignorant, an asshole.

I’m sitting there shattered; I’m thinking, This f*cking guy. I bent over f*ucking backward to get this guy a job. He probably won’t even acknowledge what happened. He didn’t realize that his f*cking career was washed up. So I told him, ‘The next time you f*ck around with me, I’m gonna whip your ass.’

Later on, when asked about the possibility of working with Landis again, Murphy said that Landis had a better chance of working with the late Vic Morrow than of ever working with him again.  Harsh.  But oddly, it was Murphy who reached out to Landis to make Beverly Hills Cop III.

Eddie Murphy - Beverly Hills Cop 3 - 1994

Eddie Murphy – Beverly Hills Cop 3 – 1994

By that point, the third Beverly Hills Cop movie had been stuck in development limbo for years.  Early scripts had Murphy solving a crime in London.  At various points, both Sean Connery and John Cleese were considered to costar.  Judge Reinhold, John Ashton and Ronny Cox were all supposed to return for the third movie.  But as production on the sequel got delayed over budget concerns, Ashton and Cox had to move on due to other commitments.

Eventually, the London concept was scrapped because the storyline was deemed to be to close to the plot of the Michael Douglas movie, Black Rain.  So Die Hard and Commando screen-writer, Steven E. de Souza, was hired to write a new script.  What he came up with was essentially Die Hard in a theme park.  The budget for de Souza’s script was estimated at $70 million dollars.  But Paramount got cold feet after Murphy’s latest movie, The Distinguished Gentleman, disappointed at the box office.  They demanded the budget be dropped to $55 million.  Murphy was getting paid $15 million, so that only left $40 million for the rest of the movie.  As a result, action scenes were cut and replaced with scenes of Murphy conducting an investigation.

Landis said the movie “was a very strange experience. The script was not any good, but I figured, ‘So what? I will make it funny with Eddie.’ I mean, one of the worst scripts I ever read was [the original]  Beverly Hills Cop. It was a piece of shit, that script. But the movie is very funny because Eddie Murphy and  Martin Brest  made it funny. And with Bronson Pinchot…that was all improvised. Everything funny in that movie is not in the screenplay, so I thought, ‘Well, we will do that.’ But then I discovered on the first day when I started giving Eddie some shtick, he said, ‘You know, John…Axel Foley is an adult now. He is not a wise ass anymore.’ I believe he was very jealous of  Denzel Washington  and  Wesley Snipes  doing these straight roles. So, with  Beverly Hills Cop III, I had this strange experience where he was very professional, but he just was not funny. I would try to put him in funny situations, and he would find a way to step around them. It is an odd movie. There are things in it I like, but it is an odd movie.”

pinchot - Beverly Hills Cop 3

Co-star Bronson Pinchot corroborated Landis’ assessment of Murphy’s mood while making Beverly Hills Cop III:

Eddie was going through his period at the time of doing movies that were not hits, and he was very low-spirited, low-energy. I said to him, ‘All anyone ever wants to know when they meet me is what you’re like.’ And he said, ‘I bet they don’t ask that anymore.’ And then when we did a scene, we were shooting, and he was so low-energy that John Landis sent him upstairs and said, ‘Just rest, Eddie, and I’ll do the scene with Bronson.’ So whenever you see my face in the movie, I’m not really talking to Eddie, I’m talking to John Landis.

Murphy is an undeniable talent.  When he is on his game, he lights up the screen.  But when he’s bored with a movie, it’s really obvious.  That was one of the reasons for his career slump at the time.  He very visibly was bored with his own movies.  Audiences who showed up expecting to see the Eddie Murphy of old were instead disappointed by an Axel Foley who was going through the motions.

At the time Beverly Hills Cop III was released, Murphy said it was “infinitely better than Beverly Hills Cop II”.  Years later, Murphy changed his mind and called Beverly Hills Cop III “garbage”.  Critics and audiences agreed with latter-day Murphy.  Beverly Hills Cop III flopped.  It opened in third place at the box office and quickly disappeared from theaters.  For a long time after that, there was absolutely no demand for any more Beverly Hills Cop.

But since everything old is new again, there have been efforts to revive the series.  Murphy was attached to a fourth film recently, but he didn’t like the script.  He filmed a pilot for a TV show.  But the show would have starred Brandon T. Jackson as Murphy’s son who followed his father into law enforcement.  Unfortunately, CBS thought audiences would only accept the show if Murphy was in every episode.  So the show wasn’t picked up.  Today, the status of the Cop franchise is unknown.  Murphy is the franchise and he doesn’t seem especially interested in continuing.

Let’s break this down:

How many movies in the series? 3

How many of them were good? 1

Health of the franchise before it died? Asleep

Likelihood of a reboot? If it doesn’t happen, it won’t be for lack of trying

Any redeeming value?  Do you have insomnia?

More Franchise Killers

 

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Posted on September 25, 2015, in Franchise Killers, Movies, sequels and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 66 Comments.

  1. Yeah, I viewed this film much later after its release, on HBO (I want to say 2003). I only found the sequel mildly interesting, and Part III didn’t do anything for me at all. I think I only viewed it because it was on and I could say I’ve viewed all three “Beverly Hills Cop” films. I just found it tedious and bland.

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    • You weren’t the only one. The people making the movie found it tedious and bland too. Which is never a good sign.

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    • ANDDDD here comes old RB with the counterpoint. I actually liked BHC3, although, I do have to acknowledge, it certainly isn’t as good as the others. But I wouldn’t call it bad and I’ve seen it several times since the theatrical release, we have the DVD set at home, so the second generation also developed a lasting appreciation. And as you’ve noticed, Lebeau, I’m pretty loyal.
      Fascinating backstory about all the trials and tribulations between comedy giants Murphy and Landis. Don’t you just want to step into a Delorean and find these guys and knock their heads together, yelling “CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG!?” to them?
      But again, despite whatever behind the scenes difficulties, they did produce a movie, and I will watch it again. I can’t agree that it’s a franchise killer, I think of it as a franchise resolver, or a franchise completion. It’s a trilogy: Sometimes it’s better to let a trilogy stay a trilogy, forget about part 4 or the protagonist’s son. Just let it be.

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      • My plan is to differentiate between true franchise resolvers and franchise killers. But that can be a bit challenging because the studios will always intend to carry on the series if there is a way to do so. To avoid the Franchise Killer label, there has to be a very serious intent to create a final chapter. That was not the case with the stand-alone entry, BHC3. It wasn’t the end of anything. It was just another one of Axel Foley’s adventures.

        I’m still figuring out for myself what exactly constitutes a “Franchise Killer”. For example, Return of the Jedi was intended to end that story. It didn’t kill Star Wars. It brought it to a close as planned. The Beverly Hills Cop series was never planned as a trilogy. It just ended up encompassing three movies because that’s where the franchise died. If the movie had performed as well at the box office as the first two, you can bet BHC4 would have followed shortly thereafter. Intention has a lot to do with it.

        I’ll give you another example. I’ve been looking at the Spider-man movies. Amazing Spider-man 2 is a franchise killer for sure. Yes, there are going to be more Spider-man movies at some point in the future. But Sony had grand plans for a cinematic Spider-man universe which came to a grinding halt when ASM2 bombed.

        But what about Spider-man 3? Was it a franchise killer? It was intended to be Raimi’s final movie. But it wasn’t necessarily intended to be the last for Maguire. A reboot wasn’t a foregone conclusion and in fact Spider-man 4 was seriously considered. But the reason Spider-man 4 didn’t happen has less to do with the performance of Spider-man 3 and more to do with Raimi and Sony being unable to agree on what it should have been. So I’m up in the air on that one. I have seen it referred to as a franchise killer, but I’m not sure it is.

        We’re probably going to get into some grey area where the definition as this series continues. I mentioned in Jeff’s Looney Tunes entry that Back in Action could be seen as a movie that was supposed to launch a franchise but didn’t. Some times, it’s really hard to differentiate.

        As for Landis and Murphy, yeah, you’d like them to get along. But I look at what both men were going through and I can see where things would get tense. Murphy was on a meteoric rise to fame and fortune overnight. And Landis was dealing with a soul-crushing tragedy for which he was at least partially responsible.

        Fortunately, they have put the past where it belongs which is the mature thing to do. So good for them.

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  2. Yeah, I’m glad you stated that Landis did bear some responsibility for the tragedy. And he would be something less than human if it didn’t affect him.

    As far as the clash of opinions between he and EM on the role of Axel in BHC3, I think there is merit to what both are saying and it comes across on screen. Sure Landis would want to re-create the zany side of Murphy that stole the show in the first BHC. I don’t blame him for trying to do what worked. But I also think Murphy has a point in that Axel is 10 years older, and so he mellowed the part accordingly. It worked for me. (Frankly I think he was trying to work in the more “serious” effect in the 2nd movie too). Unfortunately, for the majority of the audience, it came across the same way as it did for you – that he was phoning it in.

    I also have to give you credit. Slow as I am… until I discovered this blog and read several of your columns, I didn’t even have a frame of reference for the concept of “phoning in” a movie performance. And I still don’t see it even one out of the ten times you do. But I’ve learned a bit.

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    • In fairness, whether or not an actor is “phoning it in” is debatable. Murphy will deny ever having “phoned it in”. I think most actors would. But I think it’s pretty obvious his heart wasn’t in BHC3. Nor was it in the 48 Hours sequel. He expected to be doing more interesting things at that point in his career and was frustrated to be revisiting his old hits. Totally understandable reaction on his part, but it didn’t make for the best movies.

      I can see why Murphy would argue for a more mature Axel Foley. Here’s the thing. No one wants to see a more mature Axel Foley. The point of making a sequel to Beverly Hills Cop is to give the audience more of what they liked the first time. That means the old school “banana in the tail pipe” Murphy humor. Audiences wanted to see the old Murphy. The charismatic trickster/motor-mouth. If you’re not giving the audience what they want, there’s no point making the movie.

      I suspect that Murphy’s whole “Axel is more mature” argument was half-hearted. He knew what needed to be done to make the movie a hit. He just didn’t want to do it. What he was really saying is “I’m more mature now”. And by all accounts, he was in a funk at the time. Thankfully, he got energized again for The Nutty Professor two years later.

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  3. LOL… yeah, he sure did get energized…. Nutty Prof, not a favorite of mine but I was able to watch some of it on TV during some laundry folding. He was definitely energized 🙂
    For me, a striking example of “phoning it in” was the TV movie you reminded me about, which I then found on Youtube and watched: Cousin Eddie’s Island adventure. Otherwise known as Christmas Vacation 2. It just hit me like a brick that the lead performances seemed oddly lackluster. Had to think about why I felt that way. There was certainly enough talent surrounding the project, and even an appearance from Eric Idle!
    Matty Simmons wrote and produced. Dana Barron as grown-up Audrey and the kid who played Eddie’s youngest son, “Third”, both sparkled. It was just so noticeable that the kids provided all the screen presence, there is something wrong with a movie that rests on the backs of the youngest performers. But it’s more than that, it’s that the lead roles, Eddie and Katherine, played by the amazing talented character actors Randy Quaid and Miriam Flynn, seemed like shells of their former screen selves. Randy had moments were he was trying but mostly the effect made me a little sad. No doubt the production suffered from being very low budget. Even scenes that should have been funny seemed flat – camera work often didn’t help – but I thought that maybe, just maybe, Randy and Miriam missed having Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo there. Without that chemistry maybe it wasn’t as much fun to make the movie. Whatever the reason, that to me was a seminal example of someone not really way of contrast, I am perfectly OK with the portrayal of Axel in BHC3.

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    • The Nutty Professor isn’t a favorite of mine, either. But I did enjoy it the first time through. You could just tell that for the first time in a long time, Murphy liked what he was doing. And you can see why. Buddy Love was basically a parody of Murphy’s old image. He could go big without feeling like he was just doing the same old shtick. Then the rest of the movie he gets to hide behind layers of make-up (a crutch he became too reliant on) and even show a little vulnerability.

      I haven’t seen Christmas Vacation 2 and I don’t have any desire to do so. But I have read some interviews with Dana Barron and she seemed positively thrilled to be reprising her role. That kind of thing shows through. Quaid was probably worried about some crazy conspiracy or something.

      I did catch up with the 2015 Vacation. The credits were by far my favorite part of the movie.

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  4. I see a couple of words got left out of my sentence, a seminal example of someone not really being there, i.e. phoning it in. I’ll blame it on the computer.
    As for your comment on Vacation… Lebeau, come on!!!! Really??

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    • We talked about how comedy was subjective in the comments section for your review of the movie. I remember laughing once. And it was a dumb joke. When Christina Applegate wiped out on the obstacle course, it got a laugh out of me and I felt bad afterwards. I could have just watched Wipe Out instead. Almost every joke landed with a thud. I do give the cast credit for giving it their all. But the script didn’t do them any favors. Anything that involved the mean little brother was painfully unfunny. And that subplot was a pretty substantial part of the movies brief 90-minute runtime. I found myself wishing that Rusty hadn’t had any kids. Maybe Helms and Applegate could have had more fun on their own.

      I did like hearing Holiday Road and some of the vacation picture reveals were funny. So, yay credits!

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  5. I just watched the movie trailer to the original Beverly Hills Cop to remind myself again of how much I love the original film, easily among my favorite 80’s movies. My gosh, Eddie Murphy was on fire in those early years, especially here. No wonder BHC was the biggest box office hit of 1984. I could watch it anytime and know I’m in for a solid two hours of entertainment.

    BHC2 wasn’t a classic like the first one, but I still think it was enjoyable, like you said Lebeau as far as 80’s action comedies go it was still better than most, I could still watch it and get a few good chuckles out of it. The 3rd one though is a stinker. Sorry RB, I respect that you find some enjoyment out of it, I wish I could feel the same way since I adore the first one so much, but I only saw it one time and due to it being so lackluster and it leaving a bad taste in my mouth I just never bothered to watch it again. I really missed Ronny Cox and John Ashton’s presence quite a bit in part 3. Judge Reinhold and John Ashton in particular worked so well with each other in the previous 2 films that i really missed their comedic pairing in the third film.

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    • UNFINISHED BUSINESS with Jeff Gallashaw: THE BEVERLY HILLS COP TRILOGY!

      Jeff has an absorbing, highly intellectualized conversation with special guest ANDRE JOSEPH (film maker, blogger and founder of AJ EPYX PRODUCTIONS) on the BEVERLY HILLS COP flicks. The heat is on, mofos!

      Bad Movie Beatdown: Beverly Hills Cop III

      Film Brain discovers the heat isn’t on in this tepid third installment of the franchise. Season 1, Episode 7.

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      • Misunderstood Masterpieces 9.23.08: Beverly Hills Cop III:
        http://www.411mania.com/movies/columns/85878/Misunderstood-Masterpieces-9.23.08:-Beverly-Hills-Cop-III-.htm

        In the ’80s, few stars were brighter or more successful than Saturday Night Live alumnus Eddie Murphy. After leaving the storied sketch-comedy show for the bright lights of Hollywood, Murphy scored a string of hits that would make any established movie star jealous. Beginning with 48 Hours — released while Murphy was still on SNL, his dance card features far more success than failure, with some classic films such as Trading Places, Eddie Murphy Raw, and Coming to America as well as modest hits like The Golden Child. Interspersed among these films, as well, were two films from, perhaps, one of the most successful franchises of the era: Beverly Hills Cop and Beverly Hills Cop II. Featuring the wacky adventures of fish-out-of-water Detroit cop Axel Foley as he solves crimes in posh Beverly Hills, the two Beverly Hills Cop films were two of the biggest hits of the decade.

        Unfortunately for Murphy, as the decade waned, so did his film career, as he starred in missteps like Harlem Nights, Another 48 Hrs., and The Distinguished Gentleman, only garnering a modest hit with the romantic comedy Boomerang during this time. Perhaps in order to regain the good graces of the film-going audience, Murphy elected to return to the one franchise that made him a bankable star in Hollywood, so, in 1994, Beverly Hills Cop III was released. Unwisely, however, Murphy – or the producers – decided to tap a new writer with no experience on the previous two films to pen this installment . . . and they chose longtime Hollywood scribe Steven E. de Souza. Though de Souza’s name may not have been mentioned here often, his previous works should be all too familiar to regular followers of Misunderstood Masterpieces: Commando, Die Hard 2, and the reprehensible Street Fighter, among others. So, with that pedigree behind him, de Souza may have defaulted his way into the Misunderstood Masterpieces Hall of Fame, but Beverly Hills Cop III still needs to weather my scrutiny. Will it hold up? Let’s find out!

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    • If you compare BHCII to the original, it comes up short. Compare it to most other action-comedies of the time and it fares a lot better. The original is the only one I watch with any regularity. But the sequel is okay for what it is. The third one, they figured the name alone would help them turn a profit. Then they showed up on the set and realized their star was going through the motions.

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    • BLOCKBUSTER: Beverly Hills Cop II (1987):
      http://mumbyatthemovies.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/blockbuster-beverly-hills-cop-ii-1987.html

      Posted on 00:42 by Daniel Mumby

      Beverly Hills Cop II (USA, 1987)
      Directed by Tony Scott
      Starring Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Jürgen Prochnow

      When it comes to making sequels, the standard approach in Hollywood is to offer more of the same. Sometimes this is just a case of retaining the same actors, writer or director, but a lot of the time there is a conscious effort not only to match the spirit of the original, but its story too. There are exceptions to this rule like any other, but for every sequel that attempts a break (like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) there’s at least a dozen which just copy their predecessor (such as The Hangover Part II).

      Beverly Hills Cop II is perhaps the most blatant example of ‘more of the same’ in the whole of the 1980s. If the original film was Simpson and Bruckheimer at their simplest, this is them at their most lazy and cynical. Everything that can be recycled is recycled, so that beat for beat and plot point for plot point, there is almost nothing between the two films. But throw in bigger explosions, more sleaze and flashier direction from Tony Scott, and you end up with a film that is not just boring, but aggressively boring.

      As with the first film, it’s not as though the plot of BHC II was entirely without potential. Many of its props or character arcs are well-worn staples of each crime thrillers or procedural dramas, and with so many of them around you’d think at least one of them would serve as a springboard into something interesting. The Pink Panther series began with a monogrammed glove and went off in several unexpected directions, and considering the budget involved you’d think they would work hard to justify having these conventions.

      But just like the original, the plot we get is simultaneously asinine and convoluted – only now it comes with added contempt for the audience. The central heist plot has enough twists and turns to give Heat a run for its money, but all the essential details are either mentioned and then thrown aside or explained in such idiotic detail that they may have well not have bothered. None of the props, costumes, sets or music cues are in anyway bespoke to the story or situation; the screen is simply full of stuff, and more keeps being added to hide the fact that the story isn’t being told very well.

      Much of this stems from the fact that the story is essentially a series of improvisations by Eddie Murphy. While Martin Brest knew the original screenplay wasn’t great and allowed Murphy to improvise in the hope of correcting this, Murphy had a hand in the original screenplay for BHC II. In each case it feels like an acting exercise, in which Tony Scott gives his actors a start point and end point, turns on the camera and waits for Murphy to do something funny. Sometimes he hits the mark, but even when he does he quickly oversteps because there is no-one reining him in or cutting him off.

      BHC II copies all the major beats from its predecessor, as though the script had been photocopied and then the characters’ names had been altered with felt tip. It takes all of 15 minutes for Axel to get back to Beverly Hills, right after another argument with Todd and another encounter with his inept assistant, this time over a Ferrari. Taggart and Rosewood haven’t changed, save for the latter becoming a gun nut for no good reason – they still spend all their time reluctantly following Axel and hiding from their superiors.

      Axel makes enquiries, which involve him gate-crashing multiple properties, bending the law as he sees fit and compulsively lying even to his seeming friends. Ronny Cox is out of the picture for the most part, but he’s replaced by another loud-mouthed cop, so it makes no difference. We get a scene in a strip club with a series of bad jokes about Taggart, and it all comes to a head in a warehouse shootout.

      Listing these scenes gives a good idea of how repetitive and formulaic the plot is. It’s also incredibly episodic, perhaps resulting from the project originally being intended as a TV series. But being formulaic in and of itself would not be enough to produce a bad film: it would only make it as bad (or good) as the original. What tips BHC II over from an ordinary film to a bad one is a series of mean-spirited additional features, all of which work to the detriment of both the comedy and the action.

      For starters, the film is a lot sleazier than the original. In the first film the strip club scene had something of a point: it was a set-up for one of many jokes about Axel, Rosewood and Taggart trying to cover their tracks with elaborate lies. But this time around far less effort is made to connect the events that transpire in the club to the wider plot. There’s an unfunny gag about Taggart’s (non-)resemblance to former President Gerald Ford, and then the film just stops for longer sections of completely needless nudity.

      It’s not just the strip club scene that’s the problem. Lisa Eilbacher wasn’t dealt a great hand in the first film, but the film at least treated her character with respect, allowing her to be somewhat independent and resourceful. By contrast, Brigitte Nielsen is constantly ogled by the camera, from the opening shot of her skirt as she gets out of the car to the numerous shots of her backside during the robberies. And then there’s the Playboy party, with a very uncomfortable cameo by Hugh Hefner himself. In each case, the film is pitching itself far more aggressively towards horny teenage boys, to the point where it no longer knows or cares what these scenes have to do with the story.

      In his one-star review from 1987, Roger Ebert remarked: “What is comedy? That’s a pretty basic question, I know, but Beverly Hills Cop II never thought to ask it.” For all the room given to Murphy to improvise, and for all the talent of the performers, the film just isn’t funny. Because we can spot all the beats so readily, we’re anticipating the same jokes as there were in the first film, jokes that weren’t all that hilarious the first time round. Having failed to make us laugh at the same joke twice, the film just stands there desperately waiting for us to laugh, and when we don’t it, just throws more stuff at us in the hope that we won’t get bored.

      One of the big reasons why BHC II isn’t funny lies in the character of Axel Foley. In the first film he had an appeal, an interesting quality that made him stand out – namely his tendency to go way above the law and get away with it. But what was a novelty in the first film has mutated into something more obnoxious, with Axel changing from a loose cannon whose ends justified the means to an aggressive, headstrong, utterly unlikeable maverick. Murphy is still charismatic, but it’s a mean-spirited charisma that runs roughshod over his attempts to be charming.

      The performers around Murphy don’t do much better with the material. Judge Reinhold gets a couple of funny badass moments, as the guns become larger and greater in number, but he still spends most of his time staring gormlessly just off screen. John Ashton and Ronny Cox both look secretly ashamed to be on board, which would explain both their muted roles here and their absence from the final film. None of the villains make any real impression, with both Nielsen and Jürgen Prochnow both phoning in their performances. Even Gilbert Gottfried, so often memorable for the wrong reasons, is forgettable in his cameo role.

      In the face of all this narrative and comedic inertia, all that BHC II has to offer is the bigger explosions and slightly higher production values that come from the marginally bigger budget. Just like on Top Gun the year before, Scott is let loose and fills the screen with flashy spectacle and carnage that has little or no emotional weight or consequence. The action scenes are technically competent but they lack any real stakes, and while the stunts are well-choreographed (particularly the car chases) they aren’t memorable in their own right. Tony Scott was always a much weaker visuals artist and storyteller than his brother Ridley, and this film is further proof of that.

      Beverly Hills Cop II is an aggressively tedious sequel which copies the plot of the original and then piles on multiple problems to further dampen the experience. Whatever energy or distinctive quality the original had has largely been lost, resulting in an action comedy that is neither funny nor possessing memorable action. Most of all, it feels completely surplus to requirement, having no real reason to exist and no real desire to justify itself.

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  6. Now here’s some fascinating trivia about Beverly Hills Cop: the film spent an unbelievable 14 weeks at #1 at the box office from late 1984 through early 1985. 14 weeks! According to Box Office Mojo that ranks Beverly Hills Cop third all time, only behind Titanic (15 weeks at #1), and E.T. (the all-time record holder at 16 weeks). It’s probably easily forgotten now, but Beverly Hills Cop was huge in the mid 80’s, it was even among the top 10 blockbusters of all time back then, having once ranked as high as #6 on the all-time box office chart. Interesting trivia, eh?

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    • That is interesting trivia, especially considering that both “E.T.” and “Titanic” were pop culture phenomenons, and it demonstrates that “Beverly Hills Cop” was one as well.
      I never really thought about this before, but Lebeau mentioned that the “Beverly Hills Cop” series was never meant to be a trilogy as some other franchises are, but would have continued with sequels if the 3rd film wasn’t poorly received. I thought of another action comedy that continued after its third film, and that’s “Lethal Weapon”. Personally, I think the first film is a classic, the second one really measures up (it also adds more to the Martin Riggs backstory), and the third is watchable (though getting overstuffed). Speaking of overstuffed, “Lethal Weapon 4” just has too many characters. But I will say this: at least the participants were game.
      I guess that’s the ultimate point about the “Beverly Hills Cop” series, is that no one’s heart was really in it anymore, and the studio stopped caring once it was determined that more sequels weren’t going to make a healthy profit.

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    • That was back in the days when an R rated movie could do that kind of thing. When I saw it, it was very late in the movie’s theatrical run. My dad eventually took us after my uncle convinced him it would do any harm. By the time we saw it, the theater was empty.

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      • I did some research on Box Office Mojo and found another extraordinary box office result: Beverly Hills Cop spent an astounding 28 weeks in the weekly Box Office Top 10, which means having been released in early December of ’84, Beverly Hill Cop was still among the weekly box office Top 10 all the way into mid-June of 1985! Here the summer ’85 flicks were already in release and a film from last December was still among the weekly Top 10! Wow, that is crazy, isn’t it? That is some serious legs.

        To put that in perspective, Titanic, which I think we all remember as being this colossal pop cultural phenomenon at the time, spent 26 weeks in the Top 10. Matter of fact again using Box Office Mojo as a source here only one film has ever spent more weeks in the Top 10 than Beverly Hills Cop, that being E.T. The Extraterrestrial, which spent an astounding 44 weeks in the weekly Top 10 from June 1982 until late spring of 1983. I knew BHC was a huge hit back then, but I didn’t realized what insane legs the film had at the box office at the time. Sorry for going a bit overboard here, but I just love statistics like this.

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        • Any thoughts on those Beverly Hills Cop box office statistics?

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        • They are very impressive especially for an R-rated movie. You just don’t see that sort of thing anymore. The studios killed the long theatrical run so they could keep more of the profit for themselves.

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        • That’s an especially interesting point: Beverly Hills Cop was in the weekly box office Top 10 for 28 weeks, even though it was an R rated film. You’re right though, we live in a different world now where a film lasting in theatres domestically for over six months is inconceivable now, even for a massive blockbuster. Typically now even a huge hit like Avengers of Furious 7 sees a home video release within 3 to 5 months from theatrical release, due to huge up-front demand. I don’t think anything will ever touch Beverly Hills Cop or E.T.’s leggy box office records in our lifetimes.

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        • I’m willing to say that longer theatrical runs are gone forever. If anything, they will get shorter and shorter. I’m not sure movie theaters will ever fully do the way of the doodoo. But they do seem to be becoming the domain of bug budget movies while more and more low and modest budget films are headed direct to video. We already have movies that received very limited runs while debuting at the same time VOD. I expect that to become more common in the future.

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        • Not having long theatrical runs anymore is one of those rare things that I understand why that has changed: it’s sort of like how back in the day newly released VHS/BETA films cost anywhere from 80-120$. Technology got better, home entertainment players became cheaper (I mean, don’t kids selling the quarter lemonade give away DVD players with a purchase nowadays?), so the actual entertainment is more assessible. I still think it was pretty cool how some films had this massive staying power in theaters.

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        • It was cool. A hit movie would play in theaters for 6 months to a year and then get rereleased the following year. The window for theatrical releases is so short now, it’s very easy to stay at home and wait for most movies to hit video.

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        • I remember back in 2003 when the highly anticipated sequel to The Matrix, The Matrix: Reloaded released and earned $281 Million domestically, the film made news at the time because it had broken the box office record held by Beverly Hills Cop (at $234M) as the highest-grossing R rated film of all time. I remember thinking at the time, wow when we see box office records crumble all the time nowadays, it really took almost 20 years for that record to be broken?

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        • Yep. Here’s the current top 5. BHC is #6.

          1 27 The Passion of the Christ NM $370,782,930 2004^
          2 32 American Sniper WB $350,126,372 2014
          3 69 The Matrix Reloaded WB $281,576,461 2003
          4 72 The Hangover WB $277,322,503 2009
          5 88 The Hangover Part II WB $254,464,305 2011

          Adjusted for inflation, here’s the top 5:

          1 The Exorcist WB $865,919,800 1973^
          2 The Godfather Par. $659,843,500 1972^
          3 Beverly Hills Cop Par. $563,388,700 1984
          4 Blazing Saddles WB $530,478,800 1974^
          5 Passion of the Christ NM $500,258,300 2004^

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        • Those are some insane numbers, particularly the adjusted for inflation ones. If you could adjust Beverly Hills Cop’s box office for inflation, at $563M domestically, it would currently be the 5th biggest film of all time, just ahead of The Dark Knight. Interestingly, in 1985 Beverly Hills Cop ranked 6th on the all-time box office list so it goes to show that those adjusted numbers are fairly accurate.

          Side thought: in this day and age could you imagine any comedy, or any film driven by one stars’ magnetic comedic chops, let alone any film not doused heavily in CGI special effects earning that much money nowadays? If released today with those results Eddie Murphy would easily be one of the biggest movie stars in the world right now. Oh, wait, Eddie Murphy was one of the biggest stars on the planet in 1985. (Wink).

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        • in this day and age could you imagine any comedy, or any film driven by one stars’ magnetic comedic chops, let alone any film not doused heavily in CGI special effects earning that much money nowadays?

          Well, American Sniper was the #1 film in domestic box office for 2014, but it’s a very unusual exception. Before that I think you have to go back to 1998 and Saving Private Ryan to find a #1 film that isn’t either a CGI/spfx driven action extravaganza or an animated film.

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        • 11 Movies That Killed A Franchise:
          http://whatculture.com/film/11-movies-that-killed-a-franchise.php/7

          Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)

          Beverly Hills Cop was a cinematic breakout for star Eddie Murphy, with the first film earning $316m against a $15 budget (and an 83% Tomatometer), while the sequel also did well, making $299 against a $20m budget (albeit with a much lower 46% Tomatometer). It was the third film that was released seven years later, then, that damaged the franchise seemingly beyond repair, as several attempts to wade through the mess left in its wake have proven fruitless, and to be honest, it sounds like nobody can be arsed after the calamity that was Beverly Hills Cop III. The most glaring problem with the third film is that series regulars John Ashton, Ronny Cox and Paul Reiser did not return, nor did series producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. While Murphy is – moreover, was – a fine comic talent on his own merits, the film’s screenplay tended more towards the silly and campy rather than the R-rated moxy that is better suited to his comic sensibility.

          Murphy’s co-star, Bronson Pinchot, claimed that Murphy seemed depressed and had low spirits during filmmaking, despondent that he was no longer making many successful films. Murphy later would comment that the third film was “atrocious”, and that he saw the character of Axel Foley as “banished” from Hollywood for some time, and true to Murphy’s words, the film earned a Razzie nomination for director John Landis, and secondly, we haven’t seen Axel Foley ever since. However, in recent years Murphy has teamed with Brett Ratner to try and get a fourth film kickstarted, with numerous scripts floating around, promoting an “edgier” take that would hew closer to the R-rated tone of the original film. However, recent interviews suggest that the film has stalled once again, and Murphy is now shopping around a TV show based on a premise following his son, with Axel appearing periodically in cameo form.

          We won’t hold our breath. And if you’ve made your way through Beverly Hills Cop III, neither should you.

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    • I think Box Office Mojo’s detailed (e.g., weekly, weekend, etc.) numbers only go back to 1982, so they don’t have any info on how long, for instance, Star Wars or other big hits from further back in the past were #1 at the box office. But it’s still a pretty impressive feat for BHC.

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      • Unfortunately I noticed that too Jestak, Box Office Mojo’s statistics only go back to 1982. From what I’ve read on various box office-related sites once you go back to the 1970’s and earlier decades, stats become less reliable/harder to come by. Movie studios didn’t release box office figures to the public back then like they do now, it just wasn’t something people paid attention to or even cared about. Maybe people heard Jaws or Star Wars became the biggest box office hit of all time, but people weren’t familiar with box office results or what film placed #1 this week. Those kind of statistics were for sports nuts, not moviegoers. The first time I ever became aware of weekend box office results was back when Entertainment Tonight began airing in the early 80’s, and they would show the top 5 movies of the week, and their box office results. I thought, how cool! Later, I would see weekend box office results in newspapers, and now the internet.

        I’ve looked and looked but have been unable to find accurate info on how many weeks Star Wars spent at #1. From what I’ve read Star Wars basically ruled the year of 1977 as numerous films that were anticipated to succeed failed miserably (The Scorcerer, The Other Side of Midnight, etc.) while Star Wars became the runaway blockbuster that everybody and their grandmother had to see that year. Multiple times. I almost expect that Star Wars probably spent more than 16 weeks at #1 in its first theatrical run…. but I cannot confirm that.

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  7. in this day and age could you imagine any comedy, or any film driven by one stars’ magnetic comedic chops, let alone any film not doused heavily in CGI special effects earning that much money nowadays?

    I’m always fascinated that movies like “Three Men and a Baby” and “Rain Man” were the respective #1 box office hits back to back (1987 and 1988 respectively), despite not being action-oriented/effects heavy, ready-made summer blockbusters (especially post-“Star Wars”/”Indiana Jones”).

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  8. Beverly Hills Cop III:
    http://forum.earwolf.com/topic/22741-beverly-hills-cop-iii/page__view__findpost__p__146688

    What does it look like when Bevery Hill Cop stops trying at comedy to take a shot a being a gritty action film, but succeeds at neither: Beverly Hills Cop III.

    Beverly Hills Cop III takes place in a massive amusement park you did know was hidden right in the middle of Beverly Hills. The filming location is mostly an Great America in Santa Clara, but what bit shot on the Universal Studios tour ride will be sure to take you out of the moment. Some things not to look forward to in this razzy-nominated film:

    A much darker Axel Foley – Eddie Murphy struck me as much more vulgar and violent in this film
    No John Taggart – John Ashton is not in this film, he is replaced by Hector Elizondo who “heard about Axel Foley” and is instantly trusting of him – a departure from initial impressions in the first film
    Characters aren’t villains, they’re just incompetent – When Elizondo’s character is supposed to arrange a meeting for Axel Foley at the theme park, but fails to follow through violence including a chase with guns follows. It could have been written as no double cross, but it wasn’t, Elizondo’s character just seems to have forgot and it is never addressed
    Lots of just weirdness – remember Serge the flamboyant gallery employee from the first movie, well he’s back in number three and now he’s an arms dealer

    There’s more awfulness to be seen. You can catch it on Netflix now and I think Amazon Prime Instant Video.

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    • REALLY RUBBISH: Beverly Hills Cop III (1994):
      http://mumbyatthemovies.blogspot.com/2013/09/really-rubbish-beverly-hills-cop-iii.html

      Posted on 01:33 by Daniel Mumby

      Beverly Hills Cop III (USA, 1994)
      Directed by John Landis
      Starring Eddie Murphy, Timothy Carhart, Judge Reinhold, Héctor Elizondo

      I’ve spoken at grat length in my film reviews about the disappointing nature of threequels. Most of the time the disappointment comes from the first film or two films being really good and the third one falling short – but with Beverly Hills Cop the bar wasn’t all that high to begin with. Nonetheless, Beverly Hills Cop III is the weakest instalment in the trilogy, with both John Landis and Eddie Murphy on autopilot and neither really wanting to be there.

      As a film enthusiast, you’re always looking to find the best in any given film. If a film is not great, you praise the bits that are good. If none of it is good, you argue that it’s not memorably bad. If it is memorably bad, you put the case that it’s so-bad-it’s-good. And if it’s offensively terrible (or terribly offensive), you try and argue that such offense could have some perverse cultural value. From this point of view the hardest films to defend – and the hardest to review – are those which are bad in a boring way, and Beverly Hills Cop III is a very bad, very boring film.

      Considering how much I have criticised Simpson and Bruckheimer, it is ironic that the emptiest film in the series should be the one in which they had the least involvement. The high-concept duo left the project in the late-1980s, feeling that the story (as it was then) was too similar to that of Ridley Scott’s thriller Black Rain. By the time Steven E. de Souza came on board, the film was being pitched as “Die Hard in a theme park”, which was itself watered down as the budget was cut and Joel Silver jumped ship. The inertia that dogged the film’s production is all too evident on screen, with both director and cast having a load of props but no idea how or why they should use them.

      You could make the observation at this point that the Beverly Hills Cop trilogy is one of progressive narrative disengagement. The first film had good potential in its plot and a decent comic conceit, but it never really made the most of either and came out a little undercooked. BHC II rehashed the plot but gave even less credit to the audience’s intelligence, resulting in a film that was flashy, asinine and dull. BHC III is arguably the most cynical, since there is no effort put into any part of its creative vision: it just sits there unwanted for 100 minutes, boring and depressing us, and then it’s gone.

      Despite its incredibly cynical nature, however, it’s very hard to get angry at BHC III. You want to summon up a ball of rage against it, denounce the system that produced it, or John Landis for directing it, or Eddie Murphy was thinking it was a good script. But there is nothing in the film that could produce such a reaction, no matter how hard we try. Even with the re-emergence of Serge, one of the most annoying and offensive aspects of the first film, this is ultimately too boring and goofy to induce anger.

      There are many bad films that induce anger because they squander great potential – The Millionairess and Atlantis being prime examples. But BHC III has very little potential to start with, and so when that potential isn’t fulfilled upon, it almost plays to our expectations. Both Murphy and Landis’ reputations for quality had taken hits by this juncture, leading us to revise our expectations downwards and hope for something serviceable. When we don’t even get that, the stakes are too low to generate anything more than a mild twinge of disappointment.

      Putting aside the lengthy production problems, much of the failure of BHC III can be blamed on Eddie Murphy. Landis took the gig knowing that the script wasn’t any good, on the grounds that Martin Brest had got around the same problem by letting Murphy improvise. But when Landis tried to feed Murphy shtick or give him room to move, Murphy refused to say the lines or do anything funny. If Bronson Pinchot is to be believed, Murphy was very jealous of the success enjoyed by Wesley Snipes and Denzel Washington in straight roles, and tried to steer away from anything that made Axel Foley a “wiseass” (i.e. pretty much everything). Some of Pinchot’s longer scenes were shot with just Landis, which might explain why so many of the jokes fall flat.

      Because Murphy is so unwilling to play ball, all of the moments in BHC III that could have been funny take on an odd and awkward feeling. The lengthy final set-piece on the Wonderworld rides feels like it was originally written as a big comic finale – perhaps along the lines of The Pink Panther Strikes Again, where every aspect of a building is used to source a joke or generate tension. But with Murphy missing all his cues, the other actors seem unsure of how to play the scenes, and the film increasingly feels like a comedy which is trying to escape itself.

      Throughout the film there are little glimpses of Landis’ comedic pedigree, but all these moments are so out of context that they almost feel like a pastiche. There’s an early musical number, with the car-jackers dancing around to Diana Ross and the Supremes, but that’s surrounded by attempts at serious build-up, including the killing-off of Foley’s boss. The disintegration of Murphy’s car in the ensuing chase might have worked in The Blues Brothers (or the Pink Panther series), but here it feels bizarre and unnecessary. The film continually fails at comedy, either by pulling up short of its punch lines or having no sense of timing.

      At the very least, you would expect Landis to have made more of the theme park setting. Even if the physical or situational comedy fell flat, you could argue that there would be some value in a comedy which tried to poke fun at the corporate paranoia of Disney and the like. But as with its big set-pieces, the more dialogue-driven scenes are void of ambition; the satire is bald if not completely non-existent, and there are episodes of Scooby Doo with greater tension as to the identity of the villain.

      The only other characteristic of BHC III that is becoming of Landis is the abundance of cameos. In my review of Burke & Hare, I praised Landis for his restraint in this regard, only bringing people in for a good knowing laugh – whether it’s Jenny Agutter playing a hammy actress, or Michael Winner going off a cliff in a stagecoach. His use of cameos here is far more akin to Into The Night, with a host of famous film faces turning up for little to no good reason. The most obvious and awkward of these is George Lucas, whom Murphy forces off the ferris wheel just before he saves the children.

      This brings us on nicely (or rather not) to the issue of exploitation. Not only is the film’s satire of the Disney culture incredibly bald, but it often falls into the opposite trap and becomes as blatantly manipulative as the theme parks itself. The entire action scene involving Murphy saving the children is a shameless attempt to engender empathy with his character – empathy that is never justified at any other point before or after. Likewise Theresa Randle’s character gets nothing to do except be put in situations where Axel can save her or hit on her. While she’s by no means the worst example of a damsel in distress in fiction, it’s still a very cheap trick.

      The performances in BHC III are all immensely lacklustre. Murphy sets the tone, looking either bored or frustrated and giving the distinct impression that he has fallen out of love with the character. Judge Reinhold is largely phoning it in, making very little of Billy’s new powers and having no-one to bounce off (both Ronny Cox and John Ashton declined to appear). Timothy Carhart makes the very least of his villain, hitting most of the beats he needs to but not leaving any lasting impression. Even Alan Young, most famous for voicing Scrooge McDuck in DuckTales, doesn’t particularly register: he does the minimum that is required, and then leaves as soon as he can.

      Beverly Hills Cop III is a boring and depressing end to a franchise that barely got off the ground in the first place. With both its star and director working against their strengths and no effort being expended on the script, the film trudges and slumps from one failed joke to the next before eventually collapsing in a sorry heap. Ultimately it’s too boring to get too angry about, but it remains a low point in the careers of all involved.

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      • The first Beverly Hills Cop came out “a little undercooked”? I seriously have to disagree with that.

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        • I don’t exactly disagree. BHC is basically a bad movie that was saved from itself by having the right star and the right director at exactly the right time. You can see the potential for BHC to have been a lousy action movie if Stallone had stuck around. “A little undercooked” isn’t necessarily unfair. But I think the description undersells the fact that the things that work in Beverly Hills Cop completely overshadow the thin script. I don’t consider BHC a masterpiece. But it’s pretty much the gold standard of action-comedies.

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        • The biggest point in BHC’s favor wasn’t the script, which was pretty mediocre actually. The story was fairly predictable. What makes it a classic or close to it, is the direction, performances, characters and attitude.

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        • I agree; those are the elements which makes “Beverly Hills Cop” work.

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        • it’s ironic because Beverly Hills Cop was nominated for exactly one Oscar: Best Original Screenplay. But like everyone else here is saying it’s not the written page that made the film a crowd pleaser, it was the direction, the performances, the soundtrack….. speaking of which how could the Academy have overlooked that killer soundtrack? The Heat Is On could have been nominated for Best Song, or even Neutron Dance for that matter. Best Screenplay seems an odd choice to applaud the film’s success in this case.

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        • I think it all boils down to “We’re not going to fall for the banana in the tailpipe.”

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        • Yeah, it always boils down to that.

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        • It does. But you know the Academy doesn’t read the actual screenplays. The assumption is that what was on screen was written on the page. According to Landis, that wasn’t the case. I find it pretty easy to take him at his word on this. Stallone turned his nose up at the screenplay, so how good could it have been?

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        • It’s pretty odd though, to vote a winner for a screenplay that wasn’t actually read by voters. That’s like someone saying the 2016 Chevy Silverado is the car of the year without actually driving it.

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        • Well, they had seen the movie. They just make assumptions about how much credit to give to the screenplay for what is on the screen.

          Although realistically, a lot of times they haven’t seen the movie. It’s been said a lot of Academy members give their ballots to their assistants to fill out.

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        • As a Chevy Silverado man, I would probably say that the Chevy Silverado WAS the best car of the year.

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        • Now, THAT’S a vote that means something!

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        • Category: This Sucks So Bad … Created on Tuesday, 13 November 2012 14:15 Written by George Rother

          http://www.movieguy247.com/iMovies/index.php/blog/this-sucks-so-bad/977-best-defense

          The key to understanding Best Defense is to note that Eddie Murphy is billed as a “Strategic Guest Star” on the poster. Even though he receives second billing behind Dudley Moore, he’s only on screen for about 12 minutes. Not only that, he NEVER appears in a single scene with Moore or any other member of the lead cast. Why? The advance screening for this movie went so poorly that Paramount quickly shot and edited in Murphy’s scenes. They figured that people would show up if they thought Best Defense was an Eddie Murphy movie. Talk about the old bait-and-switch! Murphy was a hot property at the time with hits like 48 Hrs. and Trading Places under his belt. Audiences went in expecting a hilarious Eddie Murphy comedy; instead, they got an excruciatingly bad Dudley Moore movie. It’s not that Moore himself isn’t funny; he turned in great performances in 10, Arthur and Unfaithfully Yours (I also liked Lovesick). The problem is that Moore isn’t funny in this movie.

          In fact, he made a lot of bad movie choices throughout his career like Wholly Moses, Romantic Comedy, Micki & Maude, Like Father, Like Son, Arthur 2: On the Rocks and Blame It on the Bellboy. Best Defenseranks just one step away from the very bottom of the list (Wholly Moses is the worst!).

          In 1982, inept engineer Wylie Cooper (Moore) is attempting to develop a surface-to-air missile guidance system for a brand new super-tank. The problem is that a part called the “dip-gyro” doesn’t work; it causes something called the WAM to overheat. His failure to make this part work properly is pushing the company (Dynatechnics, Inc.) to the brink of bankruptcy. Everybody hates him, especially his shrewish but hot supervisor Clair (Shaver, The Color of Money). He gets no respect at home either; his bitchy wife Laura (Capshaw, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) doesn’t even want to have sex with him. One night, he encounters a very strange man (Noonan, Manhunter) at a bar who’s going on about all sorts of wild conspiracy theories. When Wylie isn’t looking, the man slips a computer disc in his briefcase. The disc contains schematics for a working dip-gyro. One of his colleagues sees it and assumes that Wylie finally fixed the problem with the part. He reluctantly takes credit for the other guy’s work and becomes everybody’s hero. Of course, this leads to a whole bunch of new problems. Namely, a psychotic international spy (Rasche, Sledge Hammer) wants to get his hands on the dip-gyro in the worst way. Also, it turns out that the part might not work as well as everybody thought it did. If Wylie doesn’t correct the problem in time, it could have dire consequences for whoever is operating the super-tank. That’s where Murphy comes into the picture. His character, Lt. Landry, is the tank commander taking the vehicle for its first test run in Kuwait in 1984. The test is not going well at all; the tank is literally falling apart. Then, Landry and his two-man crew find themselves in a real battle situation as they must rescue some American soldiers. Will the missile guidance system work or not? That’s the big question.

          I have conflicting feelings about Best Defense. Overall, it’s a really bad movie, but it’s not completely without laughs. It’s funny when Eddie Murphy is on screen; the rest of it sucks big time! It breaks down like this, Murphy’s scenes are scattered throughout the beginning and the end of the picture. He’s absent for a long stretch of the movie and that’s when it’s at its worst. It’s the cinematic equivalent of Waiting for Godot (Waiting for Eddie? Hmmm….). It’s solid proof that Murphy used to be funny; if he can keep this dreadful movie from earning a “NO STARS!!!” rating from Movie Guy 24/7, then he must have a great deal of talent. Let me make something perfectly clear …. Murphy is funny, the movie is NOT! Huyck’s attempts at comedy come off as heavy-handed and clumsy. He’s the same guy who directed the infamous 1986 bomb Howard the Duck (one of my top guilty pleasures!). Between these two titles, it’s easy to understand why he’s never directed another movie. It would be box office suicide on the part of the producers. Thankfully, Huyck had the good sense to just sit back and let Murphy do what he does best. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast does a very poor job. Rasche turns in an extremely embarrassing performance as the whacked-out and violent spy. There are also an alarming number of offensive stereotypes in Best Defense; the Arabs get the worst of it. There’s also a trio of Latin Americans that nearly destroy an FBI sting operation and get Wylie killed. This is really a terrible movie. I didn’t see this one at the movies and it looks like I made a wise choice there. I split the cost of the video rental with my younger brother in January ’85 and I still felt robbed. Thankfully, Murphy redeemed himself with Beverly Hills Cop in December ’84. I think that he’d like to forget that Best Defense ever happened; I’m certain that anybody who has ever watched this feels the exact the same way.

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        • Agreed. When Quentin Tarantino is Oscar nominated for one of his screenplays for Pulp Fiction or Django Unchained, it’s completely understandable; he has a gift for writing characters, story and especially dialogue. Now I think Beverly Hill Cop is a terrific picture but even I think a Best Screenplay Oscar nom was a stretch. This seems a case of the Academy wanting to applaud Beverly Hills Cop in some way, but with an Oscar nom for Murphy out of the question (despite the fact the film lives and dies on his charismatic performance) they probably didn’t know where else to give the film a nod.

          It is interesting that the Academy enjoyed Beverly Hills Cop so much that they went so far as to grant it a coveted Best Original Screenplay nomination, a category usually reserved for more prestigious films…..

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        • My thought on Best Screenplay is that it is usually a way to give a nod to a movie the Academy wouldn’t nominate or give an award to in a more prestigious category. It is frequently where you will see edgier material or more popular fare. It also helps that there are two writing categories so they can nominate more movies.

          I think with BHC, voters assumed that all the funny stuff was in the script which apparently was not the case.

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  9. Murphy was correct in his later assessment of BHC III. It’s garbage.

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  10. I think this is less a case of a franchise-killer, and more a case of a franchise that was allowed to die prematurely through attrition. (Ten years? Seriously? Only the Terminator franchise can manage a hiatus like that). Part III was basically an unsuccessful relaunch, not the egg that killed the golden goose.

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    • It just depends on your POV. I’m using a pretty broad definition of a “franchise killer” for this series. That’s why one of the factors in the summary at the end is “health of the franchise”. Some will be thriving, but more often than not the franchise is on its last leg when one sequel too many puts it out of its misery. The next entry in the series is likely to raise some eyebrows because the character appeared in another movie just a couple years later. But I’m counting that as a new series. You’ll see what I mean when the article posts. But I expect people to challenge me on that one.

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  11. 9 Terrible Franchise Killing Movies

    http://whatculture.com/film-tv/9-terrible-franchise-killing-movies?page=10

    Beverly Hills Cop III

    While 48 Hrs. may have introduced the world to Eddie Murphy, it was Beverly Hills Cop that made them fall in love. There’s rarely been such a perfect melding of actor and part, and Alex Foley instantly made him a movie star. So, of course, a sequel had to happen, and while the second movie was a bit disappointing it still made all of the money.

    The third movie, on the other hand, was DOA, featuring a bizarre premise (Die Hard in a theme park!) and irritatingly smug humor; you gotta love that George Lucas cameo. Even Murphy seemed bemused by the whole thing, and the negative reaction to it saw him running towards family comedies instead.

    Murphy would late denounce the movie as terrible in an interview, and while talk of a fourth movie comes up every few years it never goes anywhere. A pilot for a proposed TV series, which would follow Foley’s son – and have a cameo by Murphy – was shot, but later shelved due to a bad test screening.

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    • Disappointing movie sequels that killed franchises

      http://www.looper.com/13443/disappointing-movie-sequels-killed-franchises/

      Beverly Hills Cop III

      The original Beverly Hills Cop was one of the funniest films of the ’80s, but the law of diminishing returns weighed heavy on its sequels. After striking comedy gold with Eddie Murphy as a fish-out-of-water Detroit cop in sunny L.A., the studio doubled down on action set pieces at the expense of the sharp humor that gave Cop its added kick. The swollen price tag that went along with Murphy’s increased celebrity didn’t help. With 1994’s Beverly Hills Cop III, the franchise completely lost its way, putting Murphy’s Detective Axel Foley in the midst of a convoluted and downright dull amusement park mystery that all the tailpipe bananas in the world couldn’t fix. There have been numerous attempts to put together a Beverly Hills Cop IV over the years, but they’ve all died in development.

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  12. EDDIE MURPHY INTERVIEW FROM THE ’90S: “JOHN LANDIS IS F***ED UP”

    http://prince.org/msg/100/379471

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  13. Beverly Hills Cop 4 is Back On With New Directors

    http://www.denofgeek.com/us/movies/beverly-hills-cop/235279/beverly-hills-cop-4-is-back-on-with-new-directors

    Have you been wondering what Eddie Murphy’s Axel Foley is up to these days? You’ll find out in Beverly Hills Cop 4.

    For a long-delayed sequel, Beverly Hills Cop 4 might make more sense than Goonies 2 or Beetlejuice 2. On the other hand, well…it’s just been an awfully long time since we’ve had to even think about this franchise. Ready or not (like it or not), Axel Foley is coming back to screens, though, and Paramount has chosen two directors.

    Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (Black) will direct Beverly Hills Cop 4, and Eddie Murphy will return as Axel Foley.

    What else do we know? Jerry Bruckheimer is producing, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles scribes Josh Applebaum and Andre Nemec have been working on the script, which reportedly brings Axel Foley back to Detroit.

    Amusingly, this was once set for release on March 25th, 2016 with Bret Ratner as director (back when the project might have been a reboot). Clearly that didn’t happen, and there were reports that Eddie Murphy wasn’t happy with the script. And hey, at least it’s not a reboot, right?

    Paramount is targeting late 2016 or 2017 to start production.

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    • That sounds promising. There have been so many close calls with BHC4, I won’t fully buy into it until cameras start rolling. The article suggests that the script is done and Murphy is on board but doesn’t explicitly state as much. Fingers crossed it works this time.

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    • A New Beverly Hills Cop Film Is Going Into Production This Summer

      https://allthestuffyoucareabout.com/2017/01/14/a-new-beverly-hills-cop-film-is-going-into-production-this-summer/

      Posted by LUCA GUGLIELMI on JANUARY 14, 2017

      The Heat Is On

      A recent posting discovered on casting site myentertainmentworld.com lists a Beverly Hills Cop feature film -sans a number in the title -as shooting this summer, with filming to take place in both Detroit & Los Angeles.

      Development on a fourth film in the franchise has been stuck in “development hell” for a number of years, going through various scripts and directors but never coming to fruition. Following a failed attempt at a TV series on CBS, Paramount announced they were once again moving forward with a fourth film.

      The last news on the film came last summer when Deadline reported that Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah were hired to direct a fourth film based on a script by writers Josh Appelbaum & Andre Nemec.

      The lack of a number in the title of the film (also listed the same way on Production Weekly) implies that Paramount may reboot the franchise without star Eddie Murphy, as a sequel having the same title as the original would be incredibly confusing to general audiences.

      As we hear more we’ll keep you posted…

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  14. I know that I’ve said this before, but John Landis really needs a What the Hell Happened to… article. From roughly, 1978-1985, his run was arguably the fastest and biggest of any modern director. I mean, he had “Animal House”, “The Blues Brothers”, “An American Warewolf in London”, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, “Trading Places”, and “Spies Like Us”.

    And we all know what happened after, in the late ’80s. Lack of quality scripts, Hollywood director jail (the infamous “Twilight Zone” incident that killed Vic Morrow and two young children), a shift from his style of comedy- whatever the reasons, his career pretty much sank. After “Twilight Zone”, they couldn’t give him studio films for several years. He got some smaller off beat films then the “Dream On” series but “Twilight Zone” was really the end and he was never going to have an “A” list career after that.

    Ironically though, even though he had a five year legal bout, Landis was such a bankable director he still had big hits (such as “Coming to America”) for the rest of the ’80s. So one could immediately suggest what killed really Landis’ career was Steven Spielberg cutting him off. Sure, it took awhile for Landis to cool off–he was that hot of a director–but once the ’90s arrived and “Oscar” happened he was finished.

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