Dear Eddie Murphy

Art & Culture



Dear Eddie Murphy
Dear Eddie Murphy,?You're fifty years old, you've been a star for all but twenty of them, and yet your reputation is lower than it's ever been. What is the explanation?
Well it's not that hard to find. Look at the last decade. Apart from the annoying donkey in Shrek (and all its sequels and spinoffs), you have made the following films: Imagine That, Meet Dave, Norbit, The Haunted Mansion, Daddy Day Care, and Pluto Nash. Please see if you can honestly find a good word to say about any of them, and "they made lots of money' doesn't count as a good word.
OK, so you made Dreamgirls in that period, and you get some credit for that, not a lot, but some. But apart from Dreamgirls, what have you done for Cinema since – since, I don't know, Coming To America in 1988? Twenty three years and counting. Judging by the trailer for Tower Heist, this film doesn't look as though it's going to break the jinx. Action/comedy thrillers are the hardest genre to pull off, and your new Best Friend/Director Brett Ratner doesn't have such a great track record himself – apart from putting money in the pockets of studios, of course.
We all still talk fondly of Beverly Hills Cop, Trading Places and 48 Hrs as if they were the norm, from which you have occasionally deviated. But statistics show that you managed a 1,2,3 of zingers in three consecutive years right at the beginning of your career, and have then proceeded to disappoint in a CV heavily reliant on sequels and films in which you dress up in fat suits and/or play multiple characters. And throughout every humiliation and cruddy piece of work, you grin that shit-eating grin, and if necessary, laugh a lot, just so we know we're watching a comedy.
I'd guess that you have contempt for your audience being so easily pleased, and something like self-disgust for being willing to behave like an idiot in order to be paid a lot of money. Maybe you don't care any more – it's hardly unusual among actors who have spent too long in the bowels of Hollywood. But I do, on your behalf. The ability to make people laugh and deserve those laughs, is a rare talent, which was your gift as a young man. The scripts were edgy enough, the brass balls hard and shiny enough, and all you had to do was to keep your eye on quality.
Easy for me to say, I know. But you have so consistently failed to deliver anything worthwhile since mullets first ruled the hairwaves that I can only deduce that quality is the last thing on your mind. I expect you feel that 50 is old, but there's still time to give us a pleasant surprise. No more fart jokes, gags at the expense of overweight women, and a juvenile tendency to dress up in women's clothing. No more family-friendly films, no more Shrek sequels. Just make one good film, and then you can go back to doing what you do worst.

Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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