This just in and boy am I depressed about it: There will be a Beverly Hills Cop Iv. The success of Indy 4, 19 years after Indy 3, has opened up a can of worms, proving that it’s never too late for greedy grubs to chow down hard on Hollywood’s leading endangered species: originality. Yes, my friends, 14 years after Beverly Hillls Cop IIi, Eddie Murphy will again star as Detroit detective Axel Foley, playing a fish out of water in Tinsel Town. WTF? I mean I liked the first Beverly Hills Cop in 1984 as much as the next guy. Murphy damn near exploded on screen. A young Turk on the Detroit force, Murphy’s Axel horned in on Beverly Hills police turf to nose out the killer of his buddy. The movie had heart as well as laughs. The BH cops, dressed like bank tellers with manners to match (“Please put your hands up, Sir”), made a great foil for Murphy’s big-city cool. And director Martin Brest, before Meet Joe Black and Gigli helped kill his career, gave the movie a genuine sense of style. And then what?
By 1987 and Beverly Hills Cop Ii, Murphy had already turned into a slick Hollywood package. He wasn’t acting this time, he was doing standup. And director Tony Scott, fresh from Top Gun, was determined to hardsell the Murphy goods, this time with a misogynist twist. “God, that’s a big bitch,” says Murphy, eyeing Brigitte Nielsens’ six-foot villain. The whole movie left a nasty aftertaste.
Beverly Hills Cop IIi in 1994, directed by a talent exhausted John Landis, is the worst of the lot. Most of the film is set in a theme park in a desperate attempt to be Die Hard in Disneyland since Die Hard writer Steven E. de Souza did the script. But even the special effects — Axel saves kids from falling off a spider ride — are tacky. Murphy shoots bad guys, comes on to a babe (Theresa Randle) and calls a kid a “little muthafucka” to show he hasn’t gone soft. But Murphy is hawking a memory and trying to make us buy it as the genuine article. It’s no sale.
Which leaves us to guess the motivation for Beverly Hills Cop Iv. Could it be that first three BHCS grossed $713 million worldwide? That fact that hack supreme Brett Ratner is negotiating to direct speaks volumes. And Murphy, despite a deserved Oscar nomination for Dreamgirls, and solid comic work in The Nutty Professor, Bowfinger, and as the smartass voice of a donkey in the Shrek trilogy, has been selling out the talent he showed in Cop, 48 Hrs and Trading Places to live the life of a preening fatcat.
So here’s your chance to tell me if and why I’m wrong. Bring it on.