Went skiing with a few friends this weekend. Got into a discussion with Greg about the movie “To Be Or Not To Be,” a Mel Brooks flick from the 80s that both of us remember loving.
“It might be terrible,” Greg rightly noted. “But I loved it when I was 12.”
That sentiment is the story of my kid-adult cinema experience. Of all the films I raved about as a tyke, 99 percent—in hindsight—suck. As a boy, I couldn’t wait for the next Police Academy installment. Same went for the three Star Wars films. And Goonies and Goonies II. Mainly, though, I was an enormous Eddie Murphy diehard. If Eddie was starring in a flick, I was going to see it. Hell, I even thought The Golden Child was amazing—and, of course, it was dreadful, times 1,000.
Just a few seconds ago I got up from the couch after watching what was perhaps my favorite movie from the era—Beverly Hills Cop. This was Eddie at his absolute best: Kicking ass, cracking one-liners that would have rendered Benson speechless, making fun of gays and old people, shoving bananas in tailpipes. Were Murphy the king, this was his throne. Beverly! Hills! Cop! Hell, yeah!
Now, however, I have a different take: The film blows.
Seriously, let’s count the ways:
1. Implausable plot, times 1,000. Honestly, I’m still not 100 percent certain what went on here, but it involved drugs, coffee beans and Los Angeles.
2. The bad guys have Murphy, with a gun pointed to his head. They’re in a secluded warehouse and he’s uncovered their diabolical plot. Victor Maitland all but orders his goons to kill Axel Foley. I mean, he literally notes the irony of Foley threatening to kill him (Maitland), when Foley is about to be shot in the head. So what do the thugs do? They punch Foley in the stomach a few times, until Billy Rosewood shows up for the big rescue. We went from “He’s gonna die” to “Let’s sock him!” in mere seconds.
3. Axel’s friend Lisa works as a clerk at an art gallery. She has the key to the warehouse where the drugs are allegedly stashed. Axel, a cop, asks her for the key, and she insists she’s coming with him. So he takes her to the scene of major drug action, where men with guns await. For no good reason. Like, not one moment of sound reasoning.
4. I have no idea what Bronson Pinchot is doing in this film.
5. At the time this film was released, we couldn’t have known about the nonstop Eddie-is-gay rumors, or Murphy being found with a transvestite hooker. But, looking back, this film might have been a cry for help. So many gay references, and all over the top. What was he trying to say?
6. I’m tired. But you get the idea …