Tag Archives: Eddie Murphy

We Love the 80s!

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F

by George Wolf

Within the first ten minutes of Netflix’s Axel F, we hear the big hit songs from both Beverly Hills Cop 1 (“The Heat Is On”) and 2 (“Shakedown”). So the promise of 80s nostalgia is made early, and then part 4 in the franchise makes good on that promise for nearly two hours.

Thirty years after the dreadful BHC III, Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) still has the same Detroit Lions jacket, and the same penchant for stirring up trouble.

He also has an estranged daughter named Jane Saunders (Taylor Paige, classing up the joint) who’s a successful defense lawyer in…anyone?…Beverly Hills. And Jane sometimes works with now P.I. Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold), who left the Beverly Hills police force after now Chief Taggart (John Ashton) didn’t have his back on a complicated case.

Jane is defending an accused cop killer that Billy thinks might have been framed. Their work doesn’t sit well with Taggart, or with the Rolex-wearing Captain Grant (Kevin Bacon), head of the new narcotics task force. So when some goons try to scare Jane off the case, Billy feels responsible and….anyone?…calls Axel.

First-time feature director Mark Molloy dutifully rolls out a workmanlike series of recognizable franchise faces (Bronson Pinchot, Paul Reiser) and situations (Axel crashes an exclusive club, Axel startles cops by jumping in the back seat of their cruiser). And while it’s nice to see the addition of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a well meaning cop/ex boyfriend of Jane, little of the script from Will Beall, Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten deviates from the convenient and the predictable.

But is it fun? Yeah, it kinda is.

Murphy seems engaged about the character again (especially during a surprisingly relevant exchange with a parking valet), and the film is perfectly happy to remind you of happier times and take your mind off of Supreme Court decisions.

Come back in the room after feeding the cat: oh, look it’s Serge! Check your phone for minute: there’s a shoot-em-up car crash! You know who the bad guys are, you know fences will be mended, and you know you love the 80s.

Axel F knows you know, and this time, that’s just enough.

You know?

Bad Heir Day

Coming 2 America

by George Wolf

A quip about unnecessary sequels is just one of several “wink-wink” gags you’ll find running throughout Coming 2 America. And though the original was heavy in sexism (even for 1988) and light on LOLs, there’s little doubt that the film’s huge fan base has been anxious for a follow-up.

Eddie Murphy teams again with director Craig Brewer, which is reason for optimism, since Brewer helmed one of Murphy’s career highs – 2019’s Dolemite Is My Name. But screenwriters David Sheffield and Barry Blaustein return from the original film, and while they thankfully update the sexual politics, the humor is again scattershot at best.

Most of the cast is back, including 90 year-old James Earl Jones as King Jaffe of Zamunda. He’s ready to pass the throne to Prince Akeem (Murphy), but is worried that Akeem and Lisa (Shari Headley) only have daughters, and tradition calls for a male heir.

What’s this? The loyal Semmi (Aresenio Hall) has been keeping a very big secret all these years, which means Akeem and Semmi must return to New York to find Akeem’s long lost son.

That would be Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler), who makes the trip to Zamunda for royal training with his mom (Leslie Jones) and uncle (Tracey Morgan) in tow. The additional family is good for Lavelle, and for us, as Jones and Morgan’s “fish out of Queens” antics give the film its most consistently fresh and funny moments.

They’re just aren’t enough of those moments to pump real life into part 2. The girl power is overdue and and love lessons are generic, each as predictable as getting more insults from the barbershop guys and more R&B stylings from Randy Watson.

Buy hey, you go to see Sexual Chocolate, you want to hear the hits. And if you’ve been waiting for Coming 2 America for reminders of what you liked the first time, you’ll get them.

Otherwise, a return trip isn’t necessary.

Say My Name

Dolemite Is My Name

by George Wolf

Can’t you just hear Dolemite now?

“I’m so m*&^@f#$@!^*’ bad they got that m*&^@f#$@! Eddie Murphy to play me in a m*&^@f#$@!^’ movie!”

They did, and Murphy could very well ride it to an Oscar nomination in this brash, funny, and often wildly entertaining look at the birth of a cultural icon.

“Dolemite” was the brainchild of Rudy Ray Moore, who created the character for his standup comedy act in the early 70s. Moore’s raw material was much too adult for record companies at the time, but the success of his early underground comedy albums (sample title: “Eat Out More Often”) finally gave Moore the cheering crowds he longed for – and the urge to take Dolemite to the big screen.

Moore’s string of so-bad-their-good blaxploitation classics not only became important influences in the expanding independent film market, but also for rappers and young comics like Murphy himself.

Screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who penned the scripts for The People vs. Larry Flynt, Ed Wood and Man on the Moon among others, are certainly at home fleshing out the stories behind creative legends, and their script fills Dolemite Is My Name with heart, joy and raunchy laughs.

Director Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan) keeps the pace quick and energetic, crafting a bustling salute to the creative process that never forgets how to be fun.

Two pivotal and very funny scenes bookend the film’s biggest strengths.

Early on, Moore and his crew leave a movie theater dumbfounded by the white audience’s love for a popular feature that had “no titties, no funny and no kung fu!”

Then, during filming of the original Dolemite, Moore doesn’t feel right about his big sex scene until his character’s prowess is pushed to ridiculous levels. We’re laughing, but there’s no doubt we’re laughing with Moore, not at him. And while we’re laughing, we’re learning how Moore took inspiration from the world he lived in, and why he wouldn’t rest until his audience was served.

At the Toronto International Film Festival last month, Murphy said he wanted this film to remind people why they liked him.


Leading a terrific ensemble that includes Craig Robinson, Keegan-Michael Key, Kodi Smit-McPhee and a priceless Wesley Snipes as the “real” actor among these amateurs, Murphy owns every frame. This film wouldn’t work unless we see a separation between Moore and his character. Murphy toes this line with electric charisma, setting up the feels when Moore’s dogged belief in himself is finally rewarded.

Dolemite Is My Name tells a personal story, but it’s one that’s universal to dreamers everywhere.

And it’s also m*&^@f#$@!^* funny, suckas!