An Eddie Murphy Cult Classic Is Blowing Up On Netflix

Life, starring Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence, was a disappointment when it released in 1999 but has found new life on Netflix.

By Sean Thiessen | Updated

eddie murphy beverly hills cop

Once again, an old gem has resurfaced in the Netflix Top Ten. The most recent ranking by FlixPatrol shows the 1999 Eddie Murphy comedy Life hovering near the bottom of the streamer’s movie charts. The cult classic, which pairs Murphy with co-star Martin Lawrence, is a buddy comedy that chronicles the lives of two men in a 1930s Mississippi prison camp who were sentenced to life after being framed for murder.

Directed by the late Ted Demme, Life sputtered when it debuted in 1999. Despite an Academy Award nomination for Best Makeup, Life received meager reviews from critics and the $80 million dollar movie only managed to gather $73 million at the box office. In the years since its release, the film has become a cult classic among fans of Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence, and thanks to Netflix, that audience is expanding.

With the release of Life, Eddie Murphy was coming off the high of 90s hits like Doctor Dolittle (1998), Mulan (1998), and The Nutty Professor (1996). Though Life flopped, box office dominance did not elude Murphy for long; Shrek stormed the castle with $487 million in 2001, and Shrek 2 grossed $928 million just three years after that. Murphy’s film career remained prolific until the early 2010s, but he took a hiatus from filmmaking beginning in 2011 after a series of flops.

Eddie Murphy starred in the 2016 dramedy Mr. Church, but the 2019 film Dolemite Is My Name was heralded by most as Murphy’s big comeback. The Netflix original starred Eddie Murphy as Rudy Ray Moore, the popular Blaxploitation actor that made Dolemite in 1975. He then reprised one of his most famous roles for Prime Video’s Coming 2 America, a sequel to Murphy’s 1988 comedy.

Murphy will be back this January with the Netflix original film You People, alongside Jonah Hill. Netflix will also revive another of Eddie Murphy’s most iconic characters with its upcoming sequel Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley. The film will serve as the fourth installment of the action/comedy franchise, but its release date is not yet known.

eddie murphy martin lawrence life
Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy in Life

Eddie Murphy will be joined in Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley by returning cast members Judge Reinhold, Josh Ashton, and Paul Reiser. Notable newcomers to the franchise include The Dark Knight Rises star Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the legendary Kevin Bacon. The film’s plot is being kept under wraps.

Eddie Murphy’s Life co-star, Martin Lawrence, has Bad Boys 4 in the pipeline to follow up his 2020 reunion with Will Smith. He will also star in a new television series titled Nehma, which follows a man pursuing his dream of stand-up comedy while caring for his children after the tragic death of his wife.

Life was the second team-up for Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence, following their 1992 romantic comedy Boomerang. Despite its bankable stars, Life was a disappointment for Imagine Entertainment and Universal when it was released, but the film has managed to polish its reputation among fans since then. With its resurgence on Netflix, it seems that over 20 years later, the film has indeed found new life.