It wasn’t just one movie that took down Eddie Murphy. Most actors can take the hit of a stinker or two and where Eddie Murphy was at in his career by the time 2000 rolled around, he looked to be in a comfortable place. That comfort would eventually catch up to the comedian when a series of horrendous movie choices led to horrendous box office returns and critical reviews which then led to Murphy taking a pause, a much longer one than he initially planned.
Eddie Murphy told Marc Maron on his WTF podcast, “I was making shitty movies. I was like, ‘This shit ain’t fun. They’re giving me Razzies…Motherfuckers gave me the ‘worst actor ever’ Razzie. [So I thought], ‘Maybe it’s time to take a break. I was only gonna take a break for a year, then all of a sudden six years go by, and I’m sitting on the couch, and I could sit on the couch and not get off it, but I don’t want to the last bunch of shit they see me do [to be] bullshit. The plan was to go do Dolemite, Saturday Night Live, Coming 2 America, and then do stand-up and see how I felt afterwards. At least then they’ll know I’m [still] funny.”
The Razzies aka The Golden Raspberry Awards, as they sound, is the complete opposite of the Oscar Awards. The Razzies give awards out for the worst movies, the worst actors and actresses and Eddie Murphy was on the Razzie radar. Throughout the decade, Murphy pulled in nine Razzie nominations, winning (or is it losing?) three times. But in 2010, not only was he nominated as Worst Actor, but he also got nominated for Worst Actor of the Decade, which he won. Brutal.
Baby-faced Eddie Murphy first burst onto the screen in 1980 on Saturday Night Live. For four years, Murphy entertained SNL audiences with memorable characters such as Mr. Robinson, Gumby, Buckwheat, Velvet Jones, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, and Clarence Walker, the Fifth Beatle. Halfway through his four-year stint, Murphy tested out the waters in feature films. Again, he was an immediate hit when he appeared as Reggie Hammond in 48 Hrs. opposite Nick Nolte. He immediately followed that up with Trading Places and then became a household name as Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop. Murphy’s success in features allowed him to leave Saturday Night Live in the rearview. He wouldn’t return to SNL for 35 years.
The hits kept coming for Eddie Murphy. The Golden Child, a second Beverly Hills Cop movie, his starring role as Prince Akeem (and a few others) in the first Coming to America, and another turn as Reggie Hammond in Another 48 Hrs. Murphy was box office gold.
Things kept rolling along smoothly for Murphy throughout the ‘90s as he continued his successful run at the box office. There was the hiccup that was Beverly Cops III, but for the most part, Murphy was still Murphy. He has The Nutty Professor remake as well as its sequel. He introduced the world to Doctor Dolittle, not once but twice. He was also Mushu in Mulan and Donkey in Shrek.
But then Murphy lost his edge. Gone were the R-rated movies that made him. The foul-talking star was replaced with the family man and while it worked for a while, the hits began to dry up as Eddie Murphy began to take on more and more family film roles in movies that didn’t go over well with critics or fans alike. He was seen in much such as The Adventures of Pluto Nash (horrible), Daddy Day Care, The Haunted Mansion (guilty pleasure but not well received), Norbit, Meet Dave, and Imagine That. Murphy also had I Spy and Dreamgirls (for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor) during the decade of the 2000s, but they didn’t help. This all came to a head during the 2010 Razzie Awards and caused Eddie Murphy to reassess his career.
During his hiatus from films and TV, Eddie Murphy did appear in the indie film Mr. Church. But Murphy was right to take on Dolemite is My Name. It brought back the Eddie Murphy fans loved, garnering the comedian much-needed and well-deserved critical acclaim. It was felt the actor should have at least received an Oscar nomination (which he didn’t) though he did receive a Golden Globe nomination for his performance. His return after 35 years to Saturday Night Live also received much critical acclaim and ended up being the highest watched episode since 2008. Fans loved his return to his popular characters.
He has since followed that up with the recent release of Coming 2 America, which hasn’t been the hit Murphy and co-star Arsenio Hall were hoping for (perhaps it was the PG-13 rating) but it does show that Eddie Murphy is back (we hope). Next up for him is Triplets, the sequel to the 1988 comedy Twins, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as twin brothers Julius and Vincent. This time they find out that they have another brother, Eddie Murphy. After that, it is heavily rumored that Murphy is going to return to Beverly Hills and Axel Foley for Netflix in Beverly Hills Cop 4. Let’s just hope this one isn’t set at an amusement park. It’s good to have him back though.