A- Sound C+ Extras A
starring Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Lisa Eilbacher
screenplay by Daniel Petrie Jr.
directed by Martin Brest
by Walter Chaw I used to watch Beverly Hills Cop about once a week in regular rotation with other movies I bootlegged during those first delirious go-rounds with the VCR-connected-to-rented-VCR carousel. It was on an extended-play tape with two other movies (Desert Hearts was one of the others, Re-Animator the third; quite the triple-feature!); back then, quantity beat the ever-loving shit out of quality. (Bless Paramount, by the way, for always being too cheap to encode their VHS tapes with Macrovision.) For me, Beverly Hills Cop was, like its contemporary Ghostbusters, the ne plus ultra of comedy--my eleven-year-old self still a couple of years away from Monty Python--and the requisite throwaway scene in a strip club was enough to be the centrefold in this analog PLAYBOY that, huzzah, I didn't have to hide between the mattress and bedspring. The picture had, truth be told, everything a pre-pubescent boy could want in terms of violence (but not freaky violence), sex (but not freaky sex), nobility (the easy-to-understand kind), and plotting (ditto). The hero was an African-American man I'd never seen on SNL (which was on too late for me to catch) and had likewise never seen in 48Hrs.. He was small and not particularly powerful, but he was lithe and had a quick wit and compelling improvisational skills, and he ably parlayed his minority status in a few scenes that aren't the slightest bit threatening. Eddie Murphy's Axel Foley is, in fact, not entirely unlike cultural brother E.T.--the outsider hero with special abilities who, mission accomplished, can slink off to wherever it is he came from.