The Oscars Will Be Murphy-Less!

Eddie Murphy and Brett Ratner

Hey I love movies, but am really not interested in the Oscars. Is that a mammoth contradiction?

However, my ears certainly perked up with all the news about this years Academy Awards.

It was originally planned that director Brett Ratner would be producing this year’s show and he managed to corral Eddie Murphy as the Oscar host. I suppose the struck up some kind of friendship while working together on their recent film Tower Heist.

However, that’s all over with now. Ratner made some gay comments at a Q and A while promoting his film. He really upset a lot of people, embarrassed the Academy and Ratner quickly resigned from his duties as producer of the show. A day later Eddie Murphy followed suit and bailed out as Oscar host. Now this whole sordid affair will go down as another piece of Oscar trivia, like the streaker and Sacheen Littlefeather. The show must go on, now with a new host. (By the sounds of it Billy Crystal is looking like he’ll be returning. Or at least he’s willing to.)

Honestly, I could care less about Ratner not being part of the show. I was never a big fan of his in the first place and couldn’t see what his talents would bring to an already over-produced, overlong award show. I wasn’t even sure how he got the gig in the first place really. Maybe he’s just a real likable guy.

However, seeing Eddie Murphy host the Oscars – a show that I have pretty much ignored for the last few years – would have gotten me to tune in. Having him there seemed like a real way the show could possibly have some edge to it and maybe it would be the stage to finally witness a funny Eddie Murphy once again. So I was kind of disappointed to read that he quit the show.

Eddie Murphy on Saturday Night Live

Like so many people, I remember Eddie Murphy’s golden years. He was one of the best things on Saturday Night Live during the early eighties. He was so young and talented, when I see clips of him on that show I find it hard to believe he was only eighteen, nineteen years old! To this day my friends and me quote from some of his most famous and hilarious skits and characters from those shows.

Then his film career started and he was the biggest thing ever. 48 Hrs Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop – audiences couldn’t wait for the next Eddie Murphy movie.

I don’t think younger movie fans can appreciate how popular Murphy was during the 1980’s and how beloved he was. His stand up films were some of the funniest routines ever. We all might have had some raised eyebrows when he tried to start a singing career, but as long as he was still funny who cared. There was no reason not to think that Murphy wouldn’t continue to captivate us for years.

Then something happened.

Murphy in Vampire In Brooklyn

As the 80’s were coming to a close so did the spark Murphy had on everyone. His films got less funny. He seemed to begin to take himself too serious. Blander, less funny films – The Distinguished Gentleman, Vampire in Brooklyn, Harlem Nights (which he directed) replaced his great comedy hits. Some of his endeavors were not only bad, but just downright painful to watch.

And he just kept making them.

At a certain point I would have expected him to do a radical turnaround and stop the derailment that his career was taking…..but he didn’t.

The hard funny edged Murphy became the star of insipid family friendly films, Dr. Dolittle, Daddy Day Care, Imagine That. It was kind of tough to watch.

The Adventures of Pluto Nash

It just seemed like his talent was being squandered for no apparent reason. I don’t know why Murphy made the choices he did. Everyone thought he could do so much better, but it didn’t seem like he wanted to. Every actor has a few bombs now and then, but now it looked to be Murphy’s career, even starring in one of the worst cinematic disasters in history – The Adventures of Pluto Nash. Wow, the great Eddie Murphy really nosedived.

I always thought that Murphy, given the right role and right film could have bounced back. I thought once he does the right film audiences will remember why they fell in love with him in the first place. But that film didn’t come. The closest we got was him voicing Donkey in the Shrek films.

Murphy playing two roles in Norbit

Even with his Oscar nominated performance in Dreamgirls in 2006, a role that seemed like the first step to get him back on track with his film choices, he followed it up with the abysmal Norbit.

Like I said when I heard about Murphy as Oscar host I thought there could be some positives to this. Eddie Murphy performing live onstage, maybe we would get some of the same sparks that he gave us back in the day. We’ll get to see some glimpses of the greatness that he once was. Perhaps this was me be overly optimistic, but even if he wasn’t funny at least he’d be trying something different rather than being part of yet another piece of cinematic crap. Maybe hosting the Oscars could be the first step in career resurgence for him.

Now we’ll never know.

Maybe the hysterical, talented Eddie Murphy is gone for good. Maybe he disappeared around the time he agreed to do Another 48 Hrs. I don’t know. It’s just that I can’t help but think that Murphy has a comeback within him – if he really wants it.

His next film (that has been sitting on a shelf for two years) is entitled A Thousand Words, which Murphy reteamed with his director from Norbit and Meet Dave…..

…perhaps that Murphy comeback might not be for awhile….

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