Eddie Murphy’s career as a movie star exploded like a comet thanks to 48 Hrs. and Trading Places, which were both his first and second films. For the world to see how funny Murphy was on stage, it had to be Delirious in 1983. Delirious, on the other hand, was a one-off HBO special, so it doesn’t make the cut.
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With a starring role on Saturday Night Live and a slew of hugely successful films, it’s hard to argue that anyone was funnier in the 1980s than Eddie Murphy. Murphy was a major star of the decade. The success of his films continued into the 1990s, but by the end of the decade, he had made some questionable choices and made some really bad movies, and since then, his films have been at best uneven.
Over the course of his nearly four-decade career in show business, Eddie Murphy has appeared in ten of the best films ever released in theaters. The Golden Child and Beverly Hills Cop II were omitted because the list could only contain ten films. In spite of his impressive resume, it’s easy to omit such flops as Daddy Day Care, I Spy, and Showtime from it.
10. Harlem Nights (1989)
Harlem Nights was Eddie Murphy’s first (and only) attempt at directing himself, and critics savaged it. It really took a pounding. I don’t think that’s a fair beating at all. The cast of Harlem Nights includes legends like Red Foxx, Della Reese, Arsenio Hall, Richard Pryor, and, of course, Eddie Murphy himself, all of whom deliver hilarious performances.
Quick Brown, played by Murphy, and Richard Pryor’s Sugar Ray, his mentor and boss, are the focus of the film. It’s a period piece that looks fantastic, thanks to the stunning costumes and sets that are on display. Aside from that, it’s a lot of fun. No matter how much funnier Harlem Nights may not be than Murphy’s prior smashes, it’s still one of the best movies of the year. If you’re still not laughing when Quick shoots Vera’s pinky toe, you may be lacking a sense of humor.
9. Boomerang (1992)
Eddie Murphy’s final film, Boomerang, marked the conclusion of a golden era. In the 1980s, it was the end of his first string of massive successes that made him a superstar. When Boomerang was released in 1993, he was at the peak of his popularity after a successful shift from television to film in the early 1980s. On the other hand, it symbolizes the end of Eddie Murphy’s first era, which began on SNL 13 years earlier.
In Boomerang, as in Harlem Nights, he uses a more subtle approach. Although the film and Eddie Murphy are both more polished and sleek, this film has an incredible level of hilarity. Accompanied by an impressive supporting ensemble, including Martin Lawrence and David Alan Grier as well as a very young Chris Rock, Halle Berry as a rising star. When Robin Givens’ character comes along, Murphy is given a taste of his own medicine as a serial dater with commitment concerns. Murphy shines (nearly literally).
8. The Nutty Professor (1996)
Eddie Murphy returned to filmmaking in The Nutty Professor after a nearly three-year hiatus, and it immediately restored him as a box office gold mine. Eddie Murphy’s career was forever changed by The Nutty Professor, which was a big success with critics and audiences alike. Professor Sherman Klump (Eddie Murphy) plays as the obese, but popular, Buddy Love, who creates a shrinking serum and shrinks down to a normal size. Besides Jada Pinkett as Murphy’s love interest and buddy, the rest of the roles in the film are played by the actor himself. Probably 30 or so.
Eddie Murphy does play most of the Klump family, six different roles in total, for which he received much acclaim. However, this is a bit overblown. For the first time in his career, he had the opportunity to play more than one character in a single film. Choosing that option would not always turn out the way it did in the film The Nutty Professor.
7. Dreamgirls (2006)
In addition to Eddie Murphy’s performance in Dreamgirls, the film received a slew of awards and accolades. Eddie Murphy had a series of terrible movies before to this film, with the exception of the Shrek flicks. In a remarkable change of events, Dreamgirls reversed that trend.
Murphy earned a Golden Globe for his work as Jimmy Early, a debauched R&B singer who has his career ruined before it ever gets started. Actor Murphy was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal, which was the first time in years it had happened. The awards were entirely due to the superb work of Dreamgirls and Eddie Murphy’s portrayal of the title character.
6. 48 Hrs (1982)
For many, this is the beginning of their career. When a police officer (Nolte) is compelled to team up with an ex-con (Murphy) in order to track down an organization responsible for the murder of several officers, the two actors team up for the buddy cop comedy 48 Hours. Eddie Murphy was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role as Reggie Hammond, but the prize for “New Star of the Year” is no longer given.
To think that Eddie Murphy was only 22 years old when this movie came out is incredible. As the sole comic in a weak Saturday Night Live ensemble at the time, he had already established himself as a rising star. The chemistry he shares with Nick Nolte in the film, as well as the film itself, is fantastic. Not only did it launch his career, but 48 Hours is also largely responsible for the emergence of the buddy cop movie subgenre, which went on to inspire films such as Lethal Weapon and Rush Hour. 48 Hrs.
5. Shrek (2001)
Shrek has left an indelible mark on pop culture. It’s become a must-see for kids of all ages. Every age group from 5 to 50 is likely to know the entire thing by heart… and almost certainly does. He hasn’t been this funny since the 1980s, with Shrek being the best Eddie Murphy has been since then. Three successful sequels to the film were produced, in addition to a few TV specials and amusement park rides.
Acting as Donkey, Shrek’s loyal companion who loves boulders and supports Shrek even though Shrek barely tolerates Donkey, Eddie Murphy portrays the voice of Donkey. Many scenes in the movie are dominated by Murphy, who delivers a number of memorable lines. A rare opportunity for a more family-friendly Eddie Murphy to emerge in the latter stages of his acting career. As part of his return to rated R films, he had the opportunity to reprise his role in Shrek, albeit without the use of slurs.
4. Eddie Murphy: Raw (1987)
Eddie Murphy: Raw is the polar opposite of Shrek in terms of Eddie Murphy films. Even though Raw isn’t for the faint of heart, it’s a standup film like no other, delivering some of the greatest 90 minutes of comedy ever seen. Eddie Murphy was at the height of his comedic abilities in Raw.
Yes, it’s blatantly offensive on every level. In 1987, when it was released, it was considered politically wrong; today, some of the gags are just plain offensive. But oh my gosh, they’re hilarious. Which standup acts are made into full-fledged theatrical releases? Not many people were aware of Eddie Murphy at the time, and that indicates exactly how famous he was. In 1987 dollars, it made over $51 million and was deemed good enough for the big screen. Robocop, which was also a big smash in 1987, brought in $53 million at the box office. For a standup comedy concert movie, $51 million is insane!
3. Trading Places (1983)
Eddie Murphy’s role in Trading Places as Billy Ray Valentine (a Capricorn) was ideal for him. In order to play a game of social engineering in which the extremely wealthy Duke brothers turn a homeless man into a successful banker while simultaneously damaging the career and life of another great banker, played by Dan Aykroyd, Valentine was snatched from the streets.
When Eddie Murphy starred in this movie, his star was on fire, and it shows. His performance in Trading Places garnered him a second Golden Globe nomination; however, it doesn’t matter because what it accomplishes best is demonstrate just how consistently hilarious he is from beginning to end. Eddie Murphy, the star of Trading Places, stands head and shoulders above the rest of the cast, which includes such luminaries as Dan Aykroyd and Don Ameche.
2. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Critics wondered if that brightly burning star from Trading Places had gone out after starring alongside Dudley Moore in Best Defense in the summer of 1984. Well, Beverly Hills Cop had already answered that question with a thunderous “no way!” by Christmas of that year. On a $15 million budget, Beverly Hills Cop raked in an incredible $316 million in ticket sales!
There can be little doubt that Eddie Murphy’s role as a Detroit officer who travels to Beverly Hills to investigate his friend’s death in a classic fish-out-of-water narrative in Beverly Hills Cop established him as one of the biggest stars in comedy at the time of its release. It’s a masterpiece that’s already inspired speculations about a fourth film in the series.
1. Coming To America (1988)
Coming to America is at the top of my list for a variety of reasons, but the most important one is that it has become an indisputable classic that has lasted for decades. When it comes to romantic comedies, this is one of the best. If you’ve never seen Eddie Murphy play more than one character before, this is the movie for you.
Arsenio Hall, his co-star, also plays many parts, and the two work wonderfully together. Things like pop-up McDowell’s restaurants and, now, a long-awaited sequel are just two examples of how durable Coming To America’s reputation has only grown over the years. A truly outstanding portrayal of the Eddie Murphy we’ve come to know and love.
So, will Eddie Murphy’s career see a resurgence, and will he return to the comedic roles that made him a household name in the 1980s, now that a slew of sequels and reboots are in the works? We’d like to think so!
This poll has been taken down.
There are no aliens at Area 51 or Elvis is still alive for Hugh Scott, but he does believe birds are real and Meghan Markle is being unfairly portrayed in the press. After finding that stocking shelves in a paper factory in college wasn’t all it was made up to be, he’s been writing about music, movies, and celebrities for the most of his adult life.