[Happy 30th Birthday!] Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

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Director: Martin Brest

Cast: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton

Screenplay: Daniel Petrie, Jr.

105 mins. Rated R.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

 

Can you already hear the song? I know I can, because thirty years ago today, the world was introduced to Axel F, and alongside it, Beverly Hills Cop, a rollicking good time at the movies that doubles as a pretty taut thriller.

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Beverly Hills Cop boasts one of the best soundtracks in motion picture history as it tells the story of Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy, Trading Places, A Thousand Words), a Detroit cop who just got forced into vacation after a close friend with a troubling past is killed right in his apartment. He decides to take his vacation in Beverly Hills and, along the way, try to solve the murder. Aiding him, whether they like it or not and whether or not they know it, are Beverly Hills’ Detective Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold, The Santa Clause, Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts) and Sargent Taggart (John Ashton, Gone Baby Gone, Middle Men).

Beverly Hills Cop is an early work for major director Martin Brest (Scent of a Woman, Gigli) and boasts some of his craziest attempts at weaving thrilling set pieces with laugh-out-loud, and crazily enough, it works. Murphy is at the top of his game here, absolutely everything he throws at the screen lands perfectly, and he is equally matched by the bumbling (but not over-bumbling) Reinhold and Ashton, a perfect buddy-cop duo if there ever was one.

The screenplay from Daniel Petrie, Jr. (Turner & Hooch, In the Army Now) is a smart and simple one, but never tries too hard to convolute itself. Director Brest is able to work from so many angles here, it is incredible how well it all works together. We believe that Axel Foley is the kind of guy that can weasel his way into the enemy’s office, or into a luxury suite hotel room, or for that matter, evading the arrest and termination of his employment multiple times.

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I have to say that the Beverly Hills Cop grew on me. The first viewing didn’t go as well as I thought it might, but it just sticks with you. The musical work by Harold Faltermeyer and the incredible supporting work from Paul Reiser, Ronny Cox, Steven Berkoff, and Jonathan Banks do not go unnoticed. If you haven’t seen Beverly Hills Cop in its first thirty years, don’t wait another thirty. See it now.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Happy 20th Birthday!] Trapped in Paradise (1994)

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Director: George Gallo

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Jon Lovitz, Dana Carvey

Screenplay: George Gallo

111 mins. Rated PG-13 for some rude language.

 

Christmas is just around the corner, so I thought it fitting to jump into the Christmas spirit by talking about a classic (at least on Comedy Central) that came to screens twenty years ago today. I’m talking about a little black comedy called Trapped in Paradise. It stars Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas, Left Behind) as Bill Firpo, the rightest of the three Firpo brothers, and the only one who can mostly ignore his temptations to commit crimes. His brothers Dave (Jon Lovitz, Happiness, Grown Ups 2) and Alvin (Dana Carvey, Wayne’s World, Jack and Jill) cannot ignore theirs, and are being released from prison due to overcrowding. Bill is begged by his paroled brethren to head to Paradise, Pennsylvania to visit the daughter of an incarcerated friend and ask her to visit her dying father. Bill eventually goes along, and for reason, he is most easily convinced to commit a bank robbery. The bank robbery goes somewhat awry, and the boys are now stuck in the town to a sweltering blizzard hitting town. They must survive being trapped in Paradise. See what I did there?

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Nicolas Cage is just terrible here. He yells and screams and Cages everything in sight. His is one of the most unlikable performances in his career. He thankfully gets outshined by Lovitz and Carvey who provide a few laughs and have good chemistry, but altogether become more of a chorus than active members of the family. They provide a hokey commentary on the events going on without really bearing much weight on the story.

And what’s the deal with this bank robbery? Cage’s character Bill spends most of the film trying to keep his brothers from committing petty theft before being easily swayed into robbing a bank? C’MON! Totally unbelievable and uninspired. Prove it to me, unheard of director George Gallo! Prove it!

I enjoyed some of the tertiary characters in this film. They play as caricatures of picturesque small-town people. If the film were set a bit more to the west, I could call it Minnesota Nice to the extreme.

Director Gallo (Middle Men, Double Take) sleeps through this film. I didn’t find myself swept up in any of the events of the film. His screenplay offers far too few laughs and far too much fluff (and this isn’t good fluff, it is crap covered fluff). Even the cast in the film looks like it isn’t having any fun in this “funny Christmas” film. They referred to it as “Trapped in Bullshit” for the entirety of the strained shoot, and it shows here.

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Part of me is drawn to Trapped in Paradise once every couple years, and when I finish it, I’m still not sure why. The film is dark and unfunny, it isn’t beautifully shot or acted, and it isn’t a plot that I can connect to in the slightest. This film exists somewhere above the Hallmark film releases but dreadfully below most anything else.

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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