First and foremost I love this movie.
In Beverly Hills Cop Eddie Murphy is Axel Foley, a street smart
detective in Detroit. A violent attack leaves him unconscious and
a friend dead. Deciding to unofficially investigate his friend's
murder, Foley lands himself in the estranged foreign culture of
Beverly Hills, CA. Despite the assistance of local police Axel is
unquestionably the sole driver of the investigation.
The brief synopsis reads nothing like a comedy because it is not a
true comedy. It is an action police drama infused with the
comedic brilliance of Eddie Murphy, a comedian at the pinnacle of
his career at that time. Given the racial, ethnic and cultural issues
in america, for marketing purposes, this action film is clothed in
comedy. What really stands out about the film is that much of it
makes fun of and exposes the ridiculousness of racial, ethnic and
cultural issues in america. A Black cop from Detroit stirring up
trouble in predominately white Beverly Hills in 1984 was a grand
and risky undertaking. It turned out to be a worthwhile risk as the
movie catapulted Eddie Murphy into hollywood stardom. The
success of Beverley Hill's Cop was the onset of today's Will
Smiths, Denzels, and Sam Jacksons. The film single-handedly
proved that a black actor as the lead could produce a
commercially successful big budget hollywood film.
While the audience is easily indulged in the on screen aplomb of
comedic genius Eddie Murphy, and the adrenaline rush of a story
filled with action and drama, there is still more being
communicated to the viewer. Several aspects of this film were
socially relevant at the time of its release in 1984; Friendship and
loyalty, intelligence, honor, strength, tenacity and redemption.
These are the traits we find in main characters in varying genres
of film. None are remarkable in and of themselves, but they were
the traits that had never been all combined in a black character in
a film produced and promoted by hollywood. Eddie Murphy
portrayed a fully developed human being on screen which is
something that had not been done before, with a Black actor in
hollywood, except by Eddie himself in 48 Hours and Trading
Places. The difference with Beverly Hills Cop and those two films
is Eddie was the lead of the film, not the co-lead.
I ask you to imagine being a child that loves movies who never
sees someone who looks like you as the hero and someone that
looks like you as only the servant, helper, buffoon or criminal.
Then one day, on the big screen appears a hero. And he/she looks
like you! How do you think you would feel? It isn't that a person,
child or adult, cannot identify with others that don't physically
resemble themselves, but it becomes harder and harder to identify
with a person that does not look like you when they are always
identified as the hero and you are always the supporter or nemesis
of the hero. To a generation of young Black people, and everyone else,
Beverly Hills Cop was the first big hollywood movie that portrayed a
Black male as the hero without a grand suspension of belief.