SNL character work with slapstick comedy. Following up with the likes of Dr Dolittle and Daddy Day Care, and associated sequels, along with his role as Donkey in the Shrek series, Murphy continued to enjoy commercial success. However aside from the occasional gem like Bowfinger, and Dream Girls, his only Oscar nominated role, Murphy’s work received critical maulings. By the time Meet Dave came along, Murphy had become a Hollywood joke, and not in the good way.
Following this bad run, and some bad publicity relating to his personal life, the funnyman pretty much vanished from screens. The forthcoming Tower Heist, due in November, will be Murphy’s first on-screen role in a couple of years. Both the Academy Awards and Tower Heist are directed by Brett Ratner, and both will be massive tests for Murphy. Failure in either may really put the nail in his career’s coffin, whilst success in both could lead to a resurgence. Because of the nature of the Academy Awards show, it will be impossible for Murphy to show his true live comedy colours, and as part of an ensemble in Tower Heist, it will be a challenge for him to really shine there too. Between you and me, I really wouldn’t want to put my career in the hands of Brett Ratner
When you look at other SNL alumni from the late seventies and early eighties, the signs aren’t good for a continued movie career. The likes of Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Dan Akroyd et al have all faded into the ether, and whilst Bill Murray has enjoyed somewhat of na renaissance in recent years, he certainly hasn’t set the box office alight either. It may well be that Murphy needs to reinvent himself once more. He should be jealously looking over at Ted Danson’s agent. Danson has recently been appointed as Lawrence Fishburne’s successor on CSI, a role that Murphy would have been perfect for. Fading Hollywood actors have found a 2nd home in dramatic television in the last decade, and the mixture of drama and humour inherent in a role such as that on CSI would have served Murphy well, without the fear of stretching his acting muscles too far.
I like Eddie Murphy, but it is really the Murphy of the mid to late eighties that I really love. I hope he does well at the Oscars, particularly as it is a gig that can so easily go badly. If he really is looking to rejuvenate his career, he will need to think carefully about which path he wants to follow. It may well be, perhaps, that he isn’t particularly bothered. He has made a lot of money over the course of his career, and he probably doesn’t really need any more. It would be nice to see him try something different again, however, and find success once again. Whatever he chooses to do with his career, Fluent in Film wish him the best of luck.
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