Oscars Not Raw Enough For Eddie Murphy Comeback

It was confirmed last week that faded comedian and actor Eddie Murphy will be the presenter of the Academy Awards in 2012. I’m a little bit late on this, but I found this appointment very interesting, so I didn’t want to let it pass without making comment.There has been much criticism aimed at recent Oscar hosts, particular this year towards Anne Hathaway and James Franco. It is a difficult job particularly as there is pressure to be funny  whilst not really offending either the public or anyone in the industry. The Academy Awards are fully aimed at a family audience, meaning humour often ends up being pretty benign. When i heard that Eddie Murphy might be the next host, I felt quite excited about the idea of Murphy returning to live performance.

As i thought it through, however, it became quickly very obvious that it was not really the right forum to allow him to relive his glory days of stand-up comedy.Eddie Murphy became a household name in the eighties thanks to his work on Saturday Night Live, and a hugely successful solo stand-up career. As a result of this, he was quickly offered his first Hollywood movie role in 48 Hours, acting opposite Nick Nolte. His great comedic and edgy performance lead to numerous offers, and Eddie Murphy was, in the mid to late eighties, Hollywood’s hottest star. Then, the nineties hit. Murphy struggled to carry on his success, and by the time Beverly Hills Cop III came along, it was clear his career had hit the rocks. Murphy was no longer the edgy, dangerous comedian, and had lost his place in the industry.So he reinvented himself. In 1996, Eddie starred in The Nutty Professor, and began his ‘family comedy’ movie career, combining his

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.

Bazmann – You can follow me on Twitter at


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