Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Scene Stealer: Beverly Hills Cop

Beverly Hills Cop is easily one of the best 80s action-comedy films. It’s got Eddie Murphy at the top of his game and at the height of his career doing what he does best: fast-talking his way out of jams and sweet-talking his way out of trouble. He plays a brash, motor-mouthed, shrewd Detroit cop named Axel Foley. He’s a king at inventing fish stories and bending the rules, and he’s got a knack for assuming fake personas. He succeeds in gaining the upper hand in virtually every situation because he’s never daunted, always confident and enjoys a challenge, and it’s hard not to be taken in by his character when you watch the film.

Eddie Murphy proved with this film that he could single-handedly carry a movie, though he’s surrounded by an exceptional supporting cast. When Axel’s best friend is killed, he vows to find his buddy’s killers and the trail leads to an art gallery in Beverly Hills. In the art gallery, Axel meets Serge, the art gallery assistant played in scene stealing fashion by Bronson Pinchot of Perfect Strangers fame. Though Pinchot only appears in a couple of scenes, he is among the film’s most memorable supporting characters.

The exchange between Axel and Serge is unexpectedly hilarious. Axel walks into the posh art gallery sporting jeans and a t-shirt complete with a cocky and devil-may-care attitude. Traditionally, such fish-out-of-water situations result in the fish being asked to go home and find a tie. Here, Axel engages in warm banter with Serge whom speaks in an indecipherable accent. He continually calls Axel “Achmed” instead. It’s frickin’ funny stuff. Axel doesn’t mind and isn’t even all that perturbed by the mispronunciation of his name. You get the sense that Axel is himself amused by the situation, with a constant smirk on his face, and plays the part of interested gallery-goer. He even asks Serge how much a strange piece of art would go for. “$130, 000,” Serge says. “Get the fuck outta here,” exclaims Axel. Serge is not offended at all by Axel’s repeated remark. He sold it himself and he’s proud of it. It’s a truly great scene stealer in a highly entertaining 80s classic which has Eddie Murphy doing his best work in one of his most memorable roles in one of the top ten comedies of its decade.



4 comments:

  1. Didn't Pinchot pretty much get the role on Perfect Strangers because of this scene in Beverly Hills Cop?

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  2. @Chip Lary - very possible. Both characters have humorous foreign accents!

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  3. Love Beverly Hills Cop, wish the third one didn't exist and wish Murphy would get back on his game. Tower Heist was very disappointing. They could partner Axel and Serge up for the fourth in the franchise. Or maybe not...

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  4. @Pete - The first two Beverly Hills Cop films were great. You're right - the third one was bad and totally unnecessary. There's talk of adapting it for TV now, and my problem with that is that it's been too long. I don't think it will work, but we'll see.

    I haven't seen 'Tower Heist' yet, but I continue to hear mediocre-bad things about it, so it will probably be a Sunday afternoon viewing for me on the Movie Network I subscribe to when it eventually arrives on there.

    Axel and Serge are both desperately in need of some good work, so you may be on to something there...

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