With the release of Tower Heist and the Oscars hosting gig, Eddie Murphy was poised for a huge comeback. But now that the film opened behind Puss in Boots to lukewarm reviews (EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum gave it a C+, while CinemaScore graders scored it a B) and Murphy has exited the Academy Awards following Brett Ratner’s resignation as producer, where does it stand? It would be easy to say his comeback has taken a severe hit, but we all know what happens when an Oscar host doesn’t mesh fully with the creative team behind him (see: James Franco). Murphy was in his rights to bow out gracefully if the players changed (even if part of you wishes he’d reconsider now that Brian Grazer, who produced Tower Heist, Bowfinger, Life, The Nutty Professor films, and Boomerang has been tapped to replace Ratner). But there’s still a hunger for Murphy’s talent. Reread this part of Schwarzbaum’s review:
You may think I am picking too much on what’s built to be a fun, diverting, New York-state-of-mind caper comedy — a joke-filled cavalcade that marks 50-year-old Eddie Murphy’s welcome return to the edgier stuff that made him famous. Alrighty, let’s talk about Murphy: He’s nowhere to be found in the first half of the movie! And he’s only there to illuminate selected scenes in the second: He’s like the spot lighting supplied by a big-ass chandelier in an ostentatious Trump lobby. That’s too bad, because when Murphy is on screen, his comedic vigor — reminiscent of Chris Tucker’s jive-talk mania in Ratner’s Rush Hour movies but with a blast of Murphy-specific danger — gooses the movie’s energy level. I’ve missed that guy.
Maybe the audience got a taste, and now it will want more. Poll below.