There’s absolutely no doubt in our minds when we say that Eddie Murphy was one of the icons of the comedy genre in the 1980s. His stint in Saturday Night Live, as well as movies that made us laugh like 3-year-olds, are simply unforgettable. At his peak, he was considered one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood, and this feat can’t be achieved unless someone is really special. Although his star faded with time, Murphy’s films are still adored by many. That being said, here are 15 of the best Eddie Murphy movies of all time:
15. Trading Places (1983)
Hailed as one of the most emotionally satisfying and morally gratifying comedies of recent times (at the time of its release), Trading Places was helmed by John Landis and features Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy as the leads.
The film’s plot revolves around the two polar opposite main characters (an arrogant millionaire and a cunning street scam artist) as they unintentionally “trade places” to appear like each other in front of the world due to a bet by two cruel millionaires. The film received positive reviews upon its release and it did good business at the box office as well and grabbed the 4th spot in the list of Highest Grossing Films of 1983.
14. The Nutty Professor (1996)
Proving versatility by taking different roles in different movies is impressive but playing over half a dozen different characters in the same film is something extraordinary. The 1996 slapstick comedy features Murphy playing 7 different characters.
The film is a remake of the 1963 film of the same name and follows the journey of an obese research scientist/lecturer Sherman Klump who develops a weight-reducing chemical to win the affection of his love interest. Meddling with nature has its side effects however and Klump’s pursuit of becoming physically smart turns him into the evil “Buddy Love”. The film was a success both commercially and critically and Murphy’s performance was praised.
13. Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
Although it failed to reach the heights of success reached by its prequel, the second installment in the Beverly Hills Cop II still turned out to be quite an enjoyable flick. Eddie Murphy once again portrays the sassy detective Axel Foley who returns to Beverly Hills three years after the events of the first film.
Foley reunites with Beverly Hills detectives Billy Rosewood and John Taggart to investigate the assassination attempt on the captain as well as the series of “alphabet crimes” linked with it. Will Axel and his buddies solve the case before it’s too late? Well… yes, but what makes the movie a must-see one is the hilarious turn of events that transpire throughout.
12. Eddie Murphy Raw (1987)
Eddie Murphy was simply untouchable in the 1980s when he was being himself. His comic timing and other comedic factors were, in one word, exceptional. You might have seen or at least heard of several stand-up comedy films but a film of this particular sub-genre that nearly out-grossed Robocop must be something special.
Although most of the jokes Murphy made in the 1987 film won’t sit well with the audience of today, they were hilarious enough for people at that time to burst into laughter. It is not a typical feature film but it surely deserves a one-time watch. If not for anything else, it can be watched just to recall how big of a deal Murphy was in the ’80s.
11. Life (1999)
Although most films in the comedy genre are one-dimensional, most of Murphy’s films have an underlying message as well and something that makes his projects mean more than “just another comedy flick”.
He starred in the 1999 crime-comedy drama Life alongside Martin Lawrence and the film tells the story of two wrongfully convicted strangers who become the best of friends and how that bond of friendship helps them through their sentence from 1932 until almost the end of the 20th century. You are recommended to go out of your way to watch this movie at least once!
10. Tower Heist (2011)
Nothing better than an ensemble comedy film on a fine weekend night, eh? The 2011 heist comedy film roped in some big names such as Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, and Casey Affleck among others. The plot focuses on a group of dedicated employees who plan to get revenge on their employer by breaking into his house and taking back the money that they had lost, thanks to their employer’s Ponzi scheme.
Although the plot was labeled as generic by many, the performances were praised. Murphy’s portrayal of the criminal Slide received raved reviews in general and critics said that he demonstrated the comedic style of his early Hollywood days (which is a huge compliment).
9. The Golden Child (1986)
Golden Child is a little different from what you might expect from a usual Eddie Murphy movie but it will do! The 1986 fantasy comedy film is about a private detective specializing in missing children, who is informed that he is “The Chosen One” and is tasked with protecting “The Golden Child” from evil forces since the child is the savior of mankind.
The film fared well at the box office but disappointed the critics. If you are a fan of comedy films filled with sweet and heartwarming moments, then this flick is definitely for you!
8. Bowfinger (1999)
A Steve Martin/Eddie Murphy collaboration is more than enough of a reason to watch Bowfinger. Add a unique and entertaining plot to the mix and you have got perfection. Bowfinger was written by Steve Martin and helmed by Frank Oz and features both Martin and Murphy in prominent roles, with the latter portraying two completely different roles (one of an arrogant action star and another of his kind brother).
The plot revolves around a desperate filmmaker who crafts a genius plan of shooting the film around a big star without his knowledge after the star refuses to be a part of the project. The film was a critical as well as commercial success and although Steve Martin is second to none, it was Murphy’s show-stealing performance that got everyone talking.
7. 48 Hrs. (1982)
How can we make a list of the best Eddie Murphy films and not include his debut film which also earned him a Golden Globe Nomination? 48 Hrs. is often credited as being the first buddy cop film. It stars Nick Nolte as a cop and Eddie Murphy as a convict who teams up to track down and catch two murderers and only has 48 hours to do so.
The film is more important than it appears. Not only did it introduce the buddy cop genre to the world of filmmaking, but it also served as a platform for Murphy to show his potential on the big screen. As expected, the movie turned out to be a giant success.
6. Shrek (2001)
The Shrek franchise doesn’t need any introduction. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most successful movie series of all time, counting both the animated as well as live-action franchises. You all should also be aware of the fact of how important Eddie Murphy is to this franchise.
He is the voice behind Shrek’s best friend and partner in crime Donkey. The first film in the franchise centers around the titular character who sets out on a journey with Donkey to rescue Princess Fiona to rid his swamp of magical creatures exiled by an evil lord. Little does he know that he would end up falling in love with the princess along the way. The entire Shrek franchise is packed with different fairytale characters which will surely make for a visual treat.
5. Dreamgirls (2006)
Dreamgirls is a movie about the rise of American R&B music during the 1960s. The story is told from the perspective of a trio of black female soul singers who name their group Dreams. The film also captures their struggles.
Although Eddie Murphy has a supporting role in the movie who falls into depression as his popularity drowns with time, his portrayal of “Thunder” got him an Academy Award Nomination. Apart from telling a captivating story, the film made fans of Eddie Murphy believe that he could still deliver exceptional performances, provided that the script selection process goes right.
4. Boomerang (1992)
Boomerang featured an ensemble cast including the likes of Eddie Murphy (duh), Halle Berry, Martin Lawrence, and a young Chris Rock. The plot revolves around the character of Marcus Graham, an advertising executive, and a serial dater.
Everything is going well for him until he witnesses the tables turning on him, courtesy of his new boss who is pretty much a female version of him. Graham finds himself at the receiving end of an unpleasant treatment that he had inflicted upon the women he had dated before. The film is packed with funny moments and fared well at the box office, despite a mixed critical reception.
3. Dr. Dolittle (1998)
Most of the kids who know Eddie Murphy are due to the Dr. Dolittle franchise. The first film in the franchise contains all the tools required by a film to connect with the young audience. The film follows the life of a doctor who can talk to animals and the hilarious hassles he has to go through due to this ability.
The film didn’t receive extremely positive reviews upon release but scored well at the box office and spawned four sequels. When we revisit the film, that’s when it hits us that nobody could have played the titular character and portrayed the appropriate reactions and emotions better than Murphy.
2. Coming to America (1988)
As talented as Eddie Murphy is in front of the lens, it seems like he is equally gifted behind the camera as well. The story for the 1988 romantic comedy Coming to America was provided by Murphy himself.
The plot revolves around the king of a fictional African nation who travels to New York in hopes of finding a soul mate. Although the plot seems a little “formulaic” now, it was a fresh concept back in the day. The film received positive reviews from critics and smashed the box office as well.
1. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Thankfully, Sylvester Stallone passed the chance to star as the titular character in this action comedy film, or we wouldn’t have witnessed a picture-perfect portrayal of the sassy detective Axel Foley. The Beverly Hills Cop franchise cemented Eddie Murphy’s legacy as one of the best action-comedy stars of the last century.
The plot itself is quite simple (a cop investigating the murder of his best friend). However, the way Murphy carries the film with his hilarious performance is what wins the audience over. The film was a monster success and with time, has become a cult classic.
Did the list miss any of the best Eddie Murphy movies ever? Sound off in the comments section!