Beverly Hills Cop (1984) — A cocky cop on the case

“I don’t think cost is the issue here, sir. I think the issue should be my blatant disregard for proper procedure.”

Justin’s rating: “Axel F” was, is, and always will be the soundtrack to my summers

Justin’s review: When I was a kid, our neighborhood had a pool where we would spend much of our time during those hot months in Ohio. Out of all of my memories going to that pool, it was those times that I heard Axel F blasting over the speakers that brought together the feel of childhood, the ’80s, and summertime. I didn’t even know Beverly Hills Cop at the time — didn’t see it until I was well into my 20s, in fact — but it still had a small but important impact on my youth all the same.

A fish-out-of-water (er, cop-out-of-Detroit) tale like this shouldn’t have been such a massive hit, save for several factors swinging in its favor. Eddie Murphy is a huge one, of course. His fast-talking and always laughing Axel Foley is the sarcastic, good-natured cop we all love to hang with. The soundtrack injects the film with a whole lot of energy. And there’s an almost perfect balance of action and comedy to carry us through from start to finish.

When a good friend from his delinquent days is murdered, Axel heads to his pal’s former stomping grounds in Beverly Hills to investigate. Coming from Detroit, Axel discovers a vastly different world of high income, pristine looks, and cops who don’t have the streetwise talents to tackle a case like this.

Of course, it’s all an excuse to drag the attention back to Hollywood’s favorite topic, which is California. Hollywood loves to dote on this state, if you couldn’t tell by the billion other movies centered around it, and it does feel self-serving. Yet Beverly Hills Cop slightly breaks with tradition by using an outsider to highlight how the vast wealth of certain areas may have put the inhabitants out of touch with how the world actually works. After all, Axel spends about half the movie literally laughing at how dorky and extravagant L.A. people are.

Plus, it’s an excuse to team up Eddie Murphy and Judge Reinhold together. Coming from very different worlds, these two become fast friends who act like schoolyard chums. It helps immensely that both of these guys are so dang charming in their own ways. And there are other great comedians with bit parts, such as Bronson Pinchot, Paul Reiser, and Damon Wayans.

If there is any weakness to be identified, it’s that the actual case is pretty tepid. Something about barabonds and drug smuggling and a really snooty art dealer. I also think that everyone’s antagonism and stonewalling of Axel goes a little longer than need be.

But when that soundtrack kicks in, I don’t care about such quibbles. You go on ruffling feathers, Eddie Murphy, and let us enjoy the chaos that comes in your wake!

Didja notice?

  • The Heat is On!
  • This truck loves to demolish cars, let me tell you. One even explodes.
  • Those are some fakey Detroit police cars
  • Hey, it’s Paul Reiser
  • $235 a night sounds like a steal for an expensive hotel
  • That’s a whole lot of security guards
  • Bananas up the tailpipe
  • Anti-banana surprise
  • This was back when red meat and coffee were bad
  • That is not a conservative drinking establishment
  • The tiniest pistol ever!
  • Those machine guns can’t hit anything
  • “What’s this man doing here?” “Bleeding, sir!”

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