Top 10 Eddie Murphy Films (…Or A List Of Films Before Eddie Murphy Lost The Ability To Make You Laugh)

Eddie Murphy was once one of Hollywood’s funniest, most bankable stars with hits such as Beverly Hills Cop, 48 Hrs and Coming To America. Now he’s the forgotten man. Top 10 Films checks out his best work…

10. The Distinguished Gentleman (Lynn, 1992)

Top 10 Eddie Murphy Films (…Or A List Of Films Before Eddie Murphy Lost The Ability To Make You Laugh) - Top 10 FilmsTake out the commercial success of the overrated Nutty Professor and the late decade accomplishments of Life and Bowfinger, Murphy’s career in the 1990s took a nosedive. Jonathan Lynn’s The Distinguished Gentleman is a minor highpoint sandwiched between the hollow nastiness of Boomerang and painfully misguided Beverly Hills Cop III. Here he plays a fast-talking con artist who uses the death of a congressman to hustle his way to Washington.

9. Another 48 Hrs (Hill, 1990)

Top 10 Eddie Murphy Films (…Or A List Of Films Before Eddie Murphy Lost The Ability To Make You Laugh) - Top 10 FilmsAnother film in the late 1980s and early 1990s built to cash-in on Eddie Murphy’s star persona, Another 48 Hrs isn’t as good as its predecessor but anyone wanting more cop-convict squabbling and bullet-riddled mayhem need look no further.

8. The Golden Child (Ritchie, 1986)

Top 10 Eddie Murphy Films (…Or A List Of Films Before Eddie Murphy Lost The Ability To Make You Laugh) - Top 10 FilmsA strange departure for Eddie Murphy into fantasy – a genre that has never really worked for him when you consider such cinematic monstrosities as Vampire in Brooklyn, The Adventures of Pluto Nash and The Haunted MansionThe Golden Child is unsurprisingly uneven and, well, a bit weird. But with Charles Dance hamming it up, Murphy, adorned with “serious face”, adds another decent film to his repertoire even though it was considered a commercial failure by the studio.

7. Life (Demme, 1999)

Top 10 Eddie Murphy Films (…Or A List Of Films Before Eddie Murphy Lost The Ability To Make You Laugh) - Top 10 FilmsMurphy forms an entertaining double act with Martin Lawrence during a particularly strong period in the former’s career. Despite a couple of good movies in 1999 suggesting Murphy was on the way back, only the Shrek franchise has stood out making Life one of his last good outings. It tells the story of two wrongly convicted cons living their entire lives behind bars and the assortment of characters they meet over the years.

6. Bowfinger (Oz, 1999)

Top 10 Eddie Murphy Films (…Or A List Of Films Before Eddie Murphy Lost The Ability To Make You Laugh) - Top 10 Films1999 threatened to be a comeback year for Murphy with two excellent films including Steve Martin’s Bowfinger. Here he plays two parts – a paranoid Hollywood superstar and a simpleton doppelganger – as Martin’s desperate filmmaker tries to produce a sci-fi action movie without his leading actor knowing he’s in it. With layers of satire, some wonderful performances, and an inventive streak not seen in Martin’s work for years, Bowfinger is a terrific comedy.

Also check out:
The Most Memorable Eddie Murphy Characters

5. Beverly Hills Cop II (Scott, 1987)

Top 10 Eddie Murphy Films (…Or A List Of Films Before Eddie Murphy Lost The Ability To Make You Laugh) - Top 10 FilmsA terrific sequel to Eddie Murphy’s best film, Beverly Hills Cop II offers a familiar but entertaining ride. Tony Scott takes over in the director’s chair, giving a bit more gravitas to the action sequences, but the stage is Murphy’s and he excels.

4. 48 Hrs (Hill, 1982)

Top 10 Eddie Murphy Films (…Or A List Of Films Before Eddie Murphy Lost The Ability To Make You Laugh) - Top 10 FilmsA gritty feature film debut, Eddie Murphy is a con forced to team up with Nick Nolte’s racist detective to track down a pair of cop killers in Walter Hill’s lightweight actioner. Murphy is given enough of a stage to show off his scene-stealing presence. The best sequence features the acclaimed comic imitating a cop in a redneck bar in order to get intelligence out of the customers.

3. Trading Places (Landis, 1983)

Top 10 Eddie Murphy Films (…Or A List Of Films Before Eddie Murphy Lost The Ability To Make You Laugh) - Top 10 FilmsFollowing his feature film debut in Walter Hill’s 48 Hrs, Eddie Murphy gets another opportunity to showcase his comic talent alongside Dan Aykroyd. Once again he’s fighting bigots with a cool ability to return fire with comedy, breaking down the barriers of stereotype. Here he’s the butt-end of a joke between rich commodities brokers in New York who decide to orchestrate a plan to switch their educated and ambitious managing director with an out of work street hustler to settle a debate over nature versus nurture.

2. Coming To America (Landis, 1988)

Top 10 Eddie Murphy Films (…Or A List Of Films Before Eddie Murphy Lost The Ability To Make You Laugh) - Top 10 FilmsJohn Landis was one of the first directors to recognise the potential of Eddie Murphy as a movie star. Five years after giving him an opportunity in Trading Places, Murphy excels playing multiple roles including as wise-cracking New York barber and crazy soul singer as well as main character Prince Akeem Joffer, an isolated African prince who sets out to find his true love in America.

1. Beverly Hills Cop (Brest, 1984)

Axel Foley, Eddie Murphy, Beverly Hills Cop, 1980s Comedy Film Characters - Top 10 FilmsEddie Murphy’s earliest star-vehicle remains his best work as the wise-cracking, cocky Detroit cop Axel Foley. When his crooked friend is murdered, he tracks his killers to Los Angeles where his unpredictable and eccentric approach to police work makes him the fly in the ointment of his Californian colleagues. For audiences, however, it’s great fish-out-of-water comedy.

Written and Compiled by Dan Stephens

Over to you: what are the best Eddie Murphy films?

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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Callum Reply

    Reminds me just how much I love Eddie Murphy’s older films!

    • Dan Reply

      I was getting all nostalgic writing this one!

  2. Wendell Reply

    Great work. Just shows how far he’s fallen in terms of the quality of his films. I go with Coming to America for the top spot, but it’s close enough between that and BHC I won’t argue it. I would definitely swap out The Distinguished Gentlemen and Another 48 Hrs. Shrek, Boomerang, and Harlem Nights would be the contenders for those spots. Come to think of it, I’d probably get them all in by taking out The Golden Child, too.

    • Dan Reply

      I have a soft spot for The Distinguished Gentleman which doesn’t extend to Boomerang (a film that didn’t work for me). Harlem Nights is another I didn’t like. Shrek is definitely worthy though.

  3. CineGirl Reply

    I’m a fan of The Distinguished Gentleman too – it seems to be forgotten about nowadays. I would probably put Coming to America at the top but Beverly Hills Cop is great fun.

    • Dan Reply

      Yeah, TDG is a lot of fun.

  4. Dan Grant Reply

    I agree with most of your list, Dan. But it seems as though we have found another film we disagree on. Boomerang is a terrific film and not so much because of Murphy but because of the supporting cast. Martin Lawrence and David Allen Grier are quite hilarious and Halle Berry and Robin Givens are perfect as the ying and yang of women in his life. I think it’s one of the funnier scripts of the 90’s. It also has one of the better soundtracks for any movie. All my opinion of course. As for Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hours, they are all classics of the genre. I like your list a lot and agree with the first two spots for sure.

    • Dan Reply

      Yeah, Boomerang wasn’t for me. I didn’t feel Murphy was well-suited to the role. In the likes of Harlem Nights and then Vampire In Brooklyn, he tried to be a little more serious which I don’t think has ever worked for him. In Boomerang he came across as a crude, charmless individual, a person who I could never like.

  5. Tinker Reply

    Beverly Hills Cop is his best!

    • Dan Reply

      Glad we agree!

  6. Dan Grant Reply

    Hmm, well, it’s one more movie we disagree on Dan lol.

    But we both love his best films, so there’s that.

  7. Jason Taffey Reply

    A spent talent? Perhaps. But some seriously good work.

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