Murphy’s Law Of Diminishing Returns …Or How Family Films Are Destroying Our Comedy Icons.
Posted on Wednesday April 2, 2008, 16:59 by Glen Ferris in Empire States
Take a look at the new trailer for Meet Dave, go on, it’s right here. Seen it? Good, now how many of you laughed? Be honest. Nobody? Thought so!
Remember when Eddie Murphy used to be funny? I know it was long ago, but what great days they were. Trading Places, Coming To America, 48 Hrs, Beverly Hills Cop - time was that his fast-talking, foul-mouthed schtick would have us open mouthed in awe. But now… well nothing.
Once a cutting-edge comedian who gleefully stomped on the face of good taste and punctuated every sentence with a vitriol-fuelled “Fuck you” (see his brilliant stand-up gigs Delirious and Raw), Murphy’s ignoble fall from gigglesome grace is all down to his predilection for making box office friendly family movies – the money-spinning elephant graveyard where formerly funny folk go to die on their asses.
Admittedly Murphy had plenty of hits and misses before his career took a permanent nose dive (Harlem Nights and A Vampire In Brooklyn being stand-out stinkers), but the moment he truly dedicated his career to milking the family-funded cash cow was the exact point at which he permanently lost his chortle-making mojo. The Nutty Professor 1 and 2, the Doctor Doolittle flicks, Daddy Day Care, The Haunted Mansion… shudder… Norbit – the facts are irrefutable: Mo’ money, less funny!
Unfortunately, this phenomenon, let’s call it Murphy’s Law, isn’t unique to poor Eddie.
Robin Williams (once a man who littered his expletive-ridden stand-up gigs with drugs and booze gags) has peppered his career with more arse-puckering theme park-funded candy-floss dross than any other actor of his ilk (Flubber, Patch Adams, Jack, frigging Bicentennial Man). Even when it looks like he’s turned a corner and manages to knock out something dark and meaningful (One Hour Photo, Insomnia), back down the rabbit hole he goes again and up pops another pile of cack like RV: Runaway Vacation.
The same goes for Steve Martin: The Jerk, The Man With Two Brains, ¡Three Amigos! – Good. Father Of The Bride 2, Sgt Bilko, Cheaper By The Dozen, The Pink Panther - Bad
And the least said about Martin Lawrence and Adam Sandler’s latest output the better – suffice to say, that Will Ferrell should watch and learn from their mistakes before he goes down the same path.
Obviously there is a great big hole in this theory (there always is) and not all kids’ entertainment translates into a solid-gold turd for these former funnymen. As Murphy and Williams have aptly demonstrated, while their on-screen mugging days are better left behind them, their vocal chords can still raise a laugh - as demonstrated by their turns in Shrek and Mulan and Aladdin respectively. All of which leads us to the conclusion that audiences have lost the ability to laugh at these middle-age mirth-makers when their faces are on the big screen.
My advice then, if you want to be taken seriously again (and I am talking to you Eddie - that Dreamgirls Oscar nom didn’t have to be a one-off) is ditch the kids’ stuff, destroy the fat suits, pack up the inappropriate racial stereotypes and try your hand at being an adult again. For all our sakes.
Are our comedy icons really are too old for this shit or would you really like to see Norbit Part II?
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Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 11:24
Can someone please tell Mr Murphy that dressing up in a fat suit got old after ten minutes of The Nutty Professor. He is almost as bad as Lenny Henry. HEEE HEEE HEEE
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 11:32
I think Robin Williams is still funny...he just makes bad film choices - I heard Man of the Year was rather amusing and he's hilarious in interviews and talk shows.
Murphy on the other hand seems to think he's God's Gift to the World. Personally, the talk of Beverly Hills Cop 4 scares the crap out of me as everyone knows that Axel Foley is a 'foul mouthed jerk from out of town.' Seeing as Murphy hasn't said the 'F word' in over ten years, who knows what watered downed dross we get.
Perhaps Axel will don a fat suit and call himself 'Big Momma' to uncover a drugs cartel or something. No, wait. That's an awful idea.
What actor would do such a thing? Oh wait...
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 12:36
Way to go, Empire.
I blogged pretty much this exact subject. In September 2006.
Read MySpace much, Glenn?
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 12:47
Wow, how spooky. You blogged on myspace well over a year ago, on this exact same subject! Jesus H. Christ!
And it's such an obscure, unpredictable subject as well!
A full-scale investigation must be launched.
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 13:02
I hear what you're sayin Glenn. I was watching Delirious a few days ago and after laughing my arse off and taking paracetamol for my aching sides i just shook my head in shame and just wished i could ask Eddie "what the fuck happened? where did it all go?" I really hope he resurrects somehow before it's too late.
Same for Robin Williams. I agree with Timon, he is still funny on interviews but...let's just wait and see.
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 13:02
Given that Murphy's career hasn't risen out of the doldrums in the interim, it's not surprising that people are still bemoaning the fact. That wasn't the point. It was more the basic structure, references, comparing of old and new comedians and closing with mentioning the shot in the arm that Dreamgirls gave his career. Which you'd have probably noticed if you'd read it.
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 13:07
It's the old Steve Martin I miss the most.......sigh :(
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 13:22
Not gonna happy with Murphy. He once boasted that he gave up worrying about his career eightly million dollars ago'. OK so you're not gonna starve - now you have the security to start making good films again.
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 14:28
I think murphy should team up with Arsenio Hall again. When those two were together they made some great comedy!
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 14:43
I think it's fair to say that we could all learn a lot about film, life and the universe by subscribing to @dman's Myspace blog...
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 14:51
while I wish Eddie would go back to roles where he could have a good ol' ef n blind, Murphy's talent as a comedian still very much exists...in iSpy (which empire gave a very favorable review for) murphy n owen wilson made a great comedy pairing, Donkey is THE only consistently funny character in the Shrek trilogy and in interviews and at award shows he is still funny and wonderfully foul-mouthed!
so the ability is still their he just needs to make better choices, such as doing more films in the same vein as 'Life' (a totally under rated film and evidence that martin lawrence can, on occaision, be funny).
Also one fact should be noted...films such as Daddy Day Care, Norbit, Dr Dolittle all made good money at the BO so not much chance of them stopping.
I must disagrre with the statement about Nutty Professor-the first one is classic murphy!
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 15:09
What about Mike Myers?
The Love Guru looks like a rehash of forgotten Austin Powers gags, but Wayne's World(s) and So I Married An Axe Murderer were fantastic!
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 16:16
All I did was point out the perculiarity in how similar the two blogs are. I'm sure that were you in my position you'd have found it as bizarre as I did.
So 'I think it's fair to say' that you should quit being such a dork about it.
the ageless stranger
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 16:22
There is in fact a mathematical formula for Eddie Murphy crapness these days:
(Number of characters Murphy plays) X (Circumference of the waist of the largest fatsuit he wears in the film) X (Brightness of fake skin colour he will inevitably wear) X (The number of sighs that escape me when thinking about how funny he used to be) / (The chances I will pay to see the film) = The quality of the film.
Men in coats have proven this.
the ageless stranger
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 16:24
Actually, the (chances I will pay to see the film) should probably be above the line, but you get what I'm trying to say....
Mad Dog Tannen
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 16:39
Surely @dman doesn't think he is the first to notice that many once-great film comedians have gone soft as shite? He tried to explain that he was merely pointing out a coincidence, but in his original post he was clearly accusing Glen Ferris of plagarism.
Plus, I see that a 'Maddogbifftannen' has written a post in this thread. I wonder if he originally picked Mad Dog Tannen as his username, only to find that I beat him to it!
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 17:10
Here here! I never understand why already wealthy artists compromise their integrity making crap they know in their heart of hearts isn't up to their standards and they wouldn't be proud to put their name on.
I actually don't think Eddie has it anymore... and maybe he knows it! Even in interviews he seems laboured and not especially funny (or witty). Maybe he should go back to stand up or TV sketch to try and rebuild his persona and re-discover what comedy is all about.
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 17:35
Mag Dog Tannen...
Of course I wasn't seriously suggesting that an Empire writer happened to chance across a blog I'd written 18 month ago. That's crazy. It was meant as a sly wink to the author and that's why I posted the link. Maybe that wasn't clear because I didn't do this ;). But I generally don't use smileys and the like.
It's pretty obvious that I'm not the first person to talk about the decline of Eddie Murphy and the old guard of comedians in general - as I said before, I just found it odd how similarly we viewed and discussed the subject. Fair enough, no?
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 17:37
I don't know why @dman desperately seems to want recognition that he blogged about this subject a while before Glen Ferris did...I mean, it's not like it's some really profound discovery that was made in seeing that Eddie Murphy & co. aren't as funny as they used to be...
Fair enough point out the coincidence that you both blogged on the same topic, but Jeez...don't get all "You plagiarised my work!" on us all...
Yeah, anyway... it's not just the fault of Eddie Murphy & co. - Hollywood would rather greenlight a 'safe' family "comedy" like Cheaper by the Dozen 2, than take a risk on an edgy comedy that might bomb/cause offence/etc.
So if all that these funnymen are being offered is the same old shite scripts, but with a fat cheque attached, can you blame them for taking the money and running? It would be nice to see them take some risks though, and trying to get out of their respective ruts...
p.s. I quite liked The Nutty Professor. At least I did when it first came out and I was about 12...! Problem is that Eddie has more or less just made that film over and over again since then.
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 17:53
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 17:54
Robin Williams is a strange one because he never seems to do family films that have completely happy endings:
Mrs Doubtfire - he gets a job on TV but doesn't get his kids
Bicentennial Man - he gets his wish but everyone dies...everyone!
Jack - He graduates from High School but he's going to die really really soon!
Patch Adams - Monica Porter gets shot
Not that this makes the films any good, just that there seems to be more to his choices than the family buck. Although I must confess to having avoided RV like the plague.
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 17:56
P.S. Where's the love people? Can't we all just get along?
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 19:03
@dman, lol. Your original post opened with an extremely sarcastic "Way to go, Empire."
You then went on to use a seperate sentence for "In September 2006", for would-be dramatic effect, sort of like a grammatical "DUN DUN DUN!"
Seems extremely obvious that your intent was to accuse the blogger of basically copying your own post. Given that you were widely derided for this folly, you've gone on the defensive and insulted everyone who cared to point it out.
As for your inevitable reply, we know!
1) your intention was NOT to accuse Empire of stealing, or copying, or being way behind your blogging brain.
2) your intention WAS to note the similarities in the structure and content of the two blogs.
3) I, and everyone who agrees with me, is a douchebag.
So to save you the trouble: 1) for the reasons above, I don't buy this, 2) such similarities are inherent on any considered blog on the subject (read: your observations were pretty obvious anyway) and 3) ooft!
You should apply for a job with the NME.
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 19:24
i agree with skeletonjack, the old Steve Martin is who i miss the most. The man with two brains is brilliant. Bowfinger was pretty good for both martin and murphy.
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 19:35
Can anyone tell me really when was the last time Steve Martin or Eddie Murphy headlined a major film to boost their careers? after the terrible Pink Panther and Norbit is there a way back for the once funny "Funnymen"?
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 20:30
I really like Eddie Murphy's older films and stand up. And there is no doubt that his more recent choice of movies with the possible exception of Dreamgirls have been horrible. I think we should remember though, that the young man who took to the stage 20 odd years ago and did an impression of Mr T having anal sex was in his early 20s, was just that, a young man. The gurning idiot we see these days is a family man or a dad anyway. I recall him saying years ago that he wanted to make films his kids could watch him in. I think now, however, the time's come to for him to get back to the kind of roles that launched his career. Could be though that the big studios won't consider him for anything but family friendly fare. perhaps the times come to do a wee independent project? I'm sure he could put up some of the cash himself?
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 21:23
I have NEVER laughed more than the first 10 minutes of Delirious....
Hey Boy...you look mighty cute in them jeans! Damn shame the youngsters will always think of him as that guy you used to be famous and then did Norbit. Come on Eddie, get back to your profane, motormouth best!
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 21:28
It's true, it's true, it's all too true. A pathetic number of talented comic actors sell out. But I'd disagree with coljohnmatrix - I wouldn't rather blame Hollywood for this, they're inevitably going to make as much money as possible, it's what they do. It's like blaming a tapeworm for making your arse itch: futile. These actors ARE to blame for taking the money and running. They're already millionaires, it's not like they need the money. It's entirely their own choice if they take a shit script, no-one's forcing them. They could be remembered as great and funny but instead go for the money. It's very sad.
BUT 1: According to Empire, It wasn't Steve Martin's fault that The Pink Panther was bad; "With a better story, director and support cast, Martin could have made Clouseau his own..."
BUT 2: Parenthood is a tame family movie, but it's underrated and AWESOME. Seriously, go watch it.
BUT 3: @dman's a dickhead
Posted on Monday April 7, 2008, 22:08
When was the last time Murphy or Martin were funny?
I watched the Man With Two Brains recently (for the first time, shame on me really) and I can say it's one of the funniest films I've ever seen! Surely Martin has got some zany left in him...
Oh yeah, I'm sure I read a couple of years ago that Tarantino was gonna cast Murphy in Inglorious Bastards in a Travolta style comeback. That would have been interesting, if that film ever happens. Did anyone else read that?
Morten S. Clausen
Posted on Tuesday April 8, 2008, 10:27
This movie looks funnier than BAD SANTA.
Posted on Tuesday April 8, 2008, 12:08
On Mr Williams being ad hoc funny when stand up. Have a look at the BBC website for a clip of him doing some stand up prior to an airing of the World Debate. It rocks and is political.
PS Regarding Norbitt. It was Shorhitt.
Posted on Tuesday April 8, 2008, 12:24
I read that Mr Grizzly, could have sworn it was in an old issue of Empire.
Posted on Tuesday April 8, 2008, 12:35
What I don't get is why in these films they often rely on black actors, like Cuba Gooding Jr., Lawrence or Murphy, and have such lazy script writing that you now have your stereoypical black family film man. I rarely jump on the PC bandwagon, or accuse people of racism, but this is just lazy. Denzel Washington and Jamie Foxx seem to get good parts, but the rest of them are reduced to being put in dumb situations goin "da-amn!" like the guy from not another teen movie. Cedric the Entertainer has no excuse as he was never good.
Posted on Tuesday April 8, 2008, 12:47
I too miss the 'funny' Eddie Murphy, but it's not all bad. At least we have Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen for a fix of foul mouthed rudeness.
Posted on Tuesday April 8, 2008, 18:46
What about Dan Aykroyd? Where once was Ghostbusters, Trading Places, The Blues Brothers... there now lies Crossroads, 50 First Dates and (shudder) I Now Pronounce You Larry and Chuck. Seriously, has he been seriously funny since Grosse Point Blank?
Posted on Tuesday April 8, 2008, 23:37
Or maybe we should stop living in the past? Yes, Murphy is no longer entertaining (Shrek 2 & 3 will not change my mind) But through the magic of DVDs we can still enjoy his past classics (Coming to America having some great lines) And meanwhile we can go on to enjoy newbies like Seth Rogen and Will Ferrell or very-newbies like Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. Many of whom will no doubt fade too in humour...ful...ness... (??)
After all, what previous comic star is STILL funny? Not Murphy, not Martin, nor Williams...
Can anyone think of one really?
Posted on Wednesday April 9, 2008, 11:07
to answer the question made by Gabriel, above...
Once a very funny funnyman... Still is a very funny funnyman..
ok he hasnt made a proper comedy in quite a while, but im sure hes got something in the pipelines..
but in the meantime, doc brown has a very good point... nobody [bar him], has made the veiw clear that Bowfinger was a very very funny film.. and [correct me if im wrong] starred both, Murphy and Martin... and tht raises the point, Maybe they just need a good film/script/director????
So, in the meantime, while we are waiting for something actually funny from Murphy, Martin and Williams [search on youtube 'Who's Line Is It Anyway? Robin Williams', u will not be dissapointed], and a comedy from Carrey, we have Judd Apatow, Steve Carrell and Seth Rogen to provide for us film fans... and lets not forget, we still have our prized DVD collection at which we can view a comedy however many times we want to... So am i not the only not really that bothered by the fact that Norbit was shockingly awful, and I can just revert to my Monty Python collection??????
final thing?? why do the Americans find Ricky Gervais so, soo, sooo funny??? is it just me or is he in nearly every film that is 'Family Friendly' that comes out of America???
Posted on Wednesday April 9, 2008, 11:23
I actually thought that trailer was pretty funny although not sure how that will translate to the whole film.
Posted on Wednesday April 9, 2008, 15:52
I couldn't agree more. I am praying that Chris Rock doesn't go the same way. He already made that mistake with Bad Company!
Posted on Wednesday April 9, 2008, 17:45
Murphy's Law hmm? Sounds a lot like my proposed Guttenberg's Syndrome a few years back. Still, good to see his smiling mug is as infectious as ever on Dancing with the Stars.
As for Eddie, I'm not quite ready to count the man out just yet, despite all evidence to the contrary. Sure every time I read about his NEXT film project there's always a small - and getting ever quieter - voice that whispers 'Hey, maybe this is the one, maybe this is when Eddie gets his funny back.' But looking at his IMDb entry things don't look to rosey. One project seemingly has him playing a character that only has a thousand spoken words to left before he dies. I'm not sure limiting what Eddie says in a film is the way to go. Eddie is funny when he's speaking - and allowed to ad-lib.
And surely in today's cinematic climate it can't be TOO long before 'Beverly Hills Cop 4' gets the full greenlight. Heck, right now I'd even settle for a 'Yet Another 48Hrs'.
Come on Eddie...you can do it. We saw a glimpse in Dreamgirls, now it's showtime.*
*Showtime was actually far better than I expected it to be. Quite enjoyed it.
Posted on Wednesday April 9, 2008, 20:42
The reason that Bowfinger was funny was because Steve Martin also wrote the damn thing! If you are familiar with his written work you'll already be aware that he is a brilliant writer and every film he has written so far has been great. You should also check out the fantastic "Pure Drivel" ask for it at your local bookshop....
Posted on Thursday April 10, 2008, 23:04
Man, once upon a time this guy was a genius. I mean, I can pretty much recite Beverly Hills Cop, Trading Places (Holy Shit - I have legs!!) is a classic if ever there was one and he sure as hell should have been in Ghostbusters (as Winston Zeddemore - a bigger role had Murphy been involved, no doubt - Murphy and Murray, verbal sparring, what might have been (sigh))
He needs to ditch the fat suits, animal films and films where he plays 1, 345, 678 people in one scene. He is funny, still is. He wiped the floor with Mike Myers and the rest of the cast in the Shreks films.
What he needs is a decent role - and one that allows him to show off his greatest assetts. His comic timing and improvisation. Those are skills A. Sandler has wet dreams about.
Posted on Monday April 14, 2008, 03:29
someone is advertising for an online site called "Bla ckWhi teK iss . c o m ". It's only a community for meeting black beauties, not for white women.
you need to stop.. BlackWhiteKiss is a controvercial site asking black women to seek rich white men!
Posted on Monday April 14, 2008, 14:26
All I can say on this subject is Axel Foley is an iconic comedy character from the 80s and if the deteriorating Murphy can get the essence of that character back, they should do BHC IV for sure - least not to put the third instalment to the back our minds coz it's just awful - similarly to what Stallone did with Rocky Balboa, restoring some pride to a classis cinematic franchise. Shame Inspector Todd's been killed off though.
Posted on Wednesday April 16, 2008, 01:00
lt's all the about the goddamn money. the last martin film I saw with a sliver of diginity was 'cheaper by the dozen', and his most decent film since then was shopgirl. SHOPGIRL! Don'tsay looney tunes or I will punch you in the face.
I'm ashamed in Eddie Murphy. Coming to America, Raw, Shrek, and then Shrek 3, The Haunted Mansion, and N... can't say it without crying. Stick the Dreamgirls, that was outstanding.
There's still hope for all of them, but they won't take it!
Posted on Thursday April 17, 2008, 14:58
It's a tragedy when good comedians start to grow up, settle down, have children (or not, oh hang on, yeah, that's mine after all). Whether it be Eddie Murphy (who's only funny when you can't see him), Robin Williams, who was brilliant, but is now just hairy and dull, and Steve Martin, what the fk happened there, he was the best of them all. Oh yeah, I forgot Martin Lawrence, no, hang on, he was never funny to start with.
Posted on Sunday July 20, 2008, 15:22
Being funny doesn't depend upon whether you do a film for kids of for grownups. And it sure doesn't depend on whether or not use you use bad language.
I have seen squeaky clean kids films - Toy Story, Wall-E - that I thought were very funny. And I have seen "grownup" comedies that went out of their way to be offensive. And tanked. Meet the Spartans, anyone?