Eddie Murphy, the comedy giant with an illustrious career spanning decades, has carved his niche as one of Hollywood’s most iconic actors. Known for his infectious laugh and magnetic charisma, Murphy has consistently pushed the boundaries of comedy. He also offers performances that are as memorable as they are hilarious. His diverse filmography further attests to his talent and adaptability. Here, we spotlight seven of Eddie Murphy’s most hilarious films that have enthralled audiences and become pillars of comedic cinema.
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Beverly Hills Cop, with Eddie Murphy’s breakout performance as the quick-witted and irreverent Axel Foley, served as a brilliant showcase of his comedic prowess. Hailing from Detroit, Foley lands in the posh neighborhood of Beverly Hills to investigate his friend’s murder. Additionally, the sharp contrast between his street-smart, improvised law enforcement approach and the by-the-book Beverly Hills police department makes for many humorous clashes. Whether it’s his knack for cleverly mocking his affluent surroundings or his unforgettable “banana in the tailpipe” gag, Murphy’s flawless comedic timing and endearing personality form the heart of this action-comedy classic, turning it into one of the highest-grossing films of the ’80s.
Coming To America (1988)
Coming to America features Murphy in an array of diverse roles. The most notable is as Prince Akeem of Zamunda, who travels to Queens, New York, searching for love. Alongside the love story, Murphy also portrays different characters. These include a Jewish barbershop patron to a Soul singer named Sexual Chocolate. They also highlight his exceptional talent for character transformation. The humor in this film lies in the prince’s fish-out-of-water experience. Overall, this film’s comedic brilliance and Murphy’s multi-character performance make it a definitive comedy classic.
The Nutty Professor (1996)
In The Nutty Professor, Murphy explores new comedic territory as he juggles seven roles, most notably the mild-mannered, obese professor Sherman Klump and his suave, thin alter-ego, Buddy Love. Through the Klump family dinner scenes, Murphy also delivers a tour de force, seamlessly transitioning among characters, each with distinct personalities and quirks. It’s his ability to extract humor from self-deprecation while delivering laugh-out-loud moments that makes this film stand out. Murphy’s performance also made The Nutty Professor a box-office hit and spawned a sequel.
Trading Places (1983)
Trading Places, a comedy anchored in social commentary, sees Murphy at his best as the street-savvy hustler Billy Ray Valentine. The film also ingeniously uses humor to explore the nature-vs-nurture debate, thrusting Murphy’s character from the streets of Philadelphia into a high-powered financial firm as part of a cruel bet. As Valentine tries to navigate this new environment, his savvy street skills and clever wit further lead to several comedic moments.
48 Hrs. (1982)
The movie 48 Hrs. was Murphy’s film debut, marking his transition from his Saturday Night Live persona to the big screen. In this action-comedy, Murphy plays Reggie Hammond, a wise-cracking convict paired with a grizzled detective, portrayed by Nick Nolte, to catch a cop killer. The unlikely partnership and the ensuing culture clash provide ample room for Murphy’s comedic genius. His smooth-talking charm and ability to deliver laugh-inducing one-liners amidst high-stakes action shine throughout the film. The movie showcased Murphy’s potential as a star, setting the foundation for his illustrious film career.
In animation, Murphy’s vocal performance as Donkey in the Shrek franchise added a comedic depth that resonated with both kids and adults. His character, a fast-talking, waffle-loving sidekick to the grumpy ogre Shrek, stole scenes with his incessant chatter and hilarious antics. Murphy’s energetic voice acting imbued Donkey with a charisma that made him an unforgettable character. His knack for delivering rapid-fire quips and his ability to express a wide range of emotions through voice alone added a layer of comedy that helped make Shrek an animation classic.
Dolemite Is My Name (2019)
Dolemite Is My Name offered Murphy a chance to portray a real-life comedic legend, Rudy Ray Moore. As Moore, Murphy delivers a heartfelt and humor-filled tribute to the “Godfather of Rap.” The film follows Moore’s journey from a struggling comedian to a Blaxploitation icon, capturing his perseverance and flair for hilarity. Murphy masterfully blends comedy with drama and offers numerous laugh-out-loud moments. This performance earned him a Golden Globe nomination and solidified Murphy’s position as a comedic legend.
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