It’s hard to find a review of the 2011 comedy “Tower Heist” that didn’t include a variation on one theme – “Eddie Murphy is back!’
Of course, Murphy hasn’t gone anywhere. We simply stopped caring about his films. The former superstar went from lifting mediocrities like “The Golden Child” into blockbusters to starring in a series of stale kiddie films (“Daddy Day Care,” “Imagine That”).
Murphy lost his edge, and his fan based dwindled.
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“Tower Heist,” out today on Blu-ray and DVD, reacquainted us with the old, funny Murphy. The film cast the “Saturday Night Live” alum as an ex-con who teaches a group of middle-aged men how to break into a building and steal from its richest tenant. It’s Murphy being Murphy – wise, sarcastic and lightning fast with a quip. It’s what he does best, and he hasn’t lost a step.
“I haven’t done something like that in a while,” Murphy admits in the Blu-ray extras for the film.
So … did “Tower Heist” change Murphy’s fortunes? Probably not.
The film earned $78 million domestically, hardly a pittance but not impressive given the cast (Ben Stiller, Matthew Broderick), the heavy promotion, the free publicity surrounding the film’s aborted VOD release and the gimmicky storyline.
We haven’t heard any new casting decisions involving Murphy as a result (unless you count being attached to a “Hong Kong Phooey” animated film). And next month we’ll see “A Thousand Words,” a comedy casting Murphy as a man who can only say a set amount of syllables before expiring.
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Anyone laughing yet? The movie feels like the kind of comedy Jim Carrey gave up on a decade ago.
Maybe that Murphy magic will turn a tired concept into gold once more. He’s one of the few stars who can pull off such a stunt. But if “Tower Heist” couldn’t remind audiences of what Murphy can do on the big screen, he may be all out of comebacks.