“If you’re an artist like a really, really long time, it stops being a performance. I’m not performing anymore. I reveal myself to the audience. I show you some of me. It’s not a show no more.”
Actor and comedian Eddie Murphy is a powerhouse of talent, wit and ingenuity. Born on April 3, 1961, in a working-class neighbourhood of New York City, Murphy has often credited his character development to his childhood experiences. His father, who was a transit police officer, succumbed to stab wounds, and he was later sent to foster care to live with his older brother when their mother got sick; these traumatising events helped stir the comedic genius that remained nascent in Murphy. Murphy derived inspiration from a Richard Pryor comedy and decided to become a comedian. His childhood habit of manifesting various personae to play different characters played a vital role in his adulthood as well.
Murphy cites Bill Cosby as one of his inspirations too, and he later grew up to star in a film that was based on a TV show starring Cosby himself in what was a life-affirming moment. Later, Murphy first gained public attention with his contribution to Saturday Night Live, where he brought rejuvenating energy to the show. With his impeccable comic timing and energetic presence, he lit up the stage. One of his most iconic catchphrases on the show as a cynical Gumby was “I’m Gumby, dammit!” As portrayed in a character he played in the 2019 film Dolemite Is My Name, Murphy’s early comedy was littered with crass jokes, profanities and jokes directed at diversified groups of people. He is said to have been a major influence on popular comedians, namely Chris Rock, Dave Chapelle and Russell Brand. He made his on-screen debut in a film 48 Hrs alongside Nick Nolte before garnering audience attention with his performance in John Landis’ Trading Places alongside Dan Aykroyd.
Murphy soon ventured into the world of commercial and family-oriented films besides making a mark as a voice actor. Despite his physical absence, he is able to portray his emotions appropriately, which makes his presence rather remarkable.
A diverse talent with a burst of creative spirit, Murphy turns 60 today. His legacy remains indelible in the minds of his fans. To pay tribute to this hilarious comedic genius, we decided to take a look at some of his films that are streaming on Netflix.
Eddie Murphy films available on Netflix:
Coming to America (John Landis, 1988)
A wealthy Zamundan prince named Akeem is tired of the sheltered and luxurious life he leads. He is even more afraid of marrying the girl selected by his parents as he wants to marry a strong and independent lady who would love him irrespective of his socio-economic status. So he travels to the United States where he lives as a working-class member and falls in love with the enigmatic Lisa McDowell, whom he tries to woo by taking a job at her father’s business.
Eddie Murphy and John Landis were collaborating for the second time after Trading Places and nearly came to blows due to their difference of opinions. Yet, the film turned out to be a commercial success with Murphy playing many roles in his usual lively and energetic manner, lighting up the otherwise weak script with his power-packed performance.
“I want a woman that is going to arouse my intellect as well as my loins.”
Dolemite Is My Name (Craig Brewer, 2019)
This biographical film is set in 1970s Los Angeles where Rudy Ray Moore is a struggling black artist who tries hard to get his music on-air in the radio station. Soon he creates an outlandish persona known as Dolemite and with a crude comedy routine filled with profanities, gains crowd attention. After he realises the position of black people in films, he soon decides to make his own blaxploitation film that can either make him successful or send him neck-deep into debts, while carrying on with his outrageous persona of Dolemite.
Eddie Murphy inarguably delivered the best performance of his career as Rudy Ray Moore in this film. Although his unparalleled acting of the brash and hilarious Moore deserved an oscar, but as always, he did not even receive a nomination. However, his wonderful performance remains etched in the hearts of the audience in this bizarre biographical drama.
“Dolemite is my name, and fuckin’ up motherfuckers is my game!”
I Spy (Betty Thomas, 2002)
Based on the eponymous TV series starring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby, the film focuses on a black boxer named Kelly Robinson who goes undercover to help a spy named Special Agent Alex Scott. On his mission, Scott tries to thwart the insidious plans of a gun runner to sell a dangerous stealth bomber to whoever is willing to pay the maximum amount. As Robinson and Scott’s friendship grows, their paths are littered with more notorious obstacles.
A weak script failed to uphold the sheer comedic genius of both Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson. Unlike its predecessor that was filled with laughter and mirth, this film lacks the burst of creative energy. However, Murphy and Wilson make it bearable and hilarious to a certain extent.
“My hunches are correct 7 out of 10 times. That’s a high-ass ratio!”
Shrek franchise (Andrew Adamson, Mike Mitchell, Conrad Vernon, Kelly Asbury, Chris Miller, 2001-2010)
A green ogre living in the swamps befriends an idiosyncratic chatterbox of a donkey before embarking on a daunting mission to save a princess from her cursed fate as commissioned by a vile and ugly prince. Soon he ends up marrying the princess yet their union is shunned and looked down upon before the kind-hearted ogre proves his mettle as a loving and caring person. However, life is never a fairytale and they meet obnoxious challenges on their path to finding true happiness. This is, in short, the saga of Shrek, Fiona and Donkey’s journey towards a happily ever after.
Who thought a green, monstrous ogre and an obnoxious Donkey would become a popular children’s favourite? Mike Myers as Shrek and Eddie Murphy as Donkey are voice actors who show distinguished camaraderie in every scene. Murphy’s voiceover as the absolutely hilarious and gibberish-sputtering Donkey makes him one of the most loved characters in the franchise.
“Don’t worry. Things seem bad because it’s dark and rainy and Fiona’s father hired a sleazy hitman to whack you. It’ll be better in the morning.”