Sunday, July 06, 2008

Dude, Where's Your Career?

I was TV today, as usual, and I saw an ad for a movie starring Eddie Murphy called Meet Dave.

Am I the only one who sees this commercial and thinks, who in their right mind is going to pay money for this?

I don't even know what the movie is about, except that it is somehow related to "Men in Black." What I do know is that it stars Eddie Murphy and that usually means stay away in my language.

Am I being too hard on the guy?

All I know, is that when I was a kid Eddie Murphy was hilarious. He was singing "Wookin pa nub" as Buckweat on Saturday Night Live. He made "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Trading Places." All my friends could quote directly from "Raw."

Then, somewhere around the time Murphy made "The Nutty Professor" things went awry. I don't know if it was because Murphy had kids, or because he wanted to play all of the characters himself, but all of a sudden, he was dressing up in all kinds of fatsuits and doing an awful lot of fart jokes.

What the heck happened?

I'd say that I've been subjected to a ton of bad movies since then, but really, I never watch any Murphy movies anymore. I don't recall if it was "Dr. Doolittle" that put the nail in the coffin, but I stopped even considering watching one of his movies a long time ago. I haven't even seen "Dreamgirls." I know some of you might be thinking about "Shrek" right about now, but does that really count? I don't consider "Shrek" to be a movie that is an Eddie Murphy vehicle. Though I think it may be the reason he is still able to make movies.

But the biggest mystery to me is that he still gets starring roles anymore. I could understand if we were talking about someone like Sean Connery, he's made some bad movies but he still has the cool factor. Murphy? Not so much.

And Murphy isn't the only actor that baffles me. Take John Travolta.

I can't claim to be, or ever have been a huge fan of Travolta, but he had a good thing going after "Pulp Fiction" resurrected his career. He hit a slump after "Saturday Night Fever" and "Urban Cowboy" and no one was more surprised than I was to see him turn up in a Quenton Tarantino film; but it worked. The next thing you knew Travolta was all over the place. He was in some movies that did quite well, from "Face Off" to "Primary Colors." But then, like Murphy, I think his ego may have gotten the better of him as he decided to do "Battlefield Earth." I think we all know what a fiasco that was. I also think it's safe to say it's been a downhill slide ever since.

Now, I'm not suggesting that Murphy or Travolta are the best actors around. Not by a long shot. What I am saying is that they had hot careers at one point. They had figured out a formula that got them good roles and good money and then.... I don't know what. I don't know if they stopped listening to their agents or they started believing their own press. But something went wrong.

Hollywood is littered with the careers of such men (and women). I don't know why I was thinking of these two men in particular. I also think of Nicholas Cage as I write this. He's managed to hang on to moderate success with his "National Treasure" movies, but I think he loses ground every time he makes a "Ghost Rider."

I will say this though, at least Murphy, Travolta and Cage haven't hit the reality TV show circuit. Wouldn't that be sad? Every time I see another has-been celebrity in a reality show I cringe. I mean, how many Baldwin brothers have been on reality shows? What is it about fame that leaves people clinging to it so desperately? Celebreality shows are reason enough for me to never, ever want to be famous. I don't want to cling to last vestige of a career while I toss my dignity aside.

I don't know... I don't have any real point to this post. Mostly I'm just thinking out loud-- so to speak.

But what do you think about people like Murphy who make bad movie after bad movie? Are you as baffled as I am that anyone would actually put money into making these things? Is there an audience for this that I am unaware of? Would anyone pay for "Dr. Doolittle 3?" Did anyone pay to see "Norbit?"


furiousBall said...

Eddie should just concentrate on doing Donkey for the Shrek series

Charles Gramlich said...

I think Murphy has at least a core audience who'll see whatever he makes, but as for me I stopped watching his stuff long ago, just around the time of the Nutty professor. I especially just find the "playing all characters" thing gimmicky and boring.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

He just did a couple of good movies then zilch.

GFS3 said...

I agree. Eddie Murphy movies have become films to avoid -- at all costs.

Steve Malley said...

I think his ongoing crapfests have to do with becoming a parent and changing what he wanted his work to say and do.

Or maybe it's a better way to meet transvestite prostitutes. (Anyone? Bueller?)

And don't blame Travolta *too* much for Battlefield Earth. Everyone on that knew walking in that it was a dog, but it was an L. Ron Hubbard book (Maybe. Sorta. It's complicated, since he was dead at the time. Or something.) and some kind of big old Scientology dream.

History is littered with marginally-bad artists doing crap work to get in with their religious leaders. Just usually, it involves nothing more expensive than fingerpaint...

Carl V. said...

I saw my first trailer for this on tv last night and all I could do was shake my head. You're certainly not alone. I cannot imagine plunking down the $5 discount rate, let alone $10 to see this film. I'm not sure renting it is something I would spend money on.

Ron Simpson said...

The problem with big name actors is they start wanting to be involved in the creative processes of the movies they do. They want to produce, direct, help write them, etc. They do not realize that they SUCK at anything but acting. And the Hollywierd power people let them do it, hoping that they can cash in on their big names.
Some people actually CAN pull off crossing to the other side of the camera (Ron Howard and Mel Gibson come to mind) but for the most part these actors fail and afail spectacularly.
The legions of sycophants in Hollywood need to deal out some tough love and tell these wanna be's that they suck.