Eddie Murphy turned down Ghostbusters to make the movie that would narrowly beat it, as Beverly Hills Cop cleverly comes top of the 1984 box office.
This action-comedy about a cop heading from the wilds of Detroit to the decadence of the West was originally planned to star Sylvester Stallone, who wanted to make the film that would ultimately become Cobra in 1986; another violent, fascistic entry into a filmography full of them.
Thankfully Murphy took over, adding a) a good actor and b) racial subtext of the progressive rather than Stallone kind. Murphy’s Axel Foley (Cobretti in Sly’s script) is likeable and laudable, nudging the boundaries of law enforcement without crossing over into Stallone-style violations of human rights and cinematic decency.
Though this is Murphy’s show, there’s great chemistry among the whole cast; turns from Judge Reinhold, Jonathan Banks and perpetual baddie Steven Berkoff are as easy as the Patti LaBelle songs, even if the theme tune was ruined (like so many childhoods) by Crazy Frog.
Director Martin Brest (so called because Gigli eventually sent his career tits up) effortlessly balances the action, comedy and crime plot, which does nothing new (maverick cop, fish out of water, scene in a strip club etc.) but forms a well-rounded example of this type of movie; as well-oiled as an axle and slick as popcorn grease.