9 Milestones in the Evolution of Eddie Murphy

The Nutty Professor (1996)

Four years later, Murphy left Paramount for Universal to begin a new leg of his career -- the one involving fat suits. As morbidly obese professor Sherman Klump -- in a remake of the 1963 original -- Murphy's character develops a weight loss potion and an arrogant alter ego named Buddy Love. In addition to Sherman and Buddy, Murphy also played five other Klump family members. The film somehow successfully combined sweetness with bathroom humor, garnered positive reviews, won an Oscar (Best Makeup), grossed over $100 million worldwide, inspired a sequel and served as Murphy's official comeback vehicle.

The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)

After a fruitful six years, during which Murphy starred in Bowfinger, The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, Dr. Doolittle, and Dr. Doolittle 2 in addition to voicing characters in Mulan and Shrek, the actor slipped up with the greatest commercial failure of his career, The Adventures of Pluto Nash. In Ron Underwood's sci-fi comedy, Murphy stars as a futuristic nightclub owner investigating the arson of his lunar property. How could this concept possibly misfire, especially with a $100 million budget and co-stars Randy Quaid and Jay Mohr? It is almost impressive how terribly this film did at the box office -- grossing just over $4 million. Today, The Adventures of Pluto Nash is considered one of the worst films ever made.

Dreamgirls (2006)

In spite of all the credibility Murphy burned in Pluto Nash -- or maybe because he had inadvertently set audience expectations so low -- Murphy was able to make an unexpected dramatic breakthrough in Bill Condon's 2006 musical drama film Dreamgirls. As local R&B star Jimmy "Thunder" Early, this phenomenal supporting turn helped revive Murphy's fading star. Although he seemed like a shoo-in for the Oscar -- after winning the Golden Globe and the Screen Actors Guild Award, it was Little Miss Sunshine's Alan Arkin who took home the statuette that year.

Tower Heist (2011)

After stumbling post-Dreamgirls with the other fat suit/multi-character comedy on Murphy's resume, Norbit and the mediocre Imagine That, the actor tries to regain his comedic footing by teaming up with Brett Ratner, Ben Stiller and Alan Alda for this weekend's Ponzi scheme heist comedy. If the film is successful, Murphy could be reborn as a movie star....and if the film bombs, it will provide great material for Murphy when he hosts this year's Academy Awards. Regardless, we hope to see many more milestones (maybe even of the Beverly Hills Cop IV":http://www.movieline.com/2011/10/how-about-brett-ratner-just-makes-beverly-hills-witch-and-calls-it-even.php variety) from the comedic talent. -- just hopefully no others that include futuristic nightclub owners or Murphy's directorial/writing skills.

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  • casting couch says:

    How the heck did this article miss out Coming to America (1988)?

  • Jay says:

    Pluto Nash is mediocre, but nowhere near a qualifying run for the "worst film ever" award. Its abysmal box office makes it look - especially to those who haven't seen it - worse than it actually is, and in all fairness Murphy did far worse (Norbit, I Spy, Daddy Day Care...)
    But he also did way, WAY better, and I agree with Casting Couch that Coming to America should have been included in that article. It's a brilliant comedy, and one that seems much more personal than some other Eddie Murphy vehicles. People kept trashing him back in the 80's for not being the next Bill Cosby, and he hit back with a gem of a film. Moreso, he managed to satirize the African-American bourgeois (the ones that chastised him in the first place for being only a "funny guy" and not some Cliff Huxtable wannabe) without ever being mean-spirited, a feat some of his latter films like the Nutty Professor cannot boast...

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