Beverly Hills Cop
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie features young comedian Eddie Murphy at the height of his fast-talking and foulmouthed power. Much of what makes the film funny is his use of obscene or at least inappropriate language in a multitude of situations. While he is a cop, his character, Axel Foley, uses the "ends justify the means" approach to police work, and almost every scene involves him lying to various people in order to pursue his goal. Violence is not pervasive, but when it appears, it's rendered realistically -- fistfights leave marks and gunshots produce blood and/or death. Sex is not a major factor in the film, but there is a scene that takes place in a strip club that does feature female nudity.
What's the story?
Detroit police officer Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) experiences a severe case of culture shock when clues in the murder of his good friend lead him to Beverly Hills. Put under the watchful eyes of two Beverly Hills cops (Judge Reinhold and John Ashton), the maverick outsider infuriates his superiors and rattles the ritzy city with his wildly unorthodox detective skills. But, Axel's entertaining antics expose the truth about Victor Maitland, a British art dealer who turns out to be the crime king who killed Foley's friend. It all comes down to an on-the-edge-of-your-seat shootout at Maitland's Beverly Hills mansion.
Is it any good?
Twenty-plus years after its original release, BEVERLY HILLS COP has not aged quite as well as one might have hoped. In its day, Eddie Murphy's rapid-fire, uncensored wisecracking was almost revelatory for a big screen comedy, but since then, it has lost some luster. That's not to say that Murphy's Axel Foley isn't charming. It's still easy to side with Foley's mission to bring his friend's killer to justice. Yet this alone doesn't quite buoy the film as it did when it was completely fresh.
The soundtrack is definitive cheesy 1980s pop, however, the film stands above many subsequent action comedies. The look of it is impeccable, creating a time capsule of Beverly Hills's excess. Also, the action is relatively pared down to short but meaningful bursts, making it less cartoonish than a Tango & Cash (1989) or a Bad Boys (1995). That's why even with the age spots, BEVERLY HILLS COP still stands out as a stellar example of its genre. However, it is absolutely not appropriate for kids.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about the following: Are Axel's illegal methods justified by the criminal behaviors of his suspects? What about the situations where his lying and scheming has no material effect on his investigation (as when he lies to an hotel clerk to get a room)? How much of the humor of the film is based solely on vulgar language? Would the film be as funny without it? Is it realistic that most of the characters are charmed by Axel's behavior? How does the humorous tone of most of the movie work with the more serious moments of violent action?