List compiled by Eddie on 26/02/2021
A career that’s littered with its fair share of stinkers (here’s looking at you Pluto Nash and Norbit!) but also a large collection of beloved comedic classics, Eddie Murphy rightfully earned his reputation as one of the greatest comedians to make it in Hollywood with a string of commercial and critical hits that have now spanned more than 40 years.
There have been big lean patches in Murphy’s career, namely the mid 2000’s right up until 2019 but in a hectic schedule of releases across the mid 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s, Murphy delivered some of the most memorable comedy outings of that period, often putting in work with multiple roles and dialogue heavy performances that showcased his immense talent to light up a room.
On the back of his role in 2019’s Dolemite Is My Name, it appears as though Murphy has embraced a return to the public eye with stints as a host on Saturday Night Live and some future projects lined up that have the potential to hopefully recapture some past glories with a new Coming to America sequel and another Beverly Hills Cop coming our way.
There’s no doubt that Murphy specialises in a certain brand of comedy and performances but when someone is as talented as Murphy, you can’t begrudge them doing what they do best.
Happy reading and happy watching!
10. The Nutty Professor (1996)
Murphy plays – Sherman Klump/Buddy Love
Undoubtedly low brow stuff but also a fine showcase for the multi-talented skills of Murphy with him playing multiple characters in this comedy box office smash, The Nutty Professor is the perfect silly comedy and is one of the finest examples of how commanding Murphy can be when given the spotlight then running with it uninhibited.
9. Life (1999)
Murphy plays – Rayford Gibson
One of Murphy’s underseen efforts that has mostly slipped into obscurity in today’s age, Life is a surprisingly effective dramedy that allowed Murphy and co-star Martin Lawrence some of the best material to work with in their careers. Following Murphy’s Rayford Gibson and Lawrence’s Claude Banks across multiple decades as the two get wrongly incarcerated in the prohibition era of America, Life is well worth seeking out as an underseen gem.
8. Shrek 2 (2004)
Murphy plays – Donkey (voice)
A surprisingly strong sequel to the surprise animated smash hit, Shrek 2 managed to keep the charm and imagination alive as the Murphy voiced Donkey and the gang that includes Shrek, Fiona and Puss in Boots went on further magical adventures that managed the rare feat of being an animated offering that was appealing to both adults and children.
7. Bowfinger (1999)
Murphy plays – Kit Ramsey/Jiff Ramsey
An underappreciated all star affair that has grown in reputation in the years since its release, the Frank Oz directed Bowfinger is a smart and savvy comedic affair that saw Murphy ply his trade alongside comedic legend Steve Martin as well as co stars such as Robert Downey Jr, Heather Graham and Terrence Stamp. A film that is worth the time revisiting, Bowfinger may surprise you with how well it has aged.
6. Dolemite Is My Name (2019)
Murphy plays – Rudy
When Dolemite Is My Name came out in 2019 it had been numerous years since we had last seen the best of Eddie Murphy, thankfully the Netflix released film reminded us all that Murphy was far from a spent force! Telling the true story of Rudy Ray Moore, a comedic/acting/singing legend from the United States, Dolemite Is My Name gave Murphy one of his best roles as a lead performer and set up what is hopefully a late career comeback for the industry icon.
5. Coming to America (1988)
Murphy plays – Prince Akeem/Clarence
With hype building for the unexpected but now highly anticipated Coming 2 America, one remembers why so many can’t wait to see Murphy’s Prince Akeem back on screen again with this 1988 comedy classic providing a great fish out of water yarn that still manages to entertain these 30 plus years on.
4. Trading Places (1983)
Murphy plays – Billy Ray Valentine
The combination of legendary director John Landis and comedy genius Dan Aykroyd proved to be a winning formula for Murphy in what was astonishingly just his second feature film. A key piece to the huge array of comedic classics of the 1980’s, Trading Places is easily one of Murphy’s best efforts that showed the world his debut the year previous was no fluke.
3. 48 Hrs. (1982)
Murphy plays – Reggie Hammond
Announcing himself in a big way after years on the stand up circuit, Walter Hill’s buddy cop comedy 48 Hrs. will always be remembered as the film that birthed Murphy’s soon to be famous loud mouthed cinematic persona that made him one of the biggest stars of the 80’s and 90’s. The film may be rough around the edges in parts but the team up of Nick Nolte and Murphy managed to against all the odds create sparks that will always ensure 48 Hrs. is a classic of the period.
2. Shrek (2001)
Murphy plays – Donkey (voice)
One of the most beloved animations to appear post 2000 and easily one of the most meme worthy, Shrek proved that Murphy’s energetic and sassy delivery could work without the star being in front of the camera as he bought his kindhearted donkey to life in this hit Dreamworks adventure. A film for both young and old, Shrek is to this day a film for the whole family to enjoy.
1. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Murphy plays – Axel Foley
Murphy’s 4th feature film and a film that sent the box office wild and the critics raving, Beverly Hills Cop was the perfect moulding of material and star with Murphy’s Detroit bred cop Axel Foley tailored made to suit Murphy’s skillset. Directed with a verve and energy by Martin Brest and wonderfully played out by Murphy as Foley delves into a Beverly Hills crime story, one can only hope that the proposed Beverly Hills Cop 4 can recapture some of the charm and genius found in this product.
What are you favourite Eddie Murphy films? Are there any I have missed? Let me know in the comments below!