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The goal of a movie producer is to produce a film that will not only entertain but also make a great deal of money at the box office. The goal of a movie producer of comedy is not only to achieve all of the above but also to make people laugh and thus score a success not only as a movie that audience would love to watch with their family and friends but also to spread the word that it is a great film.
In this regard, there is no better example of a highly successful comedy movie than Beverly Hills Cop starring Eddie Murphy as a Detroit cop who went beyond his jurisdiction to capture the killer and mastermind of the murder of his friend. Although the movie was entertaining enough to gross more than a hundred million dollars, there is another side to the comedy, which is a satirical view of the ,lives of the rich.
It is difficult to describe the huge success of Beverly Hills Cop without going through some details such as the fact that in i,ts first week alone the movie brought in $14.4 million and that was in the decade o,f the 80s, surely that was a major hit (Batchelor & Stoddart, p. 152). It was an overwhelming success that sequels were made, two of them.
And it was not only the viewing public who had a taste of the impact of Beverly Hills Cop; it turned out that even music lovers also appreciated the music tracks in the movie and as a result, the soundtrack became number one (Batchelor & Stoddart, p. 152). It was a huge hit, and for those who are interested in creating the same commercially successful movie must take a closer look into this movie.
Reasons for Success
One of the primary reasons why this film was successful is because the producers chose Eddie Murphy to play the lead role. He was just perfect for the movie because he was young, street-smart, and black (Palmer, p. 293). The second reason why it worked so well is the perfectly assembled cast.
And finally, the third reason why it was a major draw is because of the plot. It was fresh, not like the ordinary Hollywood fare that was served at that time. Consider for instance, the novelty of story wherein a young black cop from Detroit who went to Beverly Hills. He was way beyond his jurisdiction, but he went nevertheless because of his desperation to solve the murder of a friend.
Axel a Foley’s physical appearance and the mannerisms of a street-hardened police officer that makes one think that he spent a great deal of time as an undercover cop contrasted heavily with the sophisticated surroundings of one of the most affluent communities in the United States.
The name Beverly Hills was synonymous to high-end products such as Gucci, Prada, and Italian-made cars, clothes, and leather. However, it can be argued that there is another reason why the film grossed beyond the one-hundred-million-mark. The fourth and final reason why audiences around the world responded well to th;is movie is because of the use of satire.
One commentator provided a good definition of satire and he said that satire is: “A text or performance that uses irony, derision, or wit to expose or attack human vice, foolishness, or studipidy” (Nordquist, p.1). This is a very helpful definition and in order to apply it to the movie it is important to take note of the following terms that the author used in clarifying the meaning of this term:
- human vice;
These terms will be used to go through the movie and find out how Axel Foley used irony, derision, and wit to make an acerbic commentary against the people of Beverly Hills.
Irony can be seen in how the public expected so much from Beverly Hills and less of Axel Foley and yet the reverse was true. In the film a young black man from Detroit ventured into what can be considered as uncharted territory for him.
He was poor compared to the ordinary denizen of Beverly Hills. He was out of place and one should expect that Foley was way beyond his league and he should have stopped his investigation and with his tail behind his legs make a about-face and return to where he came from. And yet he did not give up and instead he proved to them that a person from Detroit can handle Beverly Hills.
It was ironic that the Beverly Hills police force was all about appearance but lacking in substance. This was demonstrated by the difference in their manner of clothing. Foley was wearing something as if he just came from a high school class while his counterparts were wearing something as if they came out of a business meeting and yet they had no clue as to what was happening in their own backyard.
An outsider has to come in to help them clean up their mess but they thought everything was in perfect order because judging from the appearance of the clean and beautiful town no one should have expected anything wrong. But the irony is that there was a festering wound and some of the supposedly model citizens had no qualms murdering another human being in cold blood.
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Foley used derision to make the Beverly Hills police force realize that they cannot destroy criminal syndicates if they continue to treat suspects as if they were their concierge and not law enforcers.
He used wit to make a subtle criticism of the ineptitude of one of the world’s most well-maintained police force and yet could not get the job done. In one scene when he was locked-up in jail because of his antics and yet released just as quickly he feigned displeasure upon hearing that he was set-free and he asked the police officer if he can stay a little longer because it was the first time he was in a jail cell that has a phone booth inside and he was wondering if he can order pizza from there.
In another scene when he was on his way to the police station and the Beverly Hills police had him arrested and placed inside a police car, Foley commented that the car is so nice and that he had never been inside a police car that was as clean and beautiful as that one. And yet if faced by toughened criminals and the elements of the criminal underworld they would not be able to do apprehend them as easily as they apprehended a police officer from Detroit who merely played along with the charade.
The movie also used satire to comment on human vice. There was the famous scene when Foley entered Beverly Hills in his beat-up car and it was as if he was drowned in luxury because of the imported cars that passed by. There were exotic red sports cars and there were women who wore expensive clothes and fancy dresses as if they are going to a party somewhere but they were simply walking their dog.
In another scene Foley clutched his belly in an attempt to show how flabbergasted he was when he encountered two men who wore costumes from a sci-fi movie. For him it was foolish to be walking around town with those types of attire but apparently it was no big deal for the people of Beverly Hills.
For Foley it was foolishness to spend a great deal of money for something that does not add value to the person. This was highlighted in one scene when Foley went into an ultra-exclusive country club where millionaires play. Foley of course could not enter in because he was not a member and he was not dressed right to blend in with the crowd.
The person at the reception perhaps thought that Foley was underneath him and then Foley began to act out that he is a lover of one of the members and he would not hesitate to make a scene if he is not allowed entry.
The receptionist of course wanted him to calm down and gave him the authority to go inside the club. This is a satire against the need to maintain a squeaky clean appearance and nothing was done to deal with the problem, the general rule is that no one should rock the boat and everyone should be happy so that the establishment will continue to make money.
Point of View
It has been made clear that the movie Beverly Hills Cop was not only successful because of Eddie Murphy and a wonderful cast but because of something else. It was not only a money-making project for Paramount pictures because it has a good plot. Another major reason why the movie was a major draw can also be attributed to the fact that it used satire effectively.
It was not just the action and the comedy but it was also the subtle mockery of a system that allowed greed and excess to reign supreme. It was also a harsh comment on an efficient community that prided itself in sophistication but it was only beautiful and admirable based on external appearance because deep down it was rotting like dead flesh.
Audiences around the world understood the underlying message that it is not good to judge a book by its cover and that vanity does not always make the person look good it can sometime make them foolish.
There were many reasons why the movie easily passed the one-hundred-million-dollar mark, a milestone coveted by movie producers. The actors were brilliant. Eddie Murphy demonstrated his unique combination of talents that forces an audience to focus on the screen.
However, the producers of the film used satire to bring home a more profound message about human vice, excess, and foolishness as the denizens of Beverly Hills were only focus on money and so needed the expertise of a Detroit cop to show them that a person must be judged on his inner- value and not by the price of his watch, his clothes, and his car. Satire was the key.
Batchelor, Bob & Scott Stoddart. The 1980s. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007.
Nordquist, Richard. “Satire.” 2010. Web.
Palmer, W. The film of the Eighties: A Social History. IL: Southern Illinois University, 1993.