It's nice to see a film at various points within your life and have an evolving point of view with each viewing. Far be it for me to imbue something so profound with Beverly Hills Cop, but I remember renting this from my video store when I was 13 and two things happened while watching it: first, I laughed so hard I was crying because Eddie Murphy's performance was hilarious, hands down. Second was the language in the film took me back a step or two. It's not like I was puritanical or anything, but it was surprising to see how many profanities were used. I had seen Murphy's films before and even for this, it was a surprise. As I've seen it through the years though, while I've still relished the scenes Murphy is in, it's the impact his presence had on other characters (among other things) that have made it fun viewing.
Written by Daniel Petrie Jr. (Shoot to Kill) and directed by Martin Brest (Meet Joe Black), Murphy plays Axel Foley, a young, brash, Detroit police detective who bends rules as far as he can, but manages to secure results in the process. His friend surprises him with a visit after spending time in California, but the two are assaulted and Axel's friend is murdered. Rather than pursue the leads from the case in Detroit, Axel "goes on vacation" to California, specifically Beverly Hills, where he runs into their mutual friend and lets her know of his plans. He bumps into the Beverly Hills police on the way, specifically Detectives Taggart (John Ashton, Gone Baby Gone), Rosewood (Judge Reinhold, Fast Times at Ridgemont High) and Lieutenant Bogomill (Ronny Cox, Deliverance). Their by the book way of solving crime goes against Axel's trimming the corners type of style, particularly as Axel closes in on a local businessman responsible for the murder (Steven Berkoff, The Tourist).
The movie itself couldn't have been released at a more opportune moment. Murphy was still wowing audiences on a weekly basis on Saturday Night Live and following a year when 48 Hours received both popular and critical attention, and his stand-up special Delirious became a touchstone for many comics today. Yet Murphy's casting as the lead in what was primarily an action film was a bit of a surprise at the time, particularly when one looks at the action names tossed around for the lead initially. But Murphy managed to carry the story along well, using a mix of adequate acting and comic genius that far exceeded his 23 years of age at the time of the film's release. He managed to still produce a laugh or two that could have very easily been pulled from his act, but his adaptability to the story made for laughs beyond what others could have acquired in the Foley role. His style of police work and good-natured personality was infectious not only for the viewer, but for Taggart and Rosewood, whose stiff outward nature loosens up as the film goes on.
It's the last part that I've grown to love and appreciate more through the years, and specifically Reinhold's performance in it. You could almost tell Billy Rosewood was a guy who has never interacted with a black man aside from escorting him out of somewhere or flat out arresting him. But Axel shows Billy that one can seemingly enjoy life and their work, even as that work puts their respective lives on the line. That's the part I've grown to love over the years, particularly as Murphy's hilarity still holds up more than a quarter century since the film was released, where countless others have tried (and failed) to steal the formula Brest and company managed to hit a homer with.
It's for that reason that Beverly Hills Cop remains fun to come back around to and revisit after all these years. The story is what it is, but Murphy helps make it funny and the cast do a great job being his straight men. While it might not be Ikiru (where thoughts on it can change from viewing to viewing), Beverly Hills Cop has some newfound appreciation for many others like myself.
The Blu-ray Disc:
Paramount shows off Beverly Hills Cop in an AVC encoded 1.85:1 high-definition widescreen presentation that doesn't raise the bar much higher than it could have with the source material. Film grain is present when viewing, though image detail lacks a bit on the tighter shots (despite the wider exterior shots looking very good), and there appears to be some DNR in the police station around Murphy. Overall though, the Blu-ray did what it could with the disc and it's an upgrade from the standard definition disc, just not a leaps and bounds uptick in quality.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless track that Beverly Hills Cop sports is nice in idea, but in execution there is not a lot of action through the soundstage, and most of what occurs is in the front speakers. Harold Faltermeyer's music sounds clear as can be and dialogue sounds consistent in the center channel, but there are sparse instances of directional effects or channel panning through the film, and subwoofer engagement is nil. Granted, I wasn't expecting to be wowed by the soundtrack, it just was what it was.
Save for a stills gallery, the extras from the 2002 standard def release have been ported over to this Blu-ray. Brest provides a commentary track for the film that's underwhelming. He has some recall of what occurred on the production, but it's hidden behind long stretches of watching the film, introducing cast members or laughing occasionally at Murphy's comic rants. He also talks about the shots and style of the film then compared to similar films since then. It's not a revealing track by any means, but it's nice to have here.
Following that is "The Phenomenon Begins" (29:11), a retrospective documentary on the phone, its genesis, production and subsequent legacy, featuring interviews with the cast and crew. The cast discuss how they came to the film and how Brest was attached to it. Each discuss what it was like to work with Murphy and there is an on-set anecdote here and there. It's a decent piece, though nothing special. Following that, "A Glimpse Inside the Casting Process" (9:37) is where Casting Director Margery Simpkin recounts when she first saw the actors and what particularly struck her about each, and the actors discuss getting the parts. "The Music of Beverly Hills Cop" (7:49) looks at Faltermeyer's music without actually interviewing him, and Brest talks about working with him and scenes with music in them are used to illustrate what was said in the interviews. A location map of the Beverly Hills locales follows, along with a trailer (2:33).
Beverly Hills Cop remains a fun movie to watch to see Eddie Murphy at the height of his comedic powers and charisma, matched with surprisingly good acting and hidden yuks upon rewatching. Technically it's not going to win any awards, but if you don't have a copy of this yet (or perish the thought, haven't seen it yet), do yourself a favor and travel down memory lane to put bananas in the tailpipe, if you know what I'm saying.