Coming to America
If there is one single film that plays to all of Murphy's comedic strengths it's 1988's "Coming to America," which combines his star power, charisma, and ability to portray a wide variety of characters in a comedic tour de force. The highlights of the film are too numerous to mention, and deserve their own article (which you'll see later this week on Spike.com).
The Nutty Professor
Just when it had seemed that Murphy was winding down his career, he reinvented himself as a family-friendly comic lead with his turn in Disney's 1996 remake of "The Nutty Professor," playing the titular character who undergoes a dramatic physical and mental transformation after creating a formula for weight loss. The film also features a return to Murphy's trademark of playing multiple characters, highlighted by a brilliant and memorable scene where he plays every member of the Klump family at the dinner table. Hercules! Hercules! Hercules!
In 1999, Murphy took a departure from his recent spate of family friendly comedies to play a Hollywood star and the lookalike who replaces him in Steve Martin's scathing indictment of Hollywood culture. "Bowfinger" remains one of Murphy's most critically successful movies, and in the years after its release achieved cult status, with many placing it in the pantheon of comedic films.
The final film on our list also remains the only one where Murphy was nominated for an Oscar, owing to the Academy's hesitation to nominate American comedies. In his portrayal of fictional R&B singer James "Thunder" Early, Murphy combines his talent for singing (exhibited in decades of impersonating acts like James Brown and his own music career) with a dramatic performance that stands out amongst an already star-studded cast.
It's finally time to pay an all-star tribute to comedy's original rock star. Tune in to Eddie Murphy: One Night Only on Wednesday, November 14 at 10/9c on SPIKE.