Keep the Peace

Beverly Hills Cop III isn’t a total rehash like Beverly Hills Cop II, but none of its changes worked out. The unnecessary third installment took 7 years to make, yet it still ended up being the worst film in the trilogy. With a pitiful 9% on Rotten Tomatoes, Beverly Hills Cop III was torn apart by everyone including Eddie Murphy. The only awards attention it got were Razzies. Although John Landis directed two successful Eddie Murphy comedies, the problem mostly lies with the latter. For some reason Detective Axel Foley is so serious that he isn’t even funny anymore.

He once again moves from Detroit to Beverly Hills in order to track his police chief’s killer. Though the actual setting isn’t funny either. Turns out setting an R rated action flick in an amusement park is as ridiculous as it sounds. I say R rated, but Beverly Hills Cop III is a 90’s movie that could’ve easily been PG-13. Apart from language and over-the-top violence, there’s no nudity or drug use. Wonder World is a standard Disney World stand-in ran by a counterfeit operation led by John Saxton. The latest female lead also works at the park. This time Judge Reinhold is the only returning character as a promoted Billy Rosewood.

Reinhold actually began The Santa Clause trilogy the same year he finished the Beverly Hills Cop trilogy. Taggart is replaced by Héctor Elizondo and Bogomil is never mentioned. The only other returning character is the eccentric Serge from the first movie in an overlong bit about superweapons. Foley uses one of the weapons and ends up in several silly situations. He’s forced to wear an elephant costume and scale an amusement park ride. There are celebrity cameos, but they’re all filmmakers that no average person would recognize (except for maybe George Lucas). Until they make a IV, Beverly Hills Cop III is weak way to end Axel Foley’s career.

Beverly Hills Cop III

Axel Foley in Rosewood’s office

Preceded by: Beverly Hills Cop II

Shakedown

Beverly Hills Cop II is the same old case it was before. The unexpected popularity of Beverly Hills Cop nearly led to a TV series, but a sequel made more sense. So Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, and pretty much everyone else returned. The only major change was the director. Top Gun director Tony Scott’s style can be seen in the orange mood setting L.A. sunsets. Although most people (including Eddie Murphy) thought Beverly Hills Cop II was mediocre, it was still a relative success. Despite the R rating, Beverly Hills Cop II is actually the first film to win the Kid’s Choice Award for Favorite Movie. The 80’s were a weird time.

It’s only Oscar nomination was for the catchy Bob Seger song “Shakedown.” The iconic “Axel F” theme still plays non-stop throughout the movie. Beverly Hills Cop II sees Detective Axel Foley back in Detroit with a new suit and Ferrari. He ditches both to help his friends back in Beverly Hills. Foley is the same fast-talking, story fabricating cop he was before, but almost none of his jokes landed for me. It was enough just to see him play off his fellow buddy cops. After the friendly Lieutenant Bogomil is shot, Foley works with Rosewood & Taggart to solve a new case. Both officers are given a lot more attention.

Taggart talks about his messy love life and Rosewood is shown to have several unusual habits. Bogomil’s daughter is the latest female lead who helps out. The new case is a series of robberies dubbed the “Alphabet Crimes.” They’re headed by 80’s mainstay Brigitte Nielsen. Several celebrity cameos include Gilbert Gottfried, Chris Rock, and Hugh Hefner in an out of nowhere Playboy Mansion scene. Of course there’s another strip club scene, another car chase involving a cement mixer, and another more explosive climactic shootout. Beverly Hills Cop II is still a mostly entertaining bust.

Beverly Hills Cop II

Axel Foley presents his badge

Preceded by: Beverly Hills Cop & Followed by: Beverly Hills Cop III

Axel F

Beverly Hills Cop solidified Eddie Murphy’s A-list status. 48 Hrs. may have been his big break, but Beverly Hills Cop is really the success he needed. Yet both buddy cop movies couldn’t be more different. Beverly Hills Cop is a major pop culture presence that became the highest grossing movie of 1984. Which is really saying something considering how big the year was. It was even nominated for several major awards. Winning the People’s Choice Award for Best Motion Picture and the Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack Album. For the longest time I never knew the iconic “Axel F” theme came from Beverly Hills Cop.

Mostly because it took me so long to see the movie. My expectations were high and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s not as laugh out loud hilarious as I was expecting, but this is witty action hero Eddie Murphy. The foul mouthed, street smart, loose cannon role of Axel Foley was originally meant for either Mickey Rourke or Sylvester Stallone. Stallone wanted a serious action film, but Murphy and the director Martin Brest lightened the mood. You can tell by Murphy’s fast talking improvisation and signature goofy laugh. The R rating was kept in tact with all the drugs, profanity, bloody shootouts, and impromptu strip club visits that made the 80’s great.

After a botched undercover mission, Detroit Detective Axel Foley uses his vacation time to investigate the murder of his friend Mikey. So he becomes a fish out of water to the straightlaced Beverly Hills cops. Although labeled a buddy cop flick, Foley has multiple allies. There’s his beautiful childhood friend Jenny, understanding police Lieutenant Bogomil, uptight Sergeant Taggart, and clueless Detective Rosewood. Judge Reinhold is the closest thing to an official co-star. On his own, Foley gets pushed around, thrown out a window, and uncovers a cocaine operation led by his friend’s killer Victor Maitland. Beverly Hills Cop strikes the right balance between humor and thrills.

Beverly Hills Cop

Axel Foley approves

Followed by: Beverly Hills Cop II

Don’t Tell Her About the WABAC

Mr. Peabody & Sherman is the best adaptation of a Jay Ward cartoon, yet it still failed at the box-office. Proof that some properties are just too old fashioned to appeal to kids. Which is unfortunate considering how much care went into Mr. Peabody & Sherman. Although it could’ve been released closer to Dudley Do-Right and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, a live-action movie wouldn’t have worked. So the project was put off until DreamWorks Animation gained the rights. Rob Minkoff was still attached as director. Making this his first animated movie since The Lion King. Peabody’s Improbable History was another segment of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show that taught viewers about history. Although a Rocky & Bullwinkle short was omitted from theaters, the movie did spark a successful traditionally animated Netflix series.

My only exposure to Mr. Peabody & Sherman was in a humorous Simpsons cameo (“Quiet, you”). I wasn’t sure how to feel about a movie, but my brother and I had fun with it. Computer animation was the right call with a simplistic design that honors the look of the cartoon. Although Robert Downey Jr. was considered, Ty Burrell is just as good as the world’s smartest dog Mr. Peabody. All his many accomplishments are given a modern update, but adopting a boy named Sherman is exactly the same. Young Peter Parker himself Max Charles voices Peabody’s bespectacled boy. There’s an abundance of puns and immature jokes, but the relationship between a dog and his boy is the heart of the movie. Allison Janney threatens Mr. Peabody’s right to raise a human as social worker Ms. Grunion. Fellow Modern Family co-star Ariel Winter is also added as Sherman’s cute but mean classmate Penny Peterson who calls him a dog.

A dinner date with her parents (voiced by Leslie Mann and Stephen Colbert) sets off a series of time travel hijinks. The most memorable part of the original cartoon was the WABAC Machine. The much more unique rules of time travel have no effect on the past, but you can’t travel to your own time. Throughout the movie, Mr. Peabody, Sherman, and Penny end up in the French Revolution, Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War. Encountering exaggerated versions of historical figures like Marie Antoinette, Maximilien Robespierre, King Tut, Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa, King Agamemnon, Albert Einstein, George Washington, and several others. Celebrities like Stanley Tucci, Patrick Warburton, or Mel Brooks make them funny, but that depends on how well you know history. Mr. Peabody & Sherman is highbrow entertainment in a vibrant package.

26. Mr. Peabody and Sherman

Mr. Peabody and Sherman in the WABAC

Moose and Squirrel

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle is better than Dudley Do-Right, but that didn’t keep it from bombing at the box-office. From the late 90’s to the early 2000’s there was an unusual fascination with Jay Ward cartoon adaptations. Most of which originated from The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends cartoon. My parents watched the show, but my brother and I were clueless when we saw it in theaters. Although I was 5, we enjoyed the movie enough to keep watching it on VHS. Rocky and Bullwinkle is a guilty pleasure for me despite its reputation and out of the box plot. A plot that frankly honors the nature of the original show. Rocky and Bullwinkle may star an anthropomorphic moose and flying squirrel, but it’s actually quite sophisticated with political themes and real world parallels.

So it only made sense for Rocky J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose to enter the real world as cartoon characters. Giving the movie an extremely meta angle where they interact with the narrator, point out plot holes, and call attention to celebrity cameos. Including Randy Quaid, Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal, Janeane Garofalo, John Goodman, and even Kenan Thompson & Kel Mitchell. Even with its modern spin, the movie respects the classics enough to keep June Foray as Rocky. Keith Scott does an admirable job replacing Bill Scott as Bullwinkle. They’re struggling cartoon characters sent to New York in order to stop their archenemies.

Rocky deals with regaining his flight and Bullwinkle is mostly concerned with getting to Washington. Piper Perabo keeps Rocky and Bullwinkle on the right path as original FBI agent Karen Sympathy. A more comical Robert De Niro is forced to recreate his Taxi Driver line as the ruthless Pottsylvanian Fearless Leader. While he’s busy trying to take over the world through television, Boris and Natasha are trying to kill Moose and Squirrel. Jason Alexander and Rene Russo are mostly good as live-action cartoons. The Who Framed Roger Rabbit similarities are made very apparent. The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle isn’t always smart, but it may reach any audience that gives it a chance.

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle

Rocky, Bullwinkle, and Karen Sympathy address the nation

Meet Your Mountie

Dudley Do-Right is no George of the Jungle. Despite being based on another cartoon by Jay Ward and starring Brendan Fraser. Dudley Do-Right has always had a bit of a reputation with my family. I saw it when I was 4 and never watched it again. 22 years later I can understand why it was so bad. George of the Jungle has always been a personal favorite of mine, but Dudley Do-Right is just too off-beat to have a movie. Not even with a narrator announcing everything. Dudley Do-Right was once a segment from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

The simple premise saw dimwitted Canadian mountie Dudley Do-Right riding his Horse backwards and saving damsel in distress Nell Fenwick from the dastardly villain Snidely Whiplash. Nothing about that screams cinematic potential. Dudley Do-Right starts with a Fractured Fairy Tale that’s honestly better than the entire movie. I appreciate Brendan Fraser, but all he has to work with is painful slapstick. Sarah Jessica Parker is a shallow Nell who never ends up tied to a train track. Even Horse doesn’t stick around for very long.

Only Alfred Molina feels like he’s embracing the ridiculousness of Snidely Whiplash. The movie’s premise has something to do with a gold rush that inserts a lot of Eric Idle in the story. There’s also a cringey amount of Indian jokes and out of place 90’s pop culture references. Eventually the movie kind of gives up on Dudley Do-Right by modernizing everything about him. I have no idea who the target demographic is supposed to be. Dudley Do-Right does wrong in every way.

Dudley Do-Right

Dudley Do-Right on Horse

The Boys Are Back in Town

Another 48 Hrs. is exactly what the title suggests. I never even heard of the sequel for a long time. Although the director returns, Another 48 Hrs. feels like it came out too late. Between 1982 and 1990, Eddie Murphy was a big star more than worthy of top-billing. Nick Nolte was no slouch either, but neither needed to follow up their concept driven buddy cop movie. Another 48 Hrs. never mentions a time limit, yet the movie feels almost exactly the same.

Jack Cates is softened up, but he’s still the mean cop dealing with a criminal case. This time he’s the one who might go to jail after a botched manslaughter incident. Reggie Hammond is still in jail despite previously having 6 months on his sentence. As expected, Jack and Reggie are right back to fighting each other. Murphy and Nolte still have a unique chemistry, but it’s wasted on a barely funny script.

Although edgy like the first movie, the R rating isn’t as exploited. The criminals to catch aren’t that different either. One of the bikers is the brother of Ganz and the mystery man behind it is named Iceman. The case is overly complex with too many players crossing Jack and Reggie’s path. Some of the confusion is likely thanks to the sequel being trimmed down to reach the hour and a half length of the first 48 Hrs. It’s quick, but that’s even more reason why Another 48 Hrs. doesn’t leave an impression.

Another 48 Hrs.

Jack Cates and Reggie Hammond on the job

Preceded by: 48 Hrs.

The Cop and the Convict

48 Hrs. popularized the buddy cop genre. It also gave us Eddie Murphy in his breakout feature film debut. He was already making a name for himself on Saturday Night Live, but 48 Hrs. really turned him into a star. The idea for a 48 hour buddy cop movie is as old as the 70’s. Although it could’ve starred Clint Eastwood and Richard Pryor, Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy are just as good. Nolte gets top billing since this is basically his movie until Murphy shows up.

48 Hrs. centers on deadly criminals loose in San Francisco. A very young James Remar is Albert Ganz and Sonny Landham plays his first of two Native Americans named Billy. Nolte is the mean cop Jack Cates with the traditional strained home life and hot-headed boss. Annette O’Toole plays his angry girlfriend Elaine. The first act is pretty serious with R rated shoot-outs and traditional 80’s nudity. It only gets funny when Jack recruits black convict Reggie Hammond.

As a former accomplice of Ganz, Reggie is the only person who can track him down on a 48 hour prison leave. It’s not always a laugh riot, but Murphy really proves his star power. Reggie messes with country boys in a bar and desperately wants to have sex. Jack and Reggie are polar opposites with unexpected chemistry that only the 80’s could pull off. Jack seems racist, but they really become good friends after they fight things out. He even lets Reggie have a gun to help when his money becomes part of the crime. 48 Hrs. works thanks to the commitment of its leading men.

48 Hrs.

Jack Cates and Reggie Hammond on the job

Followed by: Another 48 Hrs.

It’s Only a Matter of Time

Old doesn’t age well. After completing his surprise Unbreakable trilogy, Old became M. Night Shyamalan’s first original thriller since The Visit. I say original, but it’s actually based on an obscure French graphic novel called Sandcastle. Shyamalan simply gave it a more literal title and a twist that’s expected at this point. Old seemed like it could either be a second return to form or another awkward mess. I’m happy to say he gets it somewhere down the middle. Old is a genuine so bad it’s good Shyamalan flick on par with The Happening. I saw it by myself and couldn’t contain my laughter. Right from the start we get Shyamalan’s signature awkward dialogue and clunky storytelling.

Character’s literally ask people their name and occupation. Guy and Prisca are a foreign couple vacationing with their children Maddox and Trent. Old isn’t remotely scary, but the concept of rapidly aging on a beach is. It’s a beautiful location that Shyamalan shoots in his usual “artsy” way. Shyamalan’s cameo more directly affects the plot. It involves the rest of the resort goers who end up on the mysterious beach. There’s Charles, his much younger wife Chrystal, their 6 year old daughter Kara, and grandmother. There’s also the interracial couple Patricia and Jarin. Along with a rapper who was there before they showed up.

Although it tries to have the horror of Jaws with a very naked skinny dipper and surprisingly bloody PG-13 moments, the rules don’t always add up. People age at different rates with the kids almost immediately aging into Alex Wolff and Thomasin McKenzie. Of course it is a little uncomfortable to think about kids suddenly going through puberty. Since time speeds up more than just their bodies. As the cast gets smaller, the entertainment value sorta drops. I definitely predicted some variation of the twist, but it gets old real fast. With several ups and downs, Old is a lot like the actual aging process in its execution.

Old

Older Maddox and Trent on a beach

Meow

Cats (2019) is a jellicle failure for jellicle cats. As popular as the Broadway show is, I always wondered why they didn’t make a movie sooner. The 1998 play put to film doesn’t count. I figured it would be some kind of anthropomorphic animated movie, but no one could’ve expected what we actually ended up with. Despite the combined talent of T.S. Eliot, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Academy Award winning director Tom Hooper, Cats bombed hard at the box-office. It’s truly a spectacular catastrophe with nightmarishly bad special effects, a 19% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a Razzie for Worst Picture. I find it laughable that Cats was seriously released around Oscar season. Even with his experience on Les Misérables, Hooper completely misses the mark. The use of humanoid cat people is both disturbing and uncomfortable. I know the original show was vaguely sexual, but this feels like a furry’s dream come true. Making me seriously question the “kid friendly” PG rating.

The CGI fur never looks right on anyone. It got to a point where the movie was re-released to fix glaring technical errors. Just as bad is the bizzare setting that dwarfs every cat in a giant stage-like moonlit city. To be fair to the show that I’m not the biggest fan of, Cats does cast the right people for each part. The songs are already good, but even those aren’t safe from new renditions. The non-plot is sort of ditched to tie each musical cat introduction together with cringey cat puns. Victoria the White Cat is essentially the lead played by ballerina Francesca Hayward. Robert Fairchild has some attention as Munkustrap, but Laurie Davidson is for some reason given an added subplot as magical Mr. Mistoffelees. James Corden and Rebel Wilson are particularly bad with their forced comedy as Bustopher Jones and Jennyanydots. Her scenes are especially disturbing with the inclusion of human faced mice & cockroaches. Skimbleshanks, Mungojerrie, and Rumpleteazer really feel tacked on in a movie.

Singers like Jason Derulo made sense for Rum Tum Tugger, but he ends up feeling like a cat pimp. Taylor Swift is surprisingly good as the sultry Bombalurina. She’s partially responsible for the Oscar bait song “Beautiful Ghosts.” Idris Elba is much more present as the villainous Macavity, but his brown fur makes him look naked. Not even the respected Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Judi Dench are safe. Although forced to drink from a milk bowl, McKellen is okay as the theatrical Gus. There’s nothing wrong with Dench playing a gender swapped Old Deuteronomy, but her solo is off-putting when she stares directly at the audience. Even with the restraint of bad CGI, Jennifer Hudson puts her all into Grizabella the Glamour Cat. Especially with her rendition of “Memory.” The cult-like Jellicles take her to the Heaviside Layer and I’m reminded just how wrong the story is. Cats has to be seen to be believed.

Cats 2019

Cats