Tuesday, October 17, 2006


When I spoke with Little Miss Sunshine producer David Friendly at the movie's premiere bash several months ago, he spoke excitedly about how his next project would utilize some really awful-sounding script that Eddie Murphy had expressed interest in. Murphy, Friendly said, had an eye towards playing the part of a talking spaceship. Looks like he was referring to Starship Dave. Friendly was as amiable as his last name implies (mirroring what I considered to be a harmlessly underwhelming feature that he was there to promote), and said something about how Murphy was one of those actors who manages to emerge with a gem right when people have written him off-- but I'm having a tough time imagining that this movie has the potential to usher in a Second Coming for the guy.

I have to admit that I missed out on catching Murphy's most recent top-billed appearances (
The Haunted Mansion, anyone? Hello?), but he still managed to latch onto Shrek, one of the strongest CG-driven franchises out there, with great comedic agility alongside another floundering SNL vet, Mike Myers. Still, I hate to rely on cheap puns to make a point, but if the best performance a brilliant comedian can muster is a braying ass...well, good for him. But whatever happened to kicking ass for 48 Hours straight? Donkey is a great creation-- I think he holds together the cheesy plotting of both the first and second entries in the Shrek series-- but I question whether this is truly the Murphy whose genius has become a part of comic history.

Murphy's famous skit on SNL as a black man in white disguise discovering the absurd luxuries of joining the more privileged portion of racial inequality is the antecedent for Dave Chappelle's blind white supremecist. But while Chappelle veered away from the spotlight when it began to eclipse on the singularity of his vision, Murphy apparently allowed the commercial industry to impede on his routine and homogenize the talent embodied by his initially unique niche. In short, he has yet to remove his social camouflage.


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