It was announced yesterday that the guy who voices Donkey in the Shrek movies — I think his name is Eddie something? — will host next year’s Academy Awards, to be held on February 26, 2012, surely upsetting dozens of Billy Crystal fans hoping he’d receive the honor for a ninth time. Many denizens of The Internet have cried foul at the news (here, here, etc.), but I couldn’t be happier. I mean, we’re talking about the star of Beverly Hills Cop, Raw, and Coming to America. Sure he’s made a Pluto Nash here and a Dr. Dolittle 2 there, but that doesn’t mean Murphy doesn’t have the funny left in him anymore, and I think it will come out at the Oscars. Here are five reasons why, in handy list-form.
1. No CGI and Fat Suits
Take a look at Eddie’s Murphy filmography. His supposed downfall can be traced back to 1990, when he appeared in Another 48 Hrs. What followed were forgettable adult comedies, like Boomerang and Beverly Hills Cop III, then The Nutty Professor in 1996, which made Murphy the children’s movie mega-star he is today. But if you disregard all the CGI-heavy films over the past 15 years, things aren’t as bad as they seem. Sure, Holy Man and Showtime kind of really sucked, but Bowfinger, Life, and Dreamgirls are all very enjoyable and all good-to-very good, with fine performances from Murphy in all three. (Don’t forget TV series The PJs, either, which Murphy co-created.) Murphy won’t be able to act with a miniature version of himself or play a nightclub owner IN SPACE at the Oscars (right, Brett Ratner, right…?), so it will just be him up there, not him as a donkey. And that’s a good thing, because…
2. Live Eddie Murphy Is the Best Eddie Murphy
Murphy’s greatest attribute is his raw (GET IT!), manic personality, where one second he’s screaming at the camera and the next he’s as calm as his kitten. And in between, he makes the ladies (and men) swoon (listen to the crowd go ballistic at the beginning of this clip). He didn’t care who he was offending (more on that later), because he’s offending everyone, with still-risque bits about slavery, racism, and gay people. He was volatile back in the day, and a) I think he still has it in him, and b) even if he doesn’t, I’d rather take a chance on Murphy than Crystal (the kind of comedian Murphy made fun of at the end of Coming to America) or Bob Hope. After all, there’s a reason why Eddie Murphy’s face is the main photo for the ubiquitous “Six Comedians We Wish Would Return to Standup” article on Splitsider’s Most Popular list.
3. The Oscars Could Be Dangerous
I didn’t mind the hosting job done by Anne Hathaway and James Franco for last year’s Oscars, even though she was trying too hard and he treated it like a performance piece. But weed jokes aside, Hathaway and Franco played it safe; there’s no way either one of them was going to say anything too mean about someone like Jack Nicholson. But Eddie Murphy would, and Eddie Murphy will. Remember the last time he was given a forum as the Oscars? That was back in 1988, when he presented the award for Best Picture, but first went into a speech about how the Academy only giving out statues to black actors once every 20 years. You never know what he might say or do, and if it means there’s a chance he’ll stray from the Bruce Vilanch-written script, all the better. He also pretty much hates everything the Oscars represent, which is why he rarely does interviews, and he could do what Ricky Gervais did to the Golden Globes: take the self-seriousness out of the affair.
4. Think of the Jokes!
Do you remember when Paul Reubens appeared on the MTV Movie Awards as Pee-Wee Herman in 1991, his first public appearance since getting arrested for masturbating in an adult theater? The first thing he said was, “Heard any good jokes lately?” Boom, his career was saved, and now Reubens’ starring on Broadway. The Oscars would be a great opportunity for Murphy to make fun of the second half of his career, beginning with Vampire in Brooklyn, all the way up to Donkey’s Christmas Shrektacular. He would come across as someone humble, and he’s enough of a star that he doesn’t have to worry about damaging his career. It’s win-win, and he’ll need all the good will he can muster after the release of Tower Heist.
5. Because Goddamnit, I Still Like the Guy
Even with all the Norbit-level garbage he’s been in, all the shit that he’s done to hurt his career (like when he stormed out of the Academy Awards after not winning the Best Supporting Actor award in 2007), I still root for Eddie Murphy, hoping he’ll return to the glory days of Beverly Hills Cop and Trading Places and Delirious, the same way I still listen to every Weezer album, hoping they’ll record one more song as good as “Jamie.” It’s probably false hope, sure, but oh, to hear that laugh, to see that suit just one more (party all the) time.
Josh Kurp just knows Eddie Murphy will appear on-stage wearing one of his infamous leather suits.