Most discerning filmgoers react the same way when the name Eddie Murphy appears above the title on a film poster as they do when they see a graveyard: by holding their breath and walking past it as quickly as possible. Still, the staggering box-office results for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen prove that most people who hit the multiplexes can’t exactly be classified as “discerning,” which goes a long way toward explaining why Eddie Murphy continues to get paid $20 million each time he makes a movie. However, Murphy’s box-office appeal seems to have taken a recent hit, as both Imagine That and Meet Dave failed to crack the $15 million barrier. This led the New York Times’ Brooks Barnes to ask the tough question: Why would Hollywood studios continue to hire Eddie Murphy for roles that didn’t require him to voice an animated donkey or don a fat suit?
Well, the simple answer is that they haven’t. According to Barnes:
Paramount recently rejected a biopic about Richard Pryor that had Mr. Murphy attached to star. The studio’s plans for a fourth “Beverly Hills Cop” are also stalled. Web sites like Studio System (studiosystem.com) that track movie projects list a remake of “The Incredible Shrinking Man” as one of his next films, but Universal Pictures put that project on the back burner more than a year ago (around the time “Meet Dave” tanked).
Mr. Murphy has other potential projects floating around — a third “Nutty Professor” is in development at Universal — and he has a guaranteed hit next spring in DreamWorks’ “Shrek Forever After,” in which he reprises his vocal role as the sassy Donkey.
While we here at Vulture don’t have a ton of experience casting movies, we will don our agent hat for a second and give Eddie Murphy a free piece of career advice that’s guaranteed to help him win back the hearts of Americans everywhere: Find a script that allows you to play a donkey in a fat suit and watch the laughs — not to mention the money — start rolling in! A reboot of Au hasard Balthazar, perhaps?