Vampire In Brooklyn (1995), or The Last Temptation Of Eddie Murphy

3 06 2009

Eddie Murphy’s funny, right? I mean, he’s a comedian, and he makes comedies, so he has to be funny, right? I guess if I have to ask, there’s a problem. The problem is that Eddie Murphy has an apparent case of amnesia. He no longer remembers when he was a funny guy, and nowadays neither do many of the young fans of comedy films. They see movies like The Nutty Professor, Norbit, and The Adventures of Pluto Nash and just assume that the guy was just another Saturday Night Live alum who doesn’t have much to offer outside of sketch comedy. They have no idea that Murphy, at least from what I (a person without amnesia) remember, was one of the funniest voices of his generation, a fast-talking genius who could excel in any comedic format as long as he was given a little free reign. Throughout the 80s, with all the amazing output he delivered in the decade, he must have seemed like a force of nature. I mean, Raw remains one of the few stand-up comedy specials to make me cry more than a drama from its sheer hilarity. But the 90s hit Murphy hard. Maybe the fame got to his head, or maybe he took one too many goofballs, but the entire decade seemed to spell bad luck for the guy. Disastrous output like Boomerang, The Distinguished Gentleman, and the groan-inducing Beverly Hills Cop 3 marked a trail straight to the heart of the 90s, where his comedic slump hit an all-time low with today’s picture, Vampire In Brooklyn. If you were an Eddie Murphy fan during this phase in his career, I sincerely apologize to you, because this must have been a hard pill to swallow.

It follows an evil Caribbean vampire named Maximillian whose ship crash lands in a Brooklyn shipyard. He is in search of a half-human half-vampire descendant of another Caribbean vampire so he can mate with her and keep the line alive. I don’t get it either, but apparently a police officer named Rita is his intended mate, a sexy detective with a mysterious nightmares and a fragmented past. Maximillian hunts her down in the city and attempts to woo her with his suave foreign ways. The plan works, but Rita’s partner, Detective Justice (???), has feelings for her and doesn’t want her getting involved with the Caribbean cad. Little do either of them know his true intentions, and his true identity for that matter…

Just watch the trailer above. You laughing yet? It’s billed as a horror-comedy, but it doesn’t deliver either. “No thanks… I already had Italian.” Yikes. Starring Eddie Murphy and directed by Wes Craven, one would think that this is a match made in heaven to create a successful horror-comedy. But that is assuming a lot, including the assumption that these two weren’t just in it for the cash. It all seems so lazy. The concept alone (vampires can mate, all of a sudden?) is flaky, so the script is not that much better, and in a comedy that would be fine. But this is supposed to offer some scares, so we’re talking in circles at this point.

Angela Bassett tries so hard as Rita to save this stinkbomb, and I actually like her character to an extent, but it just wasn’t enough. We are not really given enough time to like her as a character, though, because when she’s not a victim, she’s a hard-ass cop, and when she’s not either and we can finally get to like her, BAM! Here come the “hilarious” side characters, like Julius, an unfortunate dock worker who runs into Maximillan at the beginning of the film, and has the distinction of becoming some sort of ghoul, decomposing more and more as the film goes on, or Guido, the Italian played by Eddie Murphy in white-face, who is a sheer DELIGHT to listen to! It is just an absolute mess, Angela; sorry.

And what makes it worse is Eddie Murphy’s constant insistence that this is a hilarious supernatural romp. He mugs and grins with the self-assurance of a man who believes that he can fart $100 bills. Whether he’s playing a Caribbean vampire or an Italian stereotype or a pompous black evangelist (yes, Murphy’s proud tradition of playing multiple characters continues here), he just thinks that this is SO DAMN FUNNY! Well, I’m glad you convinced yourself, Mr. Murphy, but what about the rest of us? I’m left with a sour taste in my mouth after an entire 90 minutes waiting in anticipation for “the funny part”,only to find that it never arrived, and it most likely never existed.

Eddie Murphy would go on to have some minor successes (Dreamgirls), and some mind-melting failures (The Adventures of Pluto Nash is the biggest financial loss in movie history!), but I think that he has at least steered clear of repeating this extremely dark part of his career, where it seemed like he might never be funny again. I still don’t find him funny anymore, but at least it looks like his worst days are behind him. We still, unfortunately, have reminders like this on TV all the time, lest we forget that moment in history where one of the funniest guys in the industry lost his greatness. I give Vampire In Brooklyn 3 1/2 Detective Justices out of 10.

Tomorrow I move onto greener pastures with the rock documentary The Who: The Kids Are Alright! Until then!!!

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2 responses

2 10 2009
Jenni David

I have never even heard of pluto nach! If it werent for ‘coming to america’ I would want Murphy on the least wanted list…and I HATE ‘raw’!!!!

2 10 2009
Jenni David

btw it is fate that you picked a vampire movie on my birthday!!

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