Movie Reviews

10 Best Eddie Murphy Movies, Ranked

Summary

  • Eddie Murphy is a versatile and talented actor known for his comedic performances in various films.
  • Murphy has been enjoying a career resurgence lately, with sequels to Coming to America and Beverly Hills Cop in the last few years.
  • Murphy’s instantly recognizable voice has made him a standout voice actor in some animated classics.



Since breaking out as a star on Saturday Night Live, Eddie Murphy has developed a reputation as one of the best comedic actors of his generation. Murphy often plays brash but lovable characters surrounded by stick-in-the-mud types. Even in his voice-acting roles, he is usually the comic relief who comes in to undercut the tension. In live-action, Murphy has been a leading man since the 1980s.

Many of Eddie Murphy’s best movies came during his early years. Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America and Trading Places all came out during the 1980s. Since then, his hits have been a little more sporadic, but he has shown that he still has what it takes as a comedic star. As well as being a legendary stand-up comedian, Murphy is a unique movie star with an unfailing charisma.

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10 Bowfinger (1999)

Kit Ramsey & Jiffrenson “Jiff” Ramsey

Bowfinger has Eddie Murphy playing multiple characters, as he does in several movies. Here, he plays action star Kit Ramsey and a hapless lookalike roped into finishing a movie with Steve Martin’s wannabe B-movie director Bobby Bowfinger. Martin and Murphy make a great duo. Martin is grounded and frustrated enough to bring the best out of Murphy’s zany energy in Bowfinger.

Hollywood self-satires aren’t uncommon, but
Bowfinger
is a cut above the average offering.


Hollywood self-satires aren’t uncommon, but Bowfinger is a cut above the average offering. Eddie Murphy parodies some of his own public eccentricities and foibles as the action star Kit Ramsey, and this gives Bowfinger an added layer of humor for his most ardent fans. Bowfinger wraps up on a broadly self-congratulatory note, but it earns this sentimental finale, whereas other movies about making movies can struggle to connect with audiences.

9 48 Hrs. (1982)

Reggie Hammond


48 Hrs

Director
Walter Hill

Release Date
December 2, 1982

By 1982, Eddie Murphy was already a star thanks to his work on Saturday Night Live, but 48 Hrs was his first movie. It remains one of his best over 40 years later. Murphy plays a convict who reluctantly teams up with Nick Nolte’s hardened, street-wise cop as they track down two criminals. Together, their chemistry set the tone for plenty of buddy cop comedies which followed.

Nolte gives the movie just enough credibility as a genuine cop drama, which allows Murphy to satirize every beat with his inimitable style.


Nolte is perfet as the grizzled veteran who has to drag a smart-mouthed criminal around. He gives the movie just enough credibility as a genuine cop drama, which allows Murphy to satirize every beat with his inimitable style. Murphy’s character is a jokester let loose in a serious, tense criminal story, but he’s more than just comic relief. While Murphy does have most of the jokes, he’s also the emotional heart of the movie.

8 Dreamgirls (2006)

Jimmy “Thunder” Early


Dreamgirls

Director
Bill Condon

Release Date
December 25, 2006

It took 25 years for the award-winning Broadway musical to make it to the big screen. Dreamgirls is a fictionalized retelling of the story of Motown Records and The Supremes, with Beyoncé playing a version of Diana Ross. Eddie Murphy plays Jimmy Early, a flamboyant, charismatic singer based on soul singers such as James Brown. Dreamgirls requires a different kind of performance from Murphy, and he rises to the challenge.

Dreamgirls
does Murphy a disservice by asking to sing on the same soundtrack as Beyoncé, Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Hudson, but he can hold a tune surprisingly well.


Eddie Murphy was nominated for the only Oscar of his career for Dreamgirls. Although the movie may be more prestigious than his usual fare, he doesn’t compromise his style to conform to his surroundings. He’s still charming and unconventional, just like he is in most of his comedies. Dreamgirls does Murphy a disservice by asking to sing on the same soundtrack as Beyoncé, Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Hudson, but he can hold a tune surprisingly well.

7 Shrek (2001)

Donkey


Shrek

Director
Vicky Jenson , Andrew Adamson

Release Date
May 18, 2001

Eddie Murphy’s instantly recognizable voice works perfectly for Shrek, as he strikes up an enjoyable dynamic with Mike Myers. Murphy plays Donkey, Shrek’s aptly-named sidekick who annoys him into tagging along on his quest to save Princess Fiona from her imprisonment. Shrek only accepts this mission because he wants his swamp vacated so that everyone, including and especially Donkey, will leave him alone, but he grows to love his irritating new friend.

Shrek
is a brilliant children’s movie that has only gotten more popular over the years as the franchise has expanded.


Shrek is a brilliant children’s movie that has only gotten more popular over the years as the franchise has expanded. As well as the upcoming fifth movie in the series, a Shrek spinoff focusing on Donkey is in the works. This is testament to Murphy’s hilarious performances as Donkey over the years. It all started with the first movie, which remains one of the best, thanks to Lord Farquaad as the unforgettable villain and Donkey’s strange courtship with the Dragon, among other things.

6 Mulan (1998)

Mushu


Mulan

Director
Barry Cook , Tony Bancroft

Release Date
June 19, 1998

Donkey is definitely Eddie Murphy’s most famous animated character, but he’s also excellent in Mulan as the dragon sidekick Mushu. Murphy’s theatrical voice pairs perfectly with Mushu’s frail physicality to create a character who believes he is far more important and powerful than he really is. Mushu is the ideal Disney sidekick in many ways. He’s a constant source of comedy, but he also has enough heart to support Mulan when she needs him most.

Mushu is the ideal Disney sidekick in many ways. He’s a constant source of comedy, but he also has enough heart to support Mulan when she needs him most.


Mushu gets more than his fair share of Mulan‘s best quotes, largely due to Murphy’s incredible delivery. He plays his part as if Mushu is totally unaware of the stakes of his adventure with Mulan, and he still gets scared or annoyed at the smallest things. Among these small things is Cri-Kee, his cricket companion who he develops an amusing comedic partnership with, despite the fact that he doesn’t talk.

5 Dolemite Is My Name (2019)

Rudy Ray Moore


Dolemite Is My Name

Director
Chelsea Gilson

Release Date
October 25, 2019

Cast
T.I. , Keegan-Michael Key , Tituss Burgess , Kodi Smit-McPhee , Eddie Murphy , London Worthy , Wesley Snipes , Craig Robinson , Mike Epps , Chris Rock , Chelsea Gilson

Dolemite is My Name is a loving tribute to blaxploitation cinema. Eddie Murphy plays Rudy Ray Moore, the cult comedian who scraped together the funding to be able to make his own movie in 1975 based on his popular character, Dolemite. Although Dolemite is My Name is a rare comedy based on a true story, Murphy still makes the character his own and has a lot of fun experimenting with it.

Although
Dolemite is My Name
is a rare comedy based on a true story, Murphy still makes the character his own and has a lot of fun experimenting with it.


Wesley Snipes is superb as the big-name actor who somehow gets roped into the amateur production, and his arguments with Rudy Ray Moore make up most of the movie’s dramatic thrust. This conflict gives Murphy the opportunity for some hilarious grandstanding. As both Moore and Dolemite, he is outrageously brash and self-confident. With other actors, this could come across as obnoxious, but Murphy is easy to root for in this form.

4 Shrek 2 (2004)

Donkey


Shrek 2

Director
Kelly Asbury , Andrew Adamson , Conrad Vernon

Release Date
May 19, 2004

The first sequel in the franchise is still the best Shrek movie of all. While the sequel misses the presence of Lord Farquaad, it replaces him as the villain with the one-two punch of Prince Charming and the Fairy Godmother. The other key addition to the cast is Antonio Banderas’ Puss in Boots, who shakes up the dynamic between Shrek and Donkey when he joins them on their adventure.

While the sequel misses the presence of Lord Farquaad, it replaces him as the villain with the one-two punch of Prince Charming and the Fairy Godmother.


Shrek 2 focuses on the relationship troubles between Shrek and Fiona as she introduces him to her human parents in the land of Far Far Away. This means that Eddie Murphy’s Donkey has a slightly less important role, but Murphy still makes the most out of what he gets. The scene in which Donkey turns into a white stallion is a particular highlight, but Shrek 2 is packed full of great jokes.

3 Trading Places (1983)

Billy Ray Valentine


Trading Places is a delightful social satire that explores the disconnect between the snobbish upper classes and the realities of life in America for most ordinary people. Eddie Murphy plays a struggling street hustler who gets to swap lives with a wealthy Wall Street trader (Dan Aykroyd) as part of a twisted wager between two bored millionaires. Trading Places also stars Jamie Lee Curtis as a sex worker who helps the duo fight back.

Trading Places
is a delightful social satire that explores the disconnect between the snobbish upper classes and the realities of life in America for most ordinary people.


Trading Places resurrects the genre conventions of old screwball comedies, with Jamie Lee Curtis’ character showing the ineffectual and ignorant broker how the real world functions outside his wealthy corporate bubble. Murphy completes the dynamic with his quick wit and affable charm. There’s a clear divide between the personable heroes and the faceless, bland stuffed shirts, and this makes the riches-to-rags-to-riches-again story a crowd-pleasing ride.

2 Coming To America (1988)

Prince Akeem Joffer, Randy Watson, Saul & Clarence


Eddie Murphy plays four characters in Coming to America, which makes for one of his most memorable performances. The most important of his characters is Prince Akeem Joffer, the Crown Prince of a fictional African nation who travels to New York City to find a woman who will love him for something more than his money and status. Arsenio Hall plays his best friend and closest aide, as well as a few other characters around the city.

Murphy has more than one way of making the audience laugh, whether he’s stuck in a yelling match between two different versions of himself in a barbershop or tripping himself up in his pursuit of his new queen.


Coming to America gives Murphy the chance to play around, and he’s a joy to watch, but there’s a lot of heart too in this unusual romcom. Murphy has more than one way of making the audience laugh, whether he’s stuck in a yelling match between two different versions of himself in a barbershop or tripping himself up in his pursuit of his new queen. The sequel couldn’t quite live up to this jolt of originality.

1 Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

Axel Foley


Beverly Hills Cop

Director
Martin Brest

Release Date
November 30, 1984

Cast
Eddie Murphy , Judge Reinhold , John Ashton , Lisa Eilbacher , Ronny Cox , Steven Berkoff

The first movie in the Beverly Hills Cop franchise is still the best, and it propelled Eddie Murphy to a new level of success. The box office juggernaut mixes action with comedy to brilliant effect, providing as many thrills and laughs as the best hits of the 1980s. Murphy’s cool insouciance balances out the movie’s darker elements. He is given the room to improvise in Beverly Hills Cop, and the movie is much better for it.

The first movie in the
Beverly Hills Cop
franchise is still the best, and it propelled Eddie Murphy to a new level of success.


The part of Axel Foley was originally written for Sylvester Stallone, but it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Murphy playing the character. Murphy’s portrayal added an element of racial commentary to the cop comedy, which is in line with a lot of his best stand-up material. Although his comedic instincts are on full display, Beverly Hills Cop was also the movie that showed Murphy was a capable actor, and he knew how to share a scene and let other performers get some laughs.

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