Paramount via Everett Collection
Anyone alive in 1984 — and many that weren't — can instantly recognize the synthesizer strains of Beverly Hills Cop's theme song "Axel F." Eddie Murphy's blockbuster comedy topped Ghostbusters and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to be the year's top grossing movie. With talk that another sequel to the film is in the works, it's time to look back at what made the original such a smash. You might be able to hum along with the theme, but here are some fun facts that you might not know.
1. Sylvester Stallone was set to play Axel Foley right up until two weeks before filming was to begin, causing the production team to rewrite on the fly in order for Murphy to step into the role.
2. When director Martin Brest was offered the job by producer Jerry Bruckheimer he was lukewarm on the project, so he flipped a coin to decide whether or not to do it. When the film became a huge success, Brest had the quarter that he used framed.
3. Judge Reinhold and John Ashton did an improv bit during their joint audition that ended up in the movie. It's the scene in the film where Reinhold's Rosemont tells Ashton's Taggart that the average American has "five pounds of undigested red meat in his bowels."
4. The script bounced around Hollywood for a long time and was originally a more traditional, tense actioner. Among the directors that turned down the more serious script were Martin Scorsese and David Cronenberg. Before Stallone, Mickey Rourke, Al Pacino, and James Caan were each attached to the Axel role at various times.
5. Even though Reinhold was only two years removed from playing a high school senior in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the actor is four years older than Murphy, who was only 23-years-old when Beverly Hills Cop was released.
6. The T-shirt that Murphy wears in the film is from a real Detroit area high school (Mumford), which was inundated with requests for the shirt. The section of the movie filmed in Detroit also featured Gil Hill, who actually did work for the city police department, as Murphy's boss. Hill went on to be a city councilman in the Motor City.
7. The Beverly Hills police in the movie use something called a "satellite tracking system," which the film team made up as a way to get around a sticky plot issue. The government's first GPS didn’t become fully operational until 1995… 11 years after Beverly Hills Cop.
8. Harold Faltermeyer, who scored a Top 10 hit with the instrumental "Axel F," also wrote Glenn Frey's Top 10 hit from the soundtrack, "The Heat Is On." The movie produced two other hits in The Pointer Sisters' "Neutron Dance" and Patti LaBelle's "New Attitude."
9. Originally, the art museum where Axel goes to find his friend Jenny once he gets to Los Angeles was supposed to have two men working in it. When Bronson Pinchot — who would later star in the television show Perfect Strangers — auditioned with the weird Eastern European accent that his character Serge affects, Brest made the role bigger to allow more interaction between Pinchot and Murphy. The character was such a hit that Pinchot's sitcom character used a variation of the same accent.
10. Stallone retained his affinity for the original script. His film Cobra was largely based on the ideas that he had for Beverly Hills Cop. That film, along with Beverly Hills Cop 2, co-starred Stallone's one-time wife Brigitte Nielsen.
11. The film was the first comedy to open on over 2,000 screens upon its release. Its success helped set the stage for the "wide openings" that became the norm in later years.
12. The movie was the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all-time until The Hangover finally knocked it from its perch. It made over $230 million at the box office in the United States. Adjusted for inflation, however, that would translate to over $650 million now.
In addition to his current job as the plus-size thorn Southwest Airlines’ side Kevin Smith also happens to be a filmmaker albeit one of steadily diminishing relevance. After earning widespread acclaim with his 1994 debut the d.i.y. comedy hit Clerks Smith followed up with two solid efforts Mallrats and Chasing Amy before beginning a slow sustained descent into the crowded ranks of Hollywood hackdom. And yet somehow he still managed to corral the likes of Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan to star in his latest film Cop Out an inane infantile buddy comedy that might very well represent his creative low-point.
Sample any of Smith’s countless anti-Southwest screeds and you’ll doubtlessly discover material more interesting than anything found in Cop Out. It’s a pity that Smith directing for the first time with someone else’s script couldn’t have harnessed all that creative fervor and vitriolic wit to punch up Robb and Mark Cullen’s lifeless screenplay which pits Willis and Morgan as a mismatched detective duo on the trail of a stolen baseball card. Or he might have focused that energy on polishing the film's sloppy aesthetic which looks as if it was pieced together with scissors and scotch tape then soaked in bongwater.
Funnyman Morgan seems tailor-made for Smith’s R-rated environment with its juvenile array of dick jokes and scat gags but without the wit — and restraint — of 30 Rock’s writing staff his dimwitted schtick becomes paper-cut irritating. Except apparently to Smith who can’t bring himself to yell “cut” until each aimless riff has thoroughly exhausted itself. Overplaying every mannerism every gesture every reaction in order to squeeze a few laughs from Cop Out’s barren material he can barely elicit a forced smile from lethargic straight man Willis who seems to be just marking time until production starts on the next Die Hard flick. The awkwardness of their forced rapport is intermittently relieved by a third party Seann William Scott whose needling childish petty thief is Cop Out’s best comedic asset. Fittingly he abruptly disappears in the second act.
Most perplexing about Cop Out (aside from the baffling fact of its existence) is that it isn’t fashioned as a parody but rather a loose homage. Smith’s copious nods to iconic '80s buddy cop flicks right down to the synth-pop score from Beverly Hills Cop composer Harold Faltermeyer are all made with a straight face. He isn’t trying to make fun of 48 Hours and Lethal Weapon; he’s trying to make 48 Hours and Lethal Weapon. With dick jokes.