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.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
We've all seen it... two movies leads lean in for a kiss. It's a moment we'd been waiting for since the opening scene. And now that it's here, it's, well, horrible. Sometimes it's intentional, other times it's due to chemistry and occassionally there isn't a clear reason. No matter what the cause, the audience ends up cringing.
We're taking a look at the most memorable kisses in film from the '80s on, including the Best Kisses and the Most Perplexing Kisses. Here, however, are the kisses that made us long for a good old handshake.
Ashton Kutcher and Jennifer Garner, Valentine's Day
Director Garry Marshall's schlocky romance had more than its share of awkward couplings, but Kutcher and Garner's characters — best friends that are just coming out of relationships that ended badly — were supposed to be the saving grace as they finally figure out that they should be together. The characters even admit the awkwardness of moving from friendship to something more. The problem is that the chemistry doesn't get any better even when they're supposed to have figured it out. Maybe being friends wasn't so bad after all.
Liv Tyler and Viggo Mortensen, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Maybe it's just that movie audiences aren't ready for Elven love. Tyler's Arwen and Mortensen's Aragorn played out a staid romance across three movies and the smooching didn't connect at any point. It didn't help that director Peter Jackson might have left in a little too much lip smacking on the soundtrack. When the two come together at the end, Mortensen looks more like he's going to headbutt Tyler rather than kiss her. And don't get us started on the creepy expression on Hugo Weaving's face as he watches.
Will Ferrell and Amy Adams, Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby
Yes, it's true that the kissing in a comedy isn't always supposed to make you think of romance — and it's also true that Ferrell's forced lip-lock with Sacha Baron Cohen was more laughable than anything else — but what earns Ferrell and Adams' passionate undertaking a spot on the list is Ricky Bobby's running commentary as it's happening. We're not sure which is worse: Ferrell comparing Adams to Tawny Kitaen in a White Snake video or her doing some of Kitaen's crawling-on-a-car-hood moves. With a bar full of people watching, it quickly becomes the PDA from hell.
Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, The Empire Strikes Back
There's an old saying that earning a tie in a competition is like "kissing your sister." Thankfully, most people don't have enough experience in that area to challenge the axiom. But Hamill's Luke Skywalker knows way too much about sister kissing. Before we find out in Return of the Jedi that Luke and Leia are siblings, the princess lays a major smooch on Luke to make Harrison Ford's Han Solo jealous. The characters can be excused for not knowing that they're related — they were seperated at birth — but what's Star Wars mastermind George Lucas' excuse?
Pee-wee Herman and Valeria Golino, Big Top Pee-wee
For starters, watching Paul Reubens' man-child Pee-wee kiss anyone isn't exactly something that audiences normally clamor for. In Big Top, Pee-wee subjects Italian beauty Golino to one of the longest kisses in film history at somewhere around two minutes. The same year that Pee-wee's movie was released, Golino also played Tom Cruise's girlfriend in Rain Man, where she kissed Dustin Hoffman's Raymond. Now there's an epic year of uncomfortable screen kisses.
Michael J. Fox and Lea Thompson, Back to the Future
There's nothing wrong with kissing your mother. In fact, we strongly encourage it... she gave you life and she deserves a nice chaste smooch to show your appreciation. That does not extend, however, to going back in time and taking your future mom "parking." While it's good that both characters recognized that there was something amiss with the kiss, it still doesn't stop it from giving us the willies every time that we watch Fox's Marty McFly get accosted by Thompson's overly amorous Lorraine.
Steve Martin and Claire Danes, Shopgirl
Martin's novel, on which the movie is based, was a sweet and whimsical look at a young woman trying to transition into being a fully functional adult in Los Angeles. The movie, though, is frequently off in any number of ways, and nowhere more so than when Martin and Danes play out the May-December romantic scenes. The duo are both fine actors, but they don't look any more comfortable doing the kissing than we are watching it.
Jim Carrey and Lauren Holly, Dumb and Dumber
Poor Lloyd. Carrey's dimwitted schmuck couldn't even fantasize right. Taking the expression about sticking your tongue down someone's throat way too literally, Carrey appears to actually cut off Holly's air supply during the spirited game of tonsil hockey. While the scene might have been all in Lloyd's head, unfortunately for Holly they really had to shoot it. And, to think, Carrey and Holly engaged in an off-screen romance... imagine having to do that scene with someone you didn't like.
Emma Waston and Rupert Grint, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 2
Watson and Grint grew up together over the course of filming J.K. Rowlings' Harry Potter books. Since the books came out well before the movies were shot, the young actors playing Potter's pals Ron and Hermione had plenty of time to consider what was eventually coming. Fair warning didn't help any because Watson and Grint's discomfort at having to engage in a snogging session on camera comes across quite clearly. All that's missing is the two of them pulling away from each other and actually saying, "Ewww."
Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, The Tourist
Depp and Jolie have both done their fair share of onscreen smooching and have shown plenty of chemistry with other costars. The two pretty people are still attractive even in this bad movie, but they couldn't possibly have less onscreen chemistry. In fact, there are times during what is supposed to be sexy encounters in The Tourist where the duo seem to be acting in different films altogether, and seem to have forgotten entirely that they are supposed to be attracted to one another. When Depp comes up behind the lingerie-clad Jolie, grabs her hair and lays a wet one on her, you half expect her to beat the crap out of him.
CBS Broadcasting, Inc.
When CBS renewed The Big Bang Theory for three seasons recently, it meant that the top rated sitcom is guaranteed to hit a 10th season (the show is closing out its seventh season now). While the certainty might be great for the network and the show's producers, it does beg the question of how the show will manage to stay fresh for that long. Even all-time classic sitcoms like Friends and Cheers struggled to sustain storylines when the season numbers hit double digits.
So, what will Big Bang look like in another three years? Can they find ways to keep things interesting or are they doomed to plod along through multiple seasons of rehashing what we've already seen? Obviously we can't know the outcome, but over the long history of sitcoms there are some lessons that are there to be learned. What do Sheldon and crew need to avoid in order to keep from "jumping the shark"? Let's take a look.
Limit the Break-ups
In some ways, the show has boxed itself into a corner in this regard. While Jim Parsons' Sheldon might be the most popular character, there's little debating the fact that the center of the show is the Leonard-Penny relationship. Just like with Ross and Rachel on Friends, it is the over-arching storyline even when it is seemingly dormant. Over the first six seasons, the show's writers had Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco's characters hook-up and break-up repeatedly. They're currently together and if they were to break up again, it will be really hard to put them back together in any way that doesn't aggravate the audience… at least the portion that was alienated by yet another off again period for the couple. The show's other pairs (Sheldon and Amy, Howard and Bernadette) have an entirely different issue — the female half's sole reason for being there is as part of the couple. For better or worse, the show has to come up with ways to tell stories with the relationships (mostly) intact.
Friends got away with having its characters have children by subsequently finding ways for the babies to disappear after they were born. That show, however, had the advantage of establishing extended families for the characters that lived nearby to help explain who was watching the infants. Big Bang, on the other hand, has done the exact opposite; most of the characters aren't native to the show's Pasadena setting. With the exception of Howard and Bernadette, no other characters on the show can have children that could be explained away (and it's hard to say how plausible the idea of Howard's never-seen mother taking care of an infant is). So, Penny and Leonard can't have a baby that magically ages three years between seasons and becomes a precocious genius. Same thing goes for any young relatives of Sheldon's suddenly arriving from Texas to live with him or Amy's vivacious "forgotten" younger sister showing up.
Tread Carefully With Cast Changes
With the possible exception of Cheers, no other long-running sitcom has done as good of a job of incorporating new characters into the show's mix. Not every fan may like Mayim Bialik's Amy Farrah Fowler, but the character along with Melissa Rauch's Bernadette has opened up a slew of possibilities for the show's writers. At this point, however, there is far less wiggle room. Introducing another new character, after so much time has been invested in the core group, would be a hard sell. Conversely, having a key character depart would ruin the chemistry that the show has worked so hard to establish. It's quite possible that someone will leave over the next three seasons and it will be a challenge to deal with that in a way that doesn't cause a chunk of the audience to leave along with the character. Big Bang's creator Chuck Lorre may have milked additional seasons out of his hit Two and a Half Men after Charlie Sheen was replaced by Ashton Kutcher, but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone that liked the show better after the change. Of course, having a character depart is still better than going the Bewitched/Rosanne route and bringing in another actor to play the same role.
Avoid Very Special Episodes
How I Met Your Mother is the rare sitcom that can get away with dealing with issues like losing a parent without destroying the show's rhythm. Big Bang Theory isn't HIMYM (or Family Ties or All in the Family for that matter). The show isn't designed to handle heavy topics in any real way. There can't be an episode where depressed comic book store owner Stuart actually decides to end things or Kunal Nayyar's Raj gets hit by a truck and ends up in a coma or Penny awaits test results after her doctor "found something." Once that happens, the show will have gone down a path that it probably can't come back from.
It will be a challenge for the Big Bang team to craft episodes that feel new without resorting to any of the desperation plays that have doomed so many other sitcoms. If the show wants to join the short ranks of shows that have put together a solid decade of viable episodes, however, it will have to rise to that challenge.
When Miley Met Michael? The Head Shop Around the Corner? Pairing Miley Cyrus and Michael Cera in a rom-com could be just what the stagnant form needs. Romantic comedies has been left for dead after a series of lame stories and unfortunate casting choices have cast a pall over the genre. The rom-com could very well rise from the ashes like a phoenix, however, if studios would pay more attention to chemistry.
In the years since Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan made moviegoers swoon, we've learned a few things about romantic comedies. One is that a "meet cute" does not make a story. The other is that Ashton Kutcher doesn't have on-screen chemistry with anyone. Really, with very few exceptions in recent years, the pairings in big screen rom-coms have had all of the sizzle of a wet mop. Here then are four pairings that, combined with the right script, could make hearts flutter once again.
Miley Cyrus and Michael Cera
Cera has perfected the socially awkward love-struck type. Whether in Arrested Development or Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, we know what we can expect. Cyrus, for all of her headline-grabbing scandals, actually is very talented. The audience already has a type associated with each, so all the story has to do is play off of that. The formula to pit Cyrus' wild child persona against Cera's stammering has been used effectively in movies like What's Up, Doc? and Something Wild… but that was many years ago. Give the set-up a few modern flourishes and let the Cyrus-Cera combo do the rest.
Kerry Washington and Taye Diggs
This pairing starts with the actors' looks. It's possible tha Kerry Washington and Taye Diggs could vie for best looking on-screen couple ever. But looks would just be the start. Washington has proven her range as an actress and her turn hosting Saturday Night Live showed us that she's willing to have some fun. Diggs is stuck in a bit of a rut, but we still remember his bemused turn on Ally McBeal. Make Diggs a rich guy and Washington an activist with a cause that creates a conflict and let the sparks fly.
Emma Stone and Paul Dano
Yes, we know that there are some that like seeing Emma Stone with frequent co-star Ryan Gosling, but that's gone as far as it can go. How many times do we need to see Stone's eyes widen at the realization of how good-looking Gosling is? Paul Dano has shown what he can do in prestige movies like 12 Years a Slave, but he also has a romantic side as evidenced by Ruby Sparks. Great actors feed off of each other, and Stone and Dano have already made believers out of many a film critic. Give them a smart, sophisticated script and they would knock it out of the park.
Kat Dennings and Justin Timberlake
Kat Dennings, Cera's costar in Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, can cut anyone down to size with a properly timed put-down and bright red lipstick-framed smirk. Justin Timberlake tried his hand at romantic comedy with Mila Kunis in Friends With Benefits and the result was two pretty people being boring together. We know that JT can be funny thanks to his SNL efforts and we know that he can be suave thanks to his New Jack Rat Pack stage persona. Give Timberlake a chance to show off his coolness and then let Dennings burst his bubble. Done right, it could have the electricity of Richard Gere and Julia Roberts.