The Comeback of Eddie Murphy Begins

Eddie Murphy will host the 84th Annual Academy Awards.  (Kudos to Deadline Hollywood for breaking the news first.)  This is a great choice and the first sign that Brett Ratner might actually do a fine job producing the Oscars.  Murphy will star in Ratner's upcoming movie Tower Heist, which I think will be quite good despite what the naysayers of doom are naysaying (although I'm not a fortune teller, so what do I know?)

Murphy shot to stardom as a young twenty-something on Saturday Night Live and almost instantly became a global top-tier movie star with 48 HRS, Trading Places, and Beverly Hills Cop.  Whether performing stand-up comedy or creating hilarious characters in sketches on TV or owning the silver screen with his unmatched acting chops, he was on top of the world during those early years.  He had his share of early duds, such as Best Defense and The Golden Child, but he was still viewed as one of the greatest A-list comedy stars of his generation -- and some even called him one of the best of all time. He managed to show an incredible range, becoming a chameleon in movies like Coming to America and later The Nutty Professor

His career took an unexpected turn, however, and he has been better known lately for family-friendly flicks that have been critical yawners (Doctor Dolittle, Daddy Day Care, The Haunted Mansion) than for the kind of edgy, laugh-out-loud, instant classic movies that launched his fame.  His best recent work has been doing voiceovers in cartoons (Mulan, The PJs, Shrek). Yet, when he ventured into more adult fare, the results were underwhelming -- I, Spy being an example that comes quickly to mind.  And let's not talk about The Adventures of Pluto Nash.

His supporting role in Dreamgirls should have won him an Oscar, but it didn't, and he kept making crappy films like Meet Dave and Imagine That.  If ever there was a time for Eddie Murphy to resurrect his career and recapture the potential he displayed back in the 1980s, now is the time.

He will bring energy and humor to the Academy Awards show, and unlike others who hosted before with similar expectations, Murphy is a bonafide movie star, even if his megasuperstar days are behind him. Click here for Deadline's detailed followup, calling the choice a win-win situation for both Murphy and the Academy. Who knows, he might be able to jump back into the stratosphere again?  After Tower Heist, he will be voicing Hong Kong Phooey, but after that some better roles might come his way.  He might make people forget about Billy Crystal as the go-to-savior-host of the Oscars.