It's tough being an Eddie Murphy fan these days. People quickly forget how funny someone is when all they do is make the same sequels every summer. Eddie Murphy of today is often a complete stranger, with only very small shades of his former manic self peeking through. Think about what's funnier - Eddie Murphy in his fantastic Delirious concert or Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps?
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While I still contend that the HBO special Delirious is Eddie at his finest, the theatrically-released Eddie Murphy: Raw easily runs a close second. Both concerts show Eddie as one of the most talented and original stand-up comedians ever.
The movie opens with a cute sequence with Eddie as a young boy, entertaining and eventually shocking his family with some decidedly nasty jokes. (Incidentally, this sequence was directed by Robert Townsend and features Samuel L. Jackson as Eddie's uncle!) What follows is 90 minutes of some of the harshest and strongest stand-up you'll ever see. Filmed in 1987 at the Felt Forum in New York City, Eddie Murphy Raw stands as one of the finest comedy concert films ever made.
Eddie covers his favorite topics - sex, money and women. While many claim that his over-the-top views mask some misogynistic or sexist views, I choose to see it as a performer playing a role. At this point in his career, Eddie just had his audience wrapped around his finger, and this guy knows how to work a room.
While lots of comedians rely on extreme profanity to just shock people, Eddie used his mouth as a comedic weapon. His skills as an impersonator are equally as impressive. Try to watch his takes on Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby and not crack a smile. And just as in Delirious, some of Eddie's best material revolves around his own family. "Dat don't look like McDonald's!"
One great thing about concert movies like these: You can watch them over and over, like listening to one of your favorite CDs. Heck, it's simple - If you already love Eddie Murphy as I do, this is a five-star concert movie. If you don't, you'd be pretty foolish to even rent it, right?
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