Why Eddie Murphy should be raw during the Oscars

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Image Credit: Everett Collection

Ever since he broke out as a young comedian on Saturday Night Live in the early 1980s, we’ve been privvy to the two sides of Eddie Murphy: There’s the family-friendly Eddie, who gifted physical comedy to audiences of all ages in films like The Nutty Professor, Dr. Doolittle, and Shrek; and then there’s raw Eddie, who showed us his expletive-loving self in the likes of 48 Hours, Beverly Hills Cop, and, well, Raw.

But as many are debating on our message boards, which Eddie will he break out on Oscar night? As EW previously reported, Murphy has been confirmed as the host of the 84th Annual Academy Awards. And, like we felt last year when James Franco and Anne Hathaway were announced as emcees, we’re not sure what to expect from his hosting duties. (Of course, the answer is probably a bit more clear-cut than a ceremony headed by the stoner dude from Pineapple Express and The Princess Diaries girl.) We’re talking about a ceremony with a history of both playing it safe (Johnny Carson, Billy Crystal, Ellen DeGeneres) and spicing things up (Chris Rock, David Letterman, Jon Stewart). Which side will Murphy favor? Or, the better question is: Which side should Murphy favor?

Whatever your feelings for the actor back in his glory days, it’s undeniable that, in recent years, Murphy has seemed out of touch with audiences’ interests. Though he has admittedly been busy raking in millions as an animated donkey in the Shrek franchise, his live-action work (Meet Dave, Imagine That, Norbit) has felt like straight-to-video fare that was rejected in the 1990s. And the only way to increase that unwanted reputation is to play it safe during the Oscars ceremony. Sure, Carson and Crystal hit gold catering to a family-friendly audience in their days — but if there are two things that Murphy ain’t, it’s Carson or Crystal. An Eddie Murphy who refuses to take chances would seem as wrong as an Ellen DeGeneres on primetime: Her cuddly sense of humor was lost on Oscars’ 2007 audience like Finding Nemo‘s Dory. Murphy, a comedy legend who has excelled with bluer stand-up bits, would seem just as awkward not bringing some zest to the telecast.

But based purely on the fact that Tower Heist director Brett Ratner is producing the 2012 ceremony, one would think we could expect a visit from Raw Eddie. But based on Ratner’s words to EW about his Oscar host choice, Murphy might be aiming more for the heart. Said Ratner to EW: “I just did Tower Heist with him, and he was funny as hell and didn’t say one bad word. Yes, he’s a surprising talent, and he’s going to surprise people and be irreverent. But he also knows how to not only entertain the crowd, but how to move people.” I’m all for being moved, but I can’t help but hope he elevates his hosting gig slightly past a G-rated level. It’s true that the Academy Awards have been experimental over the past few years, but there’s a reason the 2011 Golden Globes were one of the most buzzed-about TV events of the year: Ricky Gervais. Viewers like to see hosts that take chances on the stage, for better or for worse. Just look at Rock: Sure, his famous Jude Law routine in 2005 might have incurred the scorn of Sean Penn, but it created a true moment… and, as my colleague Adam B. Vary said, who or what hasn’t incurred the scorn of Sean Penn? And that’s exactly what the Oscars have been missing in years past: A moment that viewers can latch onto. (And, no, James Franco in drag doesn’t count.) Not only could some extra guts from Murphy raise the telecast’s ratings this time around, but, like my colleague Dave Karger wrote, it could also help “return one of our best comedians to his former glory.” Or, at the very least, make up for Norbit right?

What do you think, PopWatchers? Do you want to see Family Eddie or Raw Eddie? Vote in our poll below!

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateWardEW

Read more:
Oscar show producers Brett Ratner and Don Mischer on new host, Eddie Murphy: ‘You cannot twist anybody’s arm to do it.’
Eddie Murphy, Oscar host: Can he bring the funny?
It’s official: Eddie Murphy to host 2012 Oscars

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Comments (53 total) Add your comment
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  • Stacey Galvin

    I wish Eddie Murphy would do movies for adults again like he used to and ceases doing children’s films. It would be sad and disappointing if he doesn’t.

    Everyone is ready to give up on him. He has alienated his fanbase for years and has seemingly gone out of his way to make lousy children’s movies, with only the occasional film for adults once in a while.

    • Jake

      He’s openly admitted he only does movies for money, he isn’t an artist. Probably he did it just for money in the 80s too, but at least his movies were funny then.

      • Squishmar

        That strategy of his cost him an Oscar. You just know that he would have won for “Dreamgirls” if he hadn’t have had that piece of crap movie come out at around the same time the Oscar voters were checking off their ballots.

  • ben

    I want Eddie to go all out on Oscar. It was wrong of them to snake the Oscar from him. I’ve seen every movie in the category he was nominated in that year. Everyone was better than Alan Arkin. Mark Wahlberg in the Departed, Jackie Earle Haley in Little Children, Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls, and Djimon in Blood Diamond were all better than Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine. Besides, his performance in 13 Conversations about 1 Thing was better.

  • ben

    @Stacey Galvin

    As do I. He was much funnier back then when he wasn’t boxed in. A lot of those children movies are really corny especially Daddy Day Care and Meet Dave. He should make his first great comedy since Bowfinger with Steve Martin.

    • Max

      “Bowfinger” was great. I’m not huge Murphy fan otherwise, although I don’t hate him either. I’ll be ok with him as an Oscar host as long as he leaves those stupid “Nutty Professor” fat suits at home.

  • Genie

    You may want to see Raw Eddie, I may want to see Raw Eddie but the uptight, unfunny, no sense of humour possessing, self important super sensitive Oscar attendees truly don’t want any part of that. The public will love Raw Eddie, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the Academy members

    • Shells

      I think Eddie doesn’t want to risk being snubbed for an an Oscar again, so he won’t go too raw. LOL! Plus, it’s for network TV. But he can’t pull off completely family friendly either, so, we might get the middleground, SNL Murphy.

      • Aprilcot26

        I don’t think Eddie was snubbed…as excellent as he was in ‘Dreamgirls’, Arkin was better.

    • dom

      Jackie Earle Haley was the one that got snubbed that night.

  • Nancy

    Obviously everyone wants the Eddie Murphy from 25-30 years ago. He was hilarious, but it was not very p.c. back then! I can’t imagine how much people would be freaking out the following Monday morning.

  • Bob R

    the oscars are still on?

    • rush

      you know how they say” there is no such thing as a stupic question” i guess you proved them wrong…..

    • rush

      you know how they say ” there is no such thing as a stupid question”??

    • Truth

      Gee, Bob R, uou are so cool. No really. I mean that. No kidding. So freakin’ cool. Getting chills here.

  • Brian

    Murphy hasn’t been funny or relevant for 20 years. This is simply a publicity stunt to promote what looks like a terribly unfunny movie. AAPAS has been whining about the fact that they can’t attract younger viewers. Well, they sure aren’t going to win any with Murphy as the host. Yawn….

    • to Brian

      exactly

      • Alden

        I’m not much of an Eddie Murphy fan, but the guy was nominated for an Oscar not too long ago. That must count for something.

  • Mark

    I loved Eddie Murphy back in the 80′s when I was a teenager. Now I wonder what I was thinking. Audience members and the media hoping for “Raw” Eddie want him only so they can have something to write / talk about the next morning. The Oscars are supposed to be a dignified awards show. How about we give out the awards and forget all the other crap, hmmm?

  • Jeff

    Maybe it is just me but I never cared much for his stand-up. Seemed like a lot of yelling and not a lot of funny lines to me. He can be very funny but if you go by his pure stage performance (not SNL – stand-up alone), I’m not too excited by the choice. I’ll watch out of curiosity but seems like a host pick that made more sense 20 years ago.

    • Ugly Nikki

      that is what they are going for, people tuning it out of curiosity. And yes, its just you because he was hilarious and borderline genius in Raw and funny as heck in his movies of the past.

      • Jeff

        Read my comment. I said I do not find his stand-up funny. SNL and his early movies were funny. RAW is not funny in my mind – but now that you said he is a genius I guess I was wrong…nope, still don’t find it funny.

    • Liz Lemon

      I completely disagree. Eddie Murphy is one of the funniest comedians EVER.
      The stuff he comes up with is what I’m anticipating. Plus, he’s one of those comics who are fearless.

  • Ms. Chanandler Bong

    It will never happen. While that’s what viewers want I’m sure the celebrities will get butt hurt if they’re the butt of the joke, much like the GG’s and the Academy doesn’t want to piss off the famous people. Plus wasn’t Brett Ratner responsible for screwing up the X-Men franchise? My expectations will remain low.

  • rush

    i personally hope he’s the “raw” eddie, as i think that would definatly shake things up during an otherwise stiff show. hopefully it wont be ricky gervais at the golden globes, but funn all the same but talking about eddie’s newer work, how come noone EVER mentions his stint in dreamgirls???? i mean i get that he didnt do well with norbit(which btw was oscar nominated for its costumes) and dave or any of those other movies(mentioned) but he was GREAT in dream girls. and i for one think he should get credit for that!!!!

    • @rush

      Definitely, fun, no, one. Write each of these 100 times. And then, read a book on capitals and punctuation.

  • Barbara

    Really would like him to bring Buckwheat back!!

  • well, actually, rush

    Ricky Gervais was great, he spoke his mind, he wasn’t politically correct, and he correctly called out the behavior of pampered stars who cannot take criticism. Eddie Murphy is not funny, what an extremely poor choice.

  • you want the Oscars to

    be entertaining? Hire CHARLIE Murphy, not Eddie.

    • Rick James

      CHARLIE MURPHY!

    • Rick James, b***h

      The Darkness.

  • Tohn

    As much as I would like to see Raw Eddie, it aint gonna happen at the Oscars. I would just be happy to see him go back and do an R rated comedy or action/comedy. Besides Dreamgirls, Life was the last Eddie Murphy movie that I loved.

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