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EDDIE MURPHY DELIRIOUS, 1983
Movie Review

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EDDIE MURPHY DELIRIOUS MOVIE POSTER
EDDIE MURPHY DELIRIOUS, 1983
Movie Reviews

Directed by Bruce Gowers
Starring: Eddie Murphy
Review by Thomas Marchese



SYNOPSIS:

Eddie Murphy's raunchy, raucous stand-up comedy routine is captured for posterity on this tape. Not for folks who dislike foul language.

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REVIEW:

Achieving a meteoric rise to stardom in the springtime of an artist’s career can, at times, have detrimental effects. In some cases, the artist will hit their peak during that rise, then their career valleys into mediocrity that is a far cry from what they achieved at their peak. Eddie Murphy is definitely an artist who peaked early, then hit a valley that he remains in to this day.

It’s somewhat ironic that the 25th anniversary DVD edition of Murphy’s legendary and influential HBO special, Delirious, was released around the same time as the recent and sudden death of Michael Jackson, as there are parallels between the two. Both were eighties icons who achieved superstardom in that glossy/go-go decade while in still quite young (in their early twenties), by bringing flare and innovation to their respective art forms: pop music and standup comedy.

Then, as the nineties dawned and both men reached their thirties, both the quality of their work and their star power dwindled. Jackson into an abyss of odd public behavior, controversy and forgettable music, and Murphy ceasing his standup career and starring in bland family films that range from mediocre to terrible. An odd gem arose here and there such as The Nutty Professor and Dreamgirls.

Watching Delirious it’s difficult not to think, “What happened to Eddie? He used to be so edgy and funny.” The concert special hearkens back to 1983 when Murphy, only twenty-two years old, was achieving cruising altitude with his career. He was a television superstar as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, a budding movie star with two hits behind him (48 HRS. and Trading Places) and especially, a rockstar standup comedian with his Richard Pryor influenced brand of politically incorrect, biting, edgy, unapologetic and influential humour (The expletive “fuck” is uttered 230 times, and the expletive “shit” is uttered 171 times!).

The set videotaped for Delirious was performed at Constitution Hall in Washington D.C. on August 17, 1983, and featured Murphy at his all-time standup best. Bit range from Mr. T as a homosexual, celebrity impressions of Stevie Wonder, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson, Eddie declaring his mother “Clint Eastwood with her shoe”, impersonating his father hypothesizing that his sister-in-law is a “bigfoot”, and the classic “ice cream” routine.

By today’s standards, while still uproariously funny, the humour is rather commonplace. However, its influence can be seen in current styles of humour and satire, and such standup comedians as Chris Rock and Cedric the Entertainer. Both comics speak of the influence of Eddie Murphy and Delirious on their careers in a documentary included as a bonus feature on the DVD.

Another bonus feature is an interview conducted with Murphy in 2007 where he states that he occasionally attends comedy clubs, which gives him slight inspiration to resume standup. He goes on to say that doing so would require a strong and firm commitment to the workload that standup requires, and that he is not ready at the moment to make such a commitment, but there is the possibility that he may in the future.

All we can do is hope that Eddie will realize that his movie career is going nowhere, and will return to the art form that he is best at and made him the comedy legend that he is.

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