Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB
USA, 1992. Paramount Pictures, Imagine Films Entertainment, Eddie Murphy Productions. Story by Eddie Murphy, Screenplay by Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield. Cinematography by Woody Omens. Produced by Brian Grazer, Warrington Hudlin. Music by Marcus Miller. Production Design by Jane Musky. Costume Design by Francine Jamison-Tanchuck. Film Editing by John Carter, Michael Jablow, Earl Watson.
Eddie Murphy plays an advertising executive who manages to do his job despite all the women he is stringing along outside of office hours. When his firm is merged with a cosmetics company run by Eartha Kitt, he romances her in the belief that she will promote him, but has his world turned upside down when it turns out she has made him subordinate to his new boss Robin Givens.
Forcing this chauvinist to work under a woman is one thing, but when he has a tryst with Givens and she rejects his desire to keep things going, he suffers a dose of his own medicine and is inspired to reevaluate his behavior.
David Alan Grier and Martin Lawrence provide sparkling support as his best friends, with Grier romancing Halle Berry as Murphy’s colleague in the art department (who then turns out to be a notable turn of the plot), while Grace Jones makes a humorous appearance as a fashion model who is a key figure in an ad campaign the company is working on.
Glamorous and witty, this film is a smart collection of reversals, both in its plot and its execution: the entire cast is African American except for the occasional white waitress, creating a Cary Grant comedy for an audience underserved by the genre in Hollywood’s history. Where it falters is in trying to include too many different flavors of the genre that result in the film feeling overloaded and confused, starting with crass humour (Murphy’s character is obsessed with womens’ feet and his scene with Lela Rochon is more suited to a spoof), moving to the slapstick silliness of Jones’ character that plays like farce and then turning sweet and sincere in its conclusion that focuses on Berry.
It feels like everyone is trying to keep up with Murphy’s whims as he tries to prove himself all kinds of an actor, but the lesson he learns is less effective thanks to the fact that one thing he was never good at (and it always made him funnier) was sincerity. That said, even when it doesn’t work, the bright colours and good nature make it fun to watch.