Eddie Murphy is easily one of the most successful comedians of his generation. On top of having a great stand-up career, Eddie is also well-known for his ability to play multiple characters in the same TV show/film. Over the years, Eddie Murphy has been responsible for bringing some unforgettable characters to life. Unfortunately, however, not all of those characters have held up well over time. As society’s standards and expectations change, so do people’s sense of humor. While all of Eddie Murphy’s characters will go down in history as important parts of his career, some of them are much better off in the past. Here are 10 Eddie Murphy characters that didn’t age well.
10. Sherman Klump
Sherman Klump is easily one of Eddie Murphy’s most memorable characters. Sherman was the star of the 1996 movie The Nutty Professor as well as the 2000 sequel Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. He was a highly intelligent college professor who really loved his job. Although Sherman had a great personality and a kind heart, he was often looked down upon due to his size. He comes up with an idea for a formula to help him lose weight, and it works much better than he expected and he loses hundreds of pounds within seconds. He then turned into a much more confident version of himself named Buddy Love (also played by Eddie Murphy). Sherman was a great character in many ways, but being fat was a big part of the reason why he was so funny. These days, that simply wouldn’t go over so well. On top of that, the fact that Sherman’s confidence was tied to him being skinny is kind of lame because it suggests that heavier people need to lose weight in order to feel good about themselves.
In 1995, Eddie Murphy took the starring role as an ancient vampire named Maximilian in the comedy-horror movie Vampire in Brooklyn. Despite being born on the other side of the world, Maximilian ended up in New York City to search for a woman who was half human and half vampire. According to New York Daily News, Eddie’s brother, Charlie, said “Wes brought a different focus to the film, which was originally going to be straight horror with no laughs. Maximilian wasn’t going to have any redeeming qualities. But Wes taught us that we must get the audience to care about our characters. And even if they didn’t know any vampires personally, they would at least have to identify with the type of person he was.” Incorporating humor into the movie was probably one of the best decisions the production team could have made. Unfortunately, though, not even that was enough to save the film from flopping. As a character, Maximilian aged poorly in a lot of ways. For starters, Eddie Murphy’s Caribbean accent was terrible. To be fair, though, Vampire in Brooklyn didn’t age very well as a whole.
8. Chandler Jarrell
There are some movies and shows that are able to withstand the test of time, and others that very much represent the era when they were released. The 1986 movie The Golden Child is definitely part of the latter group. In the film, Eddie Murphy played a character named Chandler Jarrell, a social worker who finds himself on an adventure when one of the children in his caseload goes missing. While the movie was a big box office success, it received mostly poor reviews and even Eddie Murphy referred to The Golden Child as “a piece of sh*t“. The Golden Child has aged so poorly that, by default, Murphy’s character has too.
7. Randy Watson
Coming to America is easily one of Eddie Murphy’s most popular films. In the movie, he played several characters including a fictional musician named Randy Watson. When Coming to America came out in 1988, Randy Watson looked like he was about a decade late. However, that didn’t away from the fact that he was a hilarious character. Even though he didn’t have a major role in the film, he still left a lasting impact on many viewers. But, when Randy appeared in the sequel, Coming 2 America, it appeared that the character had lost some of its original magic.
6. Pluto Nash
Over the course of his career, Eddie Murphy has been involved in more than a dozen very successful movies. Sadly, The Adventures of Pluto Nash wasn’t one of them. Released in the summer of 2002, Pluto Nash starred Eddie Murphy in the title role. The movie was a huge flop and didn’t even come close to breaking even in terms of box office sales. Not only did critics feel like the acting was lazy and the jokes were stale, but Pluto Nash proved to be somewhat of a dull character. In many ways, he wasn’t fleshed out enough which resulted in the character struggling to gain attention. Despite the fact that the movie took place in the future, Pluto Nash is one person who wouldn’t be able to cut it in 2021.
5. Velvet Jones
During his time as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, Eddie Murphy got the chance to play several characters. Velvet Jones might just be one of the most memorable. According to SNL Fandom, “Velvet Jones started out as selling books and videos for get-rich-quick schemes and educational brochures and how-to videos that would prove pointless, most of which had a trashy element to them, like “How to be a High Paying Ho”. He spoke in ebonics and slang, and briefly launched a series of romance novels.” Velvet Jones certainly got a lot of laughs during his time on SNL, but the fact that he perpetuated so many negative stereotypes about Black people and is very misogynistic wouldn’t be a good look in today’s society. In this day and age, being mysogynistic is a little less funny than it used to be. Ironically, however, Eddie Murphy reprised his role as Velvet for an appearance on SNL in 2019 and fans seemed to enjoy the skit.
The 2007 movie Norbit was so ridiculous that people couldn’t help but laugh. Eddie Murphy played several roles in the movie including that of Norbit’s love interest, Rasputia Latimore. Rasputia was loud, aggressive, and mean, but she always had a little soft spot in her heart for Norbit. Rasputia’s character plays into lots of negative stereotypes about Black women – especially those who are overweight. In fact, several outlets touched on this issue after Norbit’s release. In an article from the Seattle Times, women reported that they felt that Rasputia portrayed Black women in a negative light. A California-based activist named Najee Ali even protested the movie. According to the article, Ali said, “Eddie Murphy’s character, we feel, is offensive to African-American women and it perpetuates those negative stereotypes that large black women are violent, unattractive, promiscuous and buffoons”. Since these topics have become even more prominent in recent years, you can only guess how a character like Rasputia would be received in 2021.
3. Thurgood Stubbs
Unless you’re someone who has followed Eddie Murphy’s career pretty closely, you may have missed the relatively short-lived animated series, The PJs. In the show, Eddie was the voice of a building superintendent named Thurgood Stubbs. Thurgood was a very grumpy man who never wanted to handle any of the maintenance requests in the building. On top of that, he was constantly dealing with the stress that came from living in the projects. Thurgood was a hilarious character in his own right, but even during the show’s run he rubbed some people the wrong way. Legendary filmmaker, Spike Lee, felt that the entire show was bad for the Black community and painted Black people in a negative light. Many of today’s viewers would probably agree and may dislike a character like Thurgood in favor of someone who shows a different side of the Black community.
In many ways, Eddie Murphy’s portrayal of Norbit faced a lot of the same criticism as his portrayal of Rasputia. Norbit’s size was at the center of the story. Because of his size, Norbit was shy and lacking in confidence. In many ways, he mirrored a lot of the same qualities of Sherman Klump which many felt represented Eddie Murphy’s true feelings about fat people. In 2007, Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe wrote, “The only recommendable thing about Norbit is that he’s not as bad as every other person in this movie. It’s like these weird defects in Eddie’s psychology are OK because he can make entertainment out of them”.
Looking back, a lot of Eddie Murphy’s characters relied on negative stereotypes in order to be funny. Based on the character of the same name from The Little Rascals, Buckwheat premiered on Saturday Night Live in 1981. The character was known for speaking in somewhat broken English. He was also popular for singing his own renditions of well-known songs. There is no doubt that a character like Buckwheat would still be able to get some laughs today, but overall a lot of people would likely find the character to be ignorant.
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