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‘Beverly Hills Cop III’

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
May 25, 1994


John Landis
Eddie Murphy;
Theresa Randle;
Judge Reinhold;
Hector Elizondo;
Bronson Pinchot;
Timothy Carhart;
John Saxon;
Alan Young;
Stephen McHattie
language and violence

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In "Beverly Hills Cop III," Eddie Murphy -- the man with the CinemaScope grin -- once again mugs, jives and drives his way through the 90210 zone of boutiques, babes and bad guys. With screenwriter Steven E. ("48 Hrs.") de Souza at the word processor and John ("Trading Places") Landis in the director's chair, Murphy is clearly in familiar company as they all embark on his goofy vanity project.

But de Souza's script -- in which Axel Foley (Murphy) searches a California amusement park to find the man who killed his police chief (Gil Hill) -- is an uninspired, long-winded we-know-whodunit. Although Landis's comic routines provide occasional relief, they're tired reprises from previous "Cop" films. And as Foley reunites with his unbearably gushy friends, L.A. cop Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and mop-topped Serrrge (Bronson Pinchot), the humor becomes as fatigued as that other dismal Murphy sequel, "Another 48 Hrs."

When a chop-shop bust goes awry in Detroit, Foley's favorite police chief (Hill) is slain by thin-lipped crime lord Ellis DeWald (Tim Carhart), whose tanned, coiffed appearance suggests a sociopathic TV weatherman. Foley, who gets a good look at the killer, traces him to WonderWorld, where DeWald heads the park's suspiciously large security force.

Reestablishing links with Rosewood (now gainfully employed as a coordinating police bureaucrat) and Serge (who runs a boutique for upper-income survivalists), Foley goes on the trail -- and the Eddie Show begins.

Foley is not only agile (with the burly security guards), smart (with DeWald), funny (with Rosewood and Serge) and sexy (with smitten security employee Janice, played by Theresa Randle), he's a saint. When the bad guys cause the "Snake Ride" Ferris wheel to break down, Foley (well, a stunt man looking a lot like Murphy) hops from cabin to rickety cabin to save two kids hanging on for dear life. When DeWald shoots "Uncle Dave" Thornton (Alan Young), the popular owner of WonderWorld, Foley rushes the stricken celebrity to the emergency room, even though -- at that moment -- television screens are identifying Foley as a criminal on the loose. Foley's like that.

This movie includes irrelevant appearances by Hector Elizondo as a new Foley ally, and Stephen McHattie as an FBI agent trying to head off the Detroit cop, as well as inside-joke cameos from film directors George Lucas, John Singleton, Martha Coolidge, Joe Dante and Barbet Schroeder. Like WonderWorld itself, the scenes are arranged into a rambling collection of unconnected rides: Foley has yet another confrontation with DeWald. Foley sweet-talks Janice. Foley disguises himself as Oki-Doki, a life-size elephant character. Foley listens attentively as Serge shows off his new toy, the Annihilator 2000, a microwave oven, CD player, boombox and bazooka-shaped weapon all rolled into one (which, naturally, Foley will get to use). And so on.

With a kiddie park so integral to the story, it's a given that Foley's final tussle with DeWald takes place on a theme ride -- in this case, "The Land of the Dinosaurs." Even more pitiable than this transparent piggyback ride on "Jurassic Park" is the battle itself, a third-rate brawl that culminates in -- well, why spoil a bad thing?

"Beverly Hills Cop III" is rated R for language and violence.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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