Three reactions to Eddie Murphy telling Extra‘s Tanika Ray that he’s considering retirement from film acting with comments like (a) “I have close to fifty movies and it’s like, why am I in the movies?,” (b) “I’ll go back to the stage and do standup” and (c) that he “doesn’t want to be a part of” Brett Ratner‘s Beverly Hills Cop 4 because “the movie [isn’t] ready to be done.”

Eddie Murphy; Frank Sinatra.

One, Murphy may be feeling deflated about the tracking on Meet Dave (7.11), which has been fairly abysmal for the last couple of weeks. The first-choice numbers have recently improved (they’re up to 2 or 3) but the signs are unmistakable that the bloom is off the rose and that people have finally understood that the odds of a Murphy comedy being gross or sloppy or not funny enough are pretty good so why bother in the first place? Murphy has since quashed the retirement talk, but that’s only because he’s moody fuck who feels what he feels when he’s feeling it. The bottom line is that he’s in a lousy place.
Two, he’s talking about a “Frank Sinatra retirement” which really means an extended “fuck all this” adventure that’s about shedding the old skin and finding new sources of vitality or what-have-you. A soul-seeking, soul-recharging exercise that every high-stress creative person goes through once or twice, usually in their 40s or 50s. In short, a bout of the middle-aged-crazies.
Three, it’s obviously a healthy thing or Murphy to be thinking about getting out of the rut and get back to his stand-up roots. I used to love the guy in the old days (late ’70s to ’83). I saw him perform live twice back then — once at a comedy club in Manhattan, once at the Universal amphitheatre. But the hip industry people haven’t been with him for 20 years. His loss of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Dreamgirls confirmed that, and then people really didn’t like his graceless ass when he bolted out of the Kodak theatre 90 seconds after Alan Arkin, the winner, took the stage.
All I know is, the guy used to be really funny, and that he needs to get back to that place again if he wants to matter again. Or feel anything again. Right now he’s a dead man.