BOOMERANG – 30th ANNIVERSARY EDITION (1992)
Starring Eddie Murphy, Halle Berry, Robin Givens, David Alan Grier, Martin Lawrence, Grace Jones, Geoffrey Holder, Eartha Kitt, Chris Rock, Tisha Campbell, Lela Rochon, John Witherspoon, John Canada Terrell, Leonard Jackson, Jonathan P. Hicks, Tom Mardirosian, Irv Dotten, Melvin Van Peebles, Rhonda Jensen, Alyce Webb, Louise Vyent, Frank Rivers, Angela Logan, Chuck Pfeifer, Raye Dowell, Reginald Hudlin and Warrington Hudlin.
Screenplay by Barry W. Blaustein & David Sheffield.
Directed by Reginald Hudlin.
Distributed by Paramount Pictures. 117 minutes. Rated R.
After starting his film career on a huge high – his first three films 48 Hrs., Trading Places and Beverly Hills Cop were not just big hits, they were critically beloved – Eddie Murphy’s career as a comic actor came crashing to Earth soon enough. In the 40 years after his explosion out of the gate, Murphy has made an extraordinarily long line of bad films. Every once in a while, he’ll sneak in a fairly good one – like Coming to America, Bowfinger, Dreamgirls, Dolemite is My Name and animated roles in Shrek and Mulan. (Sorry, I know The Nutty Professor is also considered by many to be a high point for him, but I couldn’t stand that movie.)
Boomerang is another one of the fairly good ones. It is very much a product of its times – the entire company where the film takes place would be in for a weeks-long sexual harassment seminar if HR ever found out all the crap that was going on there.
However, it’s mostly funny, entertaining and has a strong, diverse cast. (Among the co-stars were the then fairly unknown Halle Berry, Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence and Tisha Campbell.)
And it had a spectacular soundtrack, spawning several big hit singles – “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men, “I’d Die Without You” by PM Dawn, “Love Should’ve Brought You Home” by Toni Braxton, “Give U My Heart” by Babyface & Toni Braxton, and more.
The pleasant surprise, 30 years down the line as the film gets its first Blu-ray release, is that the film has aged pretty well. (As a movie, as noted before it’s way off sociologically in the #MeToo era, but its casual view of sex – from both genders – is also sort of entertaining in a nostalgic way.)
Murphy plays Marcus Graham, a high-powered advertising exec at a major beauty conglomerate. He is also a complete hound with the ladies. (Literally, the film soundtracks his doubletakes checking out women with a “woof.”) He’s known as a player, and also known for dumping women flat the second he gets them to bed. He’s the type of guy who will pretend he’s lost an imaginary dog to get in with a gorgeous dog lover. He’s also the type of guy who will dump that same woman flat after sex because he decides she has ugly toes.
You know that he is due some comeuppance, and that comes in the form of his new boss, Jacqueline Broyer (played by Robin Givens). Jacqueline is the same type of predatory lover as he is, and quickly is using him for occasional booty calls, but mostly ignoring him. Marcus is not used to being on the other side, and soon he is as needy and insecure as any of his exes, which, not surprisingly, is merely pushing her away even more.
And then there’s her gorgeous assistant (played by Halle Berry), who is sweet, caring and becomes Marcus’ friend.
You see where this is going, don’t you?
Okay, it’s not the most original storyline, but surprisingly it works pretty well. Murphy is a bit more empathetic than he normally allows himself for be on screen, and he has great chemistry with his two best buddies (David Allan Grier and Martin Lawrence). And while there are a few kind of embarrassing supporting roles played by older stars (Grace Jones, Geoffrey Holder and Eartha Kitt), for the most part it still works surprisingly well.
Boomerang is not as good as Murphy’s original classics, but still it’s one of the few examples that he has still got “it” that has come in the past few decades. Like I said, it’s definitely a movie of its time, but it actually makes for some relatively enjoyable time traveling.
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