This week we pick up in the 1986 cycle where we left off: at the beginning. In choosing a comedy film for the week we basically had two choices: the very straightforward comedy that we know is trash but was a small release no one really remembers exists (Club Paradise starring Robin Williams) OR one of the blockbuster releases of the year starring one of the megastars of the decade, but which isn’t quite a straightforward comedy and isn’t quite as poorly reviewed (The Golden Child starring Eddie Murphy). While we would typically pick the forgotten gem, we figured since we are doing this in commemoration of the year of our birth we should try to hit the major releases that may have defined the year for bad movie watchers. So without further ado we are watching The Golden Child starring Eddie Murphy. Shaping up to be quite the BMT year for Murphy. Already seen him in Harlem Nights and Norbit got elected to the Hall of Fame. Congrats. Let’s go!
The Golden Child (1986) – BMeTric: 29.6
(That’s what I like to see. Kind of a rare BMeTric profile in that it sits perfectly on an inflection such that the regression to the mean pushes it up and then back down over the past 15 years. And yet all of that said … a fairly straightforward graph.)
Leonard Maltin – BOMB – Top candidate for worst megahit of all time. A “perfect” child (Reate) is kidnapped despite his magical powers; as foretold by an ancient oracle, only Murphy can rescue him. Lewis is more wooden than most ex-models; entire reels go by with nary a chuckle. A box-office smash – but have you ever met anyone who liked it?
(That was rough. I think we’ll see a few BOMBs in this cycle. Leonard seems to really dislike the classically terrible film. Quality semi-colon game by Leonard as usual, but grim prognosis for the movie. Sounds boring. Gulp.)
(Nope. Not jazzed. But that is just a “Eddie Murphy is in this!” trailer. As Leonard said this is right on the tails of Beverly Hills Cop, so they were really going for a similar vibe. The attitude does feel the same, but I can also see that the humor doesn’t seem quite right. It seems like a stretch.)
Directors – Michael Ritchie – (Known For: Downhill Racer; The Bad News Bears; Fletch; The Candidate; The Couch Trip; Prime Cut; The Island; Midnight Sting; Semi-Tough; Smile; The Fantasticks; BMT: Cops and Robbersons; The Golden Child; The Scout; A Simple Wish; Fletch Lives; Wildcats; Notes: Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1981 for Worst Director for The Island. Huh I’ve never heard of The Island. Known initially for his sports movies, he moved into comedies in the late 80s. Described as “consistently inconsistent” by critics struggling to describe what seems, to me, to be a weirdly varied filmography. He died in 2001.)
Writers – Dennis Feldman (written by) – (Known For: Just One of the Guys; BMT: Species II; Virus; Species; The Golden Child; Notes: Just One of the Guys! I can’t believe that isn’t BMT. Interestingly both Feldman and Ritchie went to Harvard. Worked as a script doctor before his big break with Just One of the Guys. Virus was his last film, but he’s been involved with the writer’s guild for years.)
Actors – Eddie Murphy – (Known For: Coming to America; Shrek; Shrek 2; Mulan; Beverly Hills Cop; Trading Places; Shrek the Third; Dreamgirls; Tower Heist; Shrek Forever After; The Nutty Professor; Beverly Hills Cop II; Life; Boomerang; 48 Hrs.; Doctor Dolittle; Bowfinger; Dr. Dolittle 2; Imagine That; BMT: Norbit; Nutty Professor II: The Klumps; Pluto Nash; Vampire in Brooklyn; The Haunted Mansion; Meet Dave; Holy Man; I Spy; Beverly Hills Cop III; Showtime; Daddy Day Care; Metro; Another 48 Hrs.; The Golden Child; A Thousand Words; The Distinguished Gentleman; Harlem Nights; Razzie Notes: Won the Razzie Award in 2010 for Worst Actor of the Decade for The Adventures of Pluto Nash, I Spy, Imagine That, Meet Dave, Norbit, and Showtime; Won the Razzie Award in 2008 for Worst Actor, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress for Norbit; Won the Razzie Award in 1990 for Worst Screenplay for Harlem Nights; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2013 for Worst Actor for A Thousand Words, in 2010 for Imagine That, in 2009 for Meet Dave, and 2003 for The Adventures of Pluto Nash, I Spy, and Showtime; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2008 for Worst Screenplay for Norbit; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 2009 for Worst Screen Couple for Meet Dave, in 2008 for Norbit, and in 2003 for The Adventures of Pluto Nash, I Spy, and Showtime; Nominated for the Razzie Award in 1990 for Worst Director for Harlem Nights Notes: As we said mere months ago for Harlem Nights “Major movie star and stand-up comic. One of the most prominent BMT actors of our age”. Mr. Church came out to lackluster reviews recently, although Murphy was widely lauded for his effective dramatic turn.)
Also stars J.L. Reate – (The titular Golden Child. She was literally only in this movie … filmography complete!) and Charles Dance – (Famous for Game of Thrones now. Has never been in a BMT film and doesn’t seem like he is in any others …. but he was in the Australian movie Patrick! Sadly the remake, not the 1978 classic.)
Budget/Gross – $25 million / Domestic: $79,817,937 (N/A)
(As Leonard said this was a huge box office success at the time, the eighth biggest film of the year. But it was considered a disappointment by the studio which was hoping for something more along the lines of the $200+ million take of Beverly Hills Cop)
Rotten Tomatoes – 26% (5/19): No consensus yet.
(No consensus!? But that just won’t do. I’ll make one: A precursor to Murphy’s turn towards family-friendly fare, The Golden Child is too lightweight and silly. While amusing at times, it isn’t enough to save what is ultimately a bore. Blah, even I think it is boring and I haven’t even seen the movie yet!)
Poster – The Sklog-en Child (A)
(I … love this poster. Just feels like the 80s. I find it beautiful. And there is no way to mock it! Replacing those letters would be painful. The only critique personally is that it is very Eddie Murphy in your face. But then again, that was the point of the movie.)
Tagline(s) – Eddie Murphy Is The Chosen One (C)
(Blah. And The Chosen One is meaningless outside of the movie’s context. This tagline could just be “Eddie Murphy is in this movie!” and it would be just as effective in my opinion. It is boring, but serviceable. Especially combined with that bomb poster.)
Keyword(s) – child; Top Ten by BMeTric: 75.3 Troll 2 (1990); 71.7 Baby Geniuses (1999); 64.4 Honey I Blew Up the Kid (1992); 62.4 Saving Christmas (2014); 56.1 Poltergeist III (1988); 53.2 A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child (1989); 53.1 Cold Creek Manor (2003); 50.0 Wild Orchid (1989); 49.4 Suburban Commando (1991); 47.8 Halloween 5 (1989);
(What a weird list and weird keyword. Just child … although appropriate for Golden Child I suppose. I am looking forward to Suburban Commando. Do you think we can do a Hulkamania cycle? Maybe if we open to all wrestlers and got a loosey goosey with the rules.)
Notes – Although the Golden Child is referred to as a boy throughout the film, J.L. Reate is actually a girl.
Originally intended as a serious adventure drama with Mel Gibson in the lead role. After Gibson turned the film down and Eddie Murphy replaced him, the script was rewritten as a partial comedy. (You’d think since this so frequently gets mentioned in movie disaster post-mortems that it would be avoided … but maybe it happens so often to great success that the benefits outweigh the pitfalls. Who knows)
On the return flight from Nepal, Eddie Murphy starts to sing with the music on the headphones on the plane. The third line/gibberish he sings is, “Eddie Murphy is a cool man.”
Eddie Murphy turned down a role in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) in order to make this film. (Saaaaaaaaay what. Although I can see it. He would probably help Kirk and Spock get to the aquarium to see the whales to boisterous laughs. Sigh. What could have been.
John Barry was commissioned by Paramount Pictures to compose, produce, and record a complete score. However, Barry was taken off the project after creative differences and reaction to test screenings . Although Michel Colombier completed the score, a few cues by Barry remain in the film, and one, “Wisdom of the Ages”, was released on the original soundtrack LP. As of the present, the entirety of both Barry’s largely unused music and Colombier’s final theatrical version score have been issued on a limited edition 3-CD soundtrack by Capitol/La-La Land Records. (I know what Jamie is getting for Christmas)
In the dream, when Chandler meets Sardo, Fu and “The Fat dude” and Sardo carves the dagger on Chandler’s arm, the set is the same used in the last few seasons of Webster (1983) (Ha!)