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With Coming To America and Trading Places on his resume at such an early phase of his career, Eddie Murphy's rising star shot even higher throughout the 1980's. Even the most dedicated comedy fan would find it hard to choose a favorite between the equally funny John Landis directed films, as each is iconic in its own way. And somehow, Murphy himself has selected Coming To America as his preferred entry of the two, and for one interesting reason: it was the first film that allowed him to experiment with multiple characters.
During a conversation with Yahoo, Murphy was asked to choose the more enjoyable film from the two options at hand. With a split second of hesitation, Eddie Murphy selected Coming To America, with the following reasoning as back-up:
I love Trading Places, but Coming to America has one of the things I like to do --- I like the multiple characters. ... When Coming to America came out, I did an old Jewish guy [the wise-cracking barbershop patron Saul] and people didn't know. They'd have to go see it again. That was fun.
At face value, it really is hard to play favorites between Trading Places and Coming To America. Both have hysterical storylines, with an equally funny co-star helping carry the comedic load. Yet after reading Eddie Murphy's thoughts on what made his 1988 classic that much better, it's a hard argument to counter. When Murphy started working with the multiple character model of entertainment, he really made it work. In particular, his work as Saul, the "old Jewish guy" that was a fixture of the local barber shop, is truly something to behold.
For better or worse, if Eddie Murphy never took the role in Coming To America, his career would have been something completely different. Without his multiple personalities of laughter, Murphy would have never landed future roles such as the Klumps in the Nutty Professor remakes. On the other hand, this also means that Norbit may have never happened, thus saving humanity from the horrific fate of having to acknowledge that Norbit actually exists. As with any historical effort worth the time, there's plenty of debate to be had from both ends of the coin.
While Norbit may have brought an end to Eddie Murphy's winning streak of multiple performances, enough time has passed between that film's release and our modern world that he could try again. Despite having a hell of a time trying to land himself a hit film in the past decade or so, Murphy still seems hungry to get back into the game. If switching to dramas like the upcoming Mr. Church doesn't help, then surely a good make-up effects team, some script doctors, and maybe even John Landis himself, could deliver a project that's just waiting for Eddie Murphy to knock it out of the park.
For now though, we'll wait and see if Mr. Church lives up to the hype its trailer has set for the viewing public.,after the film lands in theaters on September 16th.