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Paramount Studios presents
Eddie Murphy Raw (1987)

"Now I can't have no 'curse' show. I mean, I gotta throw in a few jokes in between the curses."
- Eddie Murphy

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: September 16, 2004

Stars: Eddie Murphy
Director: Robert Townsend

MPAA Rating: R for (strong language, sexual humor)
Run Time: 01h:30m:09s
Release Date: September 07, 2004
UPC: 097363203742
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B C-C-B D-

DVD Review

It's hard to reconcile the "new" Eddie Murphy (star of successful family films like Dr. Dolittle, The Nutty Professor, and Daddy Day Care) with the old (foul-mouthed comedian with a love of racist/sexist/sexual material). Murphy himself seems to have trouble with the distinction, and has even attempted to whitewash his past, barring the re-release of his first hit special, Delirious. Not that I blame him, as many of the jokes in that routine attacked gays for passing AIDS and HIV to heterosexuals and included numerous and insensitive riffs about the way the virus is transmitted. Not exactly a shining moment for comedy.

Unfortunately for Murphy, he had no such control over Eddie Murphy Raw, the concert film based on his 1987 act. While at the time, it was certainly a success—Murphy was one of the biggest movie stars around thanks to 48 Hours and The Beverly Hills Cop, and his star power attracted legions of fans, propelling the film to a gross north of $50 million—it stands now as an almost joke-free affair, an excuse for the comedian to swear, creatively and unyieldingly, for 90 minutes while screaming fans stroke his rock star ego.

I have nothing against blue humor, I'm not offended by swearing or sexual humor, but I like jokes to be identifiable as, well, jokes. Raw, aptly named not for its content, but Murphy's attitude, is just full of anger. Murphy seems angry at his family, angry at fellow comedians (including Bill Cosby, who gets mocked ruthlessly because he had the gall to criticize Murphy for using too much profanity in his routine), and, most of all, angry at women.

A large portion of this act is made up of crass material about all the "bitches" out there desperate for a piece of ol' Eddie, and he attacks women in general as leeches and worse. I get that he probably had some bad experiences with women who only cared about him for his fame, but it doesn't make any of his material on the subject less distasteful or, you know, funny. Director Robert Townsend does his best with the material, but it's a fairly standard concert film, save for a bland opening sketch in which the young Eddie Murphy delivers his first off-color routine.

The main problem with Raw is that it's not so much about entertaining an audience as it is about promoting all things Eddie Murphy. Before he experienced bombs at the box office and worse ("I was just giving her a ride home, officer. I didn't know she was a 'he.'"), Murphy's ego was out of control, and this program captures him at the height of hubris. Just look at the rock star entrance he gives himself—and the ridiculous leather jumpsuit he wears throughout. As offensive as some might find the material today, Delirious took risks, pushed the envelope, and relied on jokes as well as shock value for laughs. Raw is all about ego and anger, and there's nothing funny about that.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Recorded live and released theatrically, Eddie Murphy Raw has a bigger budget than most of these types of programs, and the results show up onscreen. The film stock used was motion picture quality, and though it's been 20 years since the taping, the image looks crisp and colorful, with fairly deep blacks, though contrast is poor at times and Murphy tends to disappear into the background (though much of that is due to the lighting on stage). However, the source print used for this transfer looks terrible. Dirt and scratches are omnipresent, and a few sections look downright awful, with the entire screen swimming in debris and dirt. This would have been a fair transfer were it not for the poor shape of the print used.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in a DD 2.0 mix that places Murphy front and center and mixes the laughs and hoots from the crowd into the mains and the surrounds. It's a simple mix for simple material, and gets the job done nicely.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: As is the norm for Paramount catalogue releases, which emphasize technical quality over extras, Eddie Murphy Raw comes to DVD sans bonus materials. Except, sans the technical quality too, in this case.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

If you're a fan of the "old" Eddie Murphy, I suss this disc will be an essential purchase. Though not for the easily offended, Paramount's DVD release of this smash hit concert film offers a watchable (if only just) transfer at a fair price, $14.95 retail, or just a penny per curse word. Fans of the kinder, gentler Murphy need not apply.


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