We can’t help but feel that, decades from now, the early career of Eddie Murphy will be a trivia question. “Which star of terrible children’s movies was once was an edgy, ground-breaking stand-up comedian, and star of comedy classics like ‘48 Hours‘ and ‘Trading Places‘?” Since the mid 1980s or so, Murphy has seemingly gone out of his way to make absolute shit, with only the occasional glimmer of hope — “Bowfinger” was pretty good, “Life” is underrated, and we suppose he was fun in the original “Shrek,” although subsequent sequels have run that one into the ground by now.
What seemed to be a brief run at respectability with a supporting turn in “Dreamgirls” sadly came to naught: Murphy was terrific in the part, but thanks to his ungracious behavior on the awards circuit, and the fact that the film was AWFUL, he was beaten out for the win by Alan Arkin, and despite giving fans some hope with an appearance in the upcoming “Tower Heist,” he has clearly reverted to his old ways: Alcon Entertainment has announced that the comic star will voice the title character in a live-action/animated big-screen version of Hanna-Barbera‘s “Hong Kong Phooey.”
As we all know, Hong Kong Phooey was the star of a 1970s cartoon, a mild-mannered police janitor who would turn it into a kung-fu superhero at the first sign of trouble, something apparently more surprising than the fact that he was a talking dog in a world full of humans. The character’s now following in the footsteps of recent recycle-happy kids’ hits like “Yogi Bear” and “The Smurfs” onto the big screen.
And in case you held out any hope, the script comes from the acclaimed likes of Kirk De Micco (“Space Chimps“), David A. Goodman (“Fred: The Movie“) and William Robertson (“Inspector Gadget 2“), while direct-to-video sequel king Alex Zamm, whose credits include the Carrot Top vehicle “Chairman of the Board,” “Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts,” “Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2” and the upcoming Larry The Cable Guy starrer “Tooth Fairy 2,” is at the helm. So, yes, essentially the poor man’s Raja Gosnell.
Producers Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove say that, “We could not be happier that Eddie Murphy will star as Phooey. There is no overstating his contributions to cinema, and to such enduring stars of family entertainments such as ‘Shrek’ and ‘Dr. Doolittle.’ We look forward to watching him re-imagine yet another classic character.” There’s also a plot synopsis, which you can read below. Advance warning: the word “wacky” is used. There’s no news on a production start date yet, so we’re probably a couple of years away from seeing it, which, if nothing else, is a good reminder to us all to use contraception for the next eighteen months or so, so we don’t have to take our offspring to see it.
Based on the 70’s cult classic Hanna Barbera animated TV series, a mild-mannered dog named PENRY (Murphy) stumbles into a mystic ceremony and is accidentally granted mystic powers, including the ability to walk, talk, and do kung fu. Under the tutelage of his kung fu master, Penry dons a costume and becomes Hong Kong Phooey, and with the help of his trusting sidekick Spot the cat cleans up a rogues gallery of wacky criminals.