When Chris Rock broke through with his 1996 HBO special “Bring the Pain,” it made me reappraise Eddie Murphy as a standup comedian. Because, let’s face it... Eddie wasn’t really saying much.
He is a gifted actor and a Hall-of-Fame sketch comic. But “Eddie Murphy Raw” – hot as that movie was in 1988 – is about Eddie Murphy ego-tripping and indulging his contempt for various and sundry targets.
It lacks the courageous self-scrutiny of Richard Pryor’s best material (and the political sophistication of even Rock’s weakest).
Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel disagreed along these lines when they reviewed the film. They disagreed quite strongly, in fact.