Dir: Willard Huyck, 1984
2/10 (For the movie as a whole)
3/10 (For the added Eddie Murphy scenes)
Primarily a film for Cuddly Dudley Moore, Best Defense (or Best Defence as it was released in the UK) was such a bomb with preview audiences, that Eddie Murphy was hastily added and the plot re-written to accommodate his involvement. This re-edit hasn’t done anything to improve the film, so how bad the original cut was, doesn’t bear thinking about.
Wiley Cooper (Dudley Moore) is an engineer in 1982, developing a tank for the US army. When another engineer dies, Wiley takes the dead man’s design and passed it off as his own.
In 1984 Kuwait, Lt. Landry (Eddie Murphy) is the unfortunate soul who is tasked with demonstrating Wiley’s design. Unfortunately for Landry, the design was made cheaply and is beset with problems, one of which forces the tank into the battle zone of the (then fictional) Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
Screenwriting duo, Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, have never really had a lot of success in Hollywood and have earned themselves a fairly negative reputation. The pair’s biggest hit, was writing Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom for Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.
After the disastrous Howard: A New Breed Of Hero (aka Howard The Duck), Huyck never directed another feature and neither of them wrote anything significant.
It’s really not surprising, as Best Defense is utterly dreadful, devoid of any laughs and lacking a coherent plot.
The film, continually switches back and forth between 1982 and 1984, with neither of the plots, or stars, coming into contact. A scene where Moore and Murphy meet, was filmed but deleted.
In fairness, the idea of having two plots that are parallel to each other, with the second one being a consequence of the first, is rather clever, and in the right hands could have worked. It may even have worked, if that had been the premise from the start. But, because it’s a quick fix solution, the poor material and haphazard editing, merely work against the film.
The ever delightful Eddie Murphy, has a way of turning shite into gold. However, even the “strategic guest star” can’t polish this turd. By his own admission, the Saturday Night Live star took the role for the money and let’s it show. There is absolutely zero effort in his performance, and every scene emits a stench of disinterest.
Once you’ve seen Best Defense, you will fully understand Murphy’s reluctance to give anything to the part. The entire film is a cringingly unfunny mess. Dudley Moore has so little appeal in this, it’s a wonder he got offered any more roles.
What on earth made Paramount Pictures think, that adding inserts of Eddie Murphy, would save the film is anybody’s guess. Best Defense was, and is, an unsalvageable waste of celluloid.
Grim, miserable and depressing, are the only epithets that I can muster to describe this decaying carbuncle.
Just plain horrible.