Eddie Murphy is set to star in New Line’s Grumpy Old Men remake, to be directed by Ride Along helmer Tim Story. The original Grumpy Old Men starred legendary acting duo Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in a tale of two elderly neighbors locked in an ages-old feud. Their bad blood reaches a boiling point when a new neighbor (Ann-Margret) moves in next door and stokes both men’s romantic fires.
Released in 1993, Grumpy Old Men would go on to gross $70 million at the box office ($155 million when adjusted for inflation). A 1995 sequel Grumpier Old Men, which added Sophia Loren to the cast, grossed $71 million ($150 million when adjusted for inflation). The chemistry between Lemmon and Matthau would prove to be the magic ingredient that helped both Grumpy Old Men and its sequel transcend their formulaic material and become enduring comedy hits.
Now, New Line will revisit Grumpy Old Men with Eddie Murphy attached in one of the lead roles (via Deadline). Tim Story will handle producing and directing duties on the film, with John Davis also onboard as a producer. The film does not as yet have a title, nor does it have a second actor to work alongside Murphy. Deadline says Samuel L. Jackson has been proposed as Murphy’s co-star, and indeed Jackson recently worked with Tim Story on the latest remake of Shaft.
Murphy was of course once considered a comedic movie talent big enough to rival legends the stature of Lemmon or Matthau. After launching a successful stand-up career, Murphy’s star rose on Saturday Night Live, then he became a movie star through a string of hits including 48 Hrs., Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop and Coming to America. After a run of box office failures, the previously R-rated Murphy settled in to a second career as more of a family-friendly comedian in movies like The Nutty Professor, Doctor Dolittle and Shrek. Murphy can next be seen playing ‘70s cult icon Rudy Ray Moore in the biopic Dolemite is My Name. There are also persistent stories that Beverly Hills Cop 4 could still happen.
Murphy has occasionally looked poised to mount a legitimate A-list comeback, but thus far the return of golden era Murphy longed for by many fans has yet to materialize. It remains to be seen if New Line’s new take on Grumpy Old Men will be the vehicle that returns Murphy to his old form. Much will depend on the script of course, and who is chosen to star alongside Murphy. Jackson would no doubt be an intriguing choice, especially if the film aims for more of an edgy, adult tone. The original Grumpy Old Men was farcical and grouchy, but stayed on the PG-13 side of the line.