C'MON HOLLYWOOD: What the hell happened to Chris Tucker?

...what the hell happened to Chris Tucker?
by J.A. Hamilton

The ebb and flow of comedy seems to fluctuate back and forth every ten years or so. The eighties gave us Eddie Murphy, a man who’s comedic exploits are not only renown but have even become a base or stepping stone for today’s comedians. But the late nineties saw Eddie begin to lose form and I truly believe that it was a variety of things that led to this; fatherhood being one, but comedy standards and etiquette no doubt also played a role. The trash talking, vulgar comedy days seemed numbered until one of my buddies introduced me to a little comedy called FRIDAY and a hilarious actor named Chris Tucker. His career began to soar and I truly though he was comedy’s next Eddie Murphy until suddenly he just seemed to vanish.

Where are ya bro, there are laughs to be had.

FRIDAY was the film that started opening doors for this young actor and I’m not surprised. Sure, his language was brazen and over the top but his razor sharp wit and charisma were hard to ignore. Others have tried to mimic the “Eddie Murphy” style of comedy like Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence for example. Lawrence was great in the BAD BOYS flicks and BLUE STREAK and Rock has had a couple hits as well (though I prefer his stand-up) but neither of them compare to Chris Tucker in my book. Now FRIDAY spawned a couple sequels, both of which Tucker’s character Smokey was absent, I wasn’t happy about this but I can understand how he wanted to move on to bigger and better things rather than bleed a good thing dry. With similar character roles in HOUSE PARTY 3 and DEAD PRESIDENTS it was time to broaden his horizons.

FRIDAY 2 and 3 weren't the same without the smoke dog.

I was both happy and surprised to him show up in THE FIFTH ELEMENT alongside Bruce and Milla. I loved that film and his character Ruby Rhod was hilarious. Obviously I wasn’t the only one who thought so as the day I was hoping for came soon after when he got the lead in MONEY TALKS starring alongside Charlie Sheen. MONEY TALKS is still one of my favourite comedies, Tucker steals the show (easily) and again, despite his offensive language, the guy wins you over no matter how hard to try to deny him (I’m saying this as far as an objective on the fence fan goes). My girlfriend instantly became a fan after FIFTH ELEMENT, and nearly every guy I know loves him because of FRIDAY. The fan base was there and MONEY TALKS just pushed him forward. His career seemed to be booming and then along came RUSH HOUR.

I still laugh my ass off when he does the whole "BZZZZZ" thing.

To be fair, I’m not going to hate on RUSH HOUR. I loved that film as well. I was unsure about Jackie Chan as I’d avoided all his RUMBLE IN THE BRONX type films that started coming out of nowhere and multiplying rather quickly. That changed when I watched SHANGHAI NOON and saw that Chan could be funny. With this in mind I was open to the idea of him and Tucker teaming up for RUSH HOUR and was happy with the outcome. Though RUSH HOUR was rated AA, Tucker did have to tone down his antics a bit ala Eddie Murphy and it was here I started to get a little worried. Then came the sequel. RUSH HOUR 2 wasn’t all that bad, though again, they watered it down quite a bit from the first one. I was hoping Tucker would move on from this, but RUSH HOUR 3 came a calling and just ruined the entire series.

You can't go out like this, Chris. You just can't.

In the end, I can’t blame THE RUSH HOUR films per say, I would like to think it’s not because of the money, as I’m sure he made a substantial amount off that trilogy and with the past couple years of reinvented raunchy comedies I’m fairly confident it’s not a matter of his persona and language being in poor taste either. So I’m confused and in need of answers. If guys like Dane Cook can make mediocre comedy after comedy these days, I feel the time is right to see Chris Tucker re-immerge and reclaim a seat at the comedy round table. I have no idea what in hell happened to him and he’s got no movies in the pipeline that I know of (thank God there’s no talk of a fourth RUSH HOUR), so please find him and tell him that his fan base is still very much alive and waiting for a comeback.
Extra Tidbit: I met Chris Tucker in Toronto at Much Music when he was promoting RUSH HOUR three. He was a super cool dude, but his bodyguards were eyeballing me the whole time like they wanted to break me in half.
Source: JoBlo.com



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