Release Date(s)1992 (June 28, 2022)
Studio(s)Imagine Entertainment/Eddie Murphy Productions (Paramount Pictures)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: B-
After his great stint on Saturday Night Live, Eddie Murphy went on to a career in movies with the comedy hits 48 Hrs, Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop, and Coming to America. With Boomerang, Murphy attempted to reinvent his screen image from cocky jokester to romantic leading man.
Marcus (Murphy) is a marketing chief at a New York City cosmetics firm. He is also a highly successful womanizer who seeks out attractive women for pleasure, then dumps them when new potential conquests come into view. Marcus meets his match in Jacqueline Broyer (Robin Givens), his new boss, who gives him a taste of his own medicine. Marcus falls hard for Jacqueline only to endure her emotional abuse. She wants a ready bedroom fling when the spirit hits. He suddenly finds himself wanting commitment.
Co-worker Angela (Halle Berry) is the other girl in the picture—the friend and good girl. Because old habits die hard, Marcus is attracted to Angela, too, and finds time to split his attention between her and Jacqueline.
The film bases its premise on role reversal. Movies traditionally portray men as hunters, seeking women, enjoying the pleasure they provide, and then moving on, with no thought of forming a relationship apart from what happens between the sheets. There’s a memorable scene in which Marcus awakens to find Jacqueline getting dressed and ready to go home. As she saunters toward the door, Marcus feebly calls after her, “Call me,” and then notices the $200 she’s left for him on a night table. Marcus pulls the covers up and hunches his shoulders, indicating he feels objectified.
Murphy sails through the film in low key. Gone are the braying laughs, the wide-eyed expressions, and wisecracks. Instead, we see an intelligent adult with a serious flaw. The model for Boomerang might have been the Doris Day sex comedies of the early 1960s. Its R rating, however, allows for so many graphic bedroom scenes that they become tiresome.
Givens is effective at playing a player. A woman who knows the power of her attributes, Jacqueline uses them to seduce with nary a thought of deepening a relationship. Her “love ‘em and leave ‘em” modus operandi is initially shocking, since we think the film is heading into familiar rom-com territory. But Jacqueline is self-confident, attractive, in control, and entirely selfish. Self-made and in a position of authority, she cares nothing for the emotional damage she leaves in her wake.
Angela, in contrast, takes romance seriously and won’t put up with Marcus’ dalliances, half-hearted excuses, and petulant apologies. There’s an edgy scene in which she confronts a speechless Marcus, showing she’s no easy pushover, punctuating her angry tirade by giving him a well-deserved slap.
A good deal of comedy relief is provided by Marcus’ buddies, Tyler (Martin Lawrence) and Gerard (David Alan Grier), whose primary topic of conversation is women. When Murphy joins them, the three pals banter with an easy repartee that feels authentic. Murphy defers to Lawrence and Grier, allowing them to take the spotlight in these sequences.
A young Chris Rock has a couple of brief scenes as Bony T, the mailroom guy, and elicits smiles more from his enthusiastic energy than from his dialogue. Eartha Kitt appears as the titular head of Lady Louise Cosmetics, an aging vamp who’s never too old to initiate her own seduction. Grace Jones is simply wonderful playing a parody of herself. Tisha Campbell plays Yvonne, Marcus’ nosey next-door neighbor whose self-appointed job it is to warn off the women that Marcus brings home. Geoffrey Holder is an advertising executive whose ad campaigns border on the X-rated.
Boomerang was shot by director of photography Woody Owens on 35 mm film with Panavision Panaflex Gold II cameras and Panavision Primo lenses, finished photochemically, and presented in the widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Paramount’s new Blu-ray edition features a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Clarity overall is very good, with nicely delineated details in the decor of Marcus’ apartment, wood grain, and clothing patterns. Most of the film takes place in interiors, and lighting is soft. Complexions are natural, and the color palette tends toward brighter hues, with reds especially impressive. Grace Jones’ costumes and make-up are intentionally over the top.
The soundtrack is English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Other options are German, French, and Japanese, all 2.0 Dolby Digital. Subtitle options include English, English SDH, German, French, and Japanese. Dialogue is clear and distinct throughout. In scenes with Murphy, Lawrence and Grier, the actors speak very quickly, sometimes overlapping, yet they are easily understood. Grace Jones’ first appearance features music fit for the entrance of a monarch. Marcus Miller’s score punctuates certain moments with a loud note for emphasis. In romantic scenes, the music is subtle and properly sets the mood. Surround effects are good, with music emanating primarily from rear channels. In crowd scenes, there’s excellent movement right to left and left to right.
Bonus materials include the following
- Audio Commentary with Reginald Hudlin
- Extended and Deleted Scenes with Optional Director’s Commentary:
- Thanksgiving at Marcus’ Place (1:14)
- Strange’s Arrival at the Dinner (:19)
- Bony T Asks Marcus About Sex with Jackie (:26)
- First Dinner Between Jackie & Marcus (:52)
- Dinner Between Gerard & Angela (1:59)
In the audio commentary, director Reginald Hudlin notes that he wanted to show Eddie Murphy as he’d never been seen before on screen. He wanted to tap into more of Murphy’s talent than had ever been shown. Hudlin elaborates on the importance of Murphy’s star power. Murphy was ready for a change, and the film depicts him in the mold of a Cary Grant romantic leading man. When he saw rough footage of what had been filmed, Murphy was pleased and commented that he had never looked as relaxed in a movie before. Boomerang was Hudlin’s second feature film. Murphy, Martin Lawrence, and David Alan Grier created enormous comedy moments. Chris Rock, at the time, was building his career and reputation. According to Hudlin, “Everyone was having fun every day.” The film had a huge wardrobe budget, and lots of money was spent on the picture’s production design. Grace Jones had a lot of input on her own costumes, had no problem playing a parody of herself, and was 100% committed. Hudlin is proud of Boomerang and notes that the film made $70 million in the United States and $130 million worldwide. It was also a hit on home video.
Boomerang presents Eddie Murphy as a guy learning firsthand what it feels like to be seen merely as a sex object. His reactions are amusing, but the film’s theme comes across effectively. Once the role-reversal gimmick becomes apparent, the film moves along a predictable path until the final credits roll.
- Dennis Seuling