1. He's not edgy
"I've lost a lot of my cool and edge, I think," Murphy told Vulture last year while on the stump for 'Shrek Forever After.' "I don't know. I think my cool and edge are gone." Translation: he's perfect for the Oscars, a place where "edge" extends to James Franco checking his iPhone for texts onstage. With a recent resume cluttered with family-friendly successes like 'Shrek' (and family-friendly disasters like 'Meet Dave'), Murphy is very far removed from the filthy, leather jacket-wearing motormouth he was during 'Delirious' and 'Raw'. That's a good thing when dealing with an institution like the Oscars. Edgy simply doesn't work. (See: Chris Rock, David Letterman.)
2. He's got a lot to lose!
Even before being anointed the next Oscar host, the upcoming six months were poised as make-or-break for Murphy. In November, he's co-starring opposite Ben Stiller in 'Tower Heist,' Murphy's first chance at non-animated/non-fat-suit box office success since 'Dreamgirls' in 2006; in January, he'll lead in 'A Thousand Words,' a high-concept dramedy about a man who finds out he only has 1,000 words to speak before he dies. (Hence the title.) Now toss in the Oscars at the end of February, and you've got the recipe for a major Hollywood comeback. If Murphy nails the Academy Awards gig, he can set himself up for the next five years; if he fails, he'll be lucky to find another 'Norbit.'
3. He's a home run hitter!
Assuming Murphy is still funny - i.e., his sullen off-screen nature and lack of recent stand-up experience hasn't caused his 'Raw' and 'Delirious' skills to atrophy beyond repair - he's capable of absolutely wowing audiences. With James Franco and Anne Hathaway, the feeling before the Oscars telecast was "Hopefully they can do it!" With Murphy, it will be "Can he be the funniest Oscars host ever?" Make no mistake, the potential of him reaching that lofty hyperbole exists. Whether or not Murphy can succeed will be part of the fun in watching.
4. He's not James Franco!