- Rated PG
- Buy the BD
All photos © 20th Century Fox
Reviewed by David Medsker
ere is all you need to know about “Meet Dave,” the latest Eddie Murphy my-ego-is-so-big-I-must- play-multiple-characters-and-be-onscreen- as-much-as-possible comedy: he skipped its premiere, claiming that he was busy working on his next project. Odd, then, that the director of “Meet Dave,” Brian Robbins, is also the director of Murphy’s next project, yet he found a way to attend the premiere. In other words, Murphy shoots this hyper-vanity project, then abandons the movie when the studio and his co-stars need him the most. Stay classy, Eddie.
Murphy is both the miniature Captain of a ship and the ship itself. Their planet is dying, and needs the salt from our oceans to survive. (This is all spelled out courtesy of some hilariously bad exposition.) Captain’s mission is to retrieve the probe their planet sent months earlier – it missed the ocean, and instead landed in the fishbowl of runt fifth grader Josh (Austyn Myers) – but fulfilling his goal requires spending time with Josh’s mother Gina (Elizabeth Banks) and convincing her that the ship, ultimately named Dave, is human. As Captain gets to know Gina and Josh, he has misgivings about his mission, since saving his planet would mean ending ours.
No movie in recent memory has needed to have its cake and eat it too in order to work, if you can call this a movie that works. Captain and his crew are clearly very smart, yet they are also mind-bogglingly dumb when it is required of them. For example, Captain knows incredibly complex math theories, but doesn’t know not to drink ketchup. Likewise, Captain and his crew are Vulcan-like in their lack of emotion and understanding of humanity, yet after a matter of hours in New York City, begin acting and speaking as if they’ve lived there their whole lives. When Dave walks into a showing of “A Chorus Line,” one of the crew members realizes within seconds that he has a secret, if you know what I mean. You know, because liking musical theater means you’re gay, and it’s fun to laugh at gay people. Oh, and Dave has a hard time getting a cab. Get it? Huh? Because he’s black? Jesus.
Yes, they just went there, along with a number of other places, from the pencil sharpener in the nose to Dave’s ability to produce money…out of his ass. (Insert your own “Norbit” joke here.) It’s all painfully unfunny, but God love Elizabeth Banks and Scott Caan for rising above the mediocrity and giving the movie better performances than it deserves. (Both, though, should fire their agents for getting them into this mess in the first place.) Indeed, Banks and Caan seem to be more invested in the movie’s quality than its star. I guess simply having two lead roles was enough for him.
After seeing “Meet Dave,” you would think that the last ten years of advancing the quality and smarts of children’s fare had never happened. There’s a cynicism to it all, the sense that they know that their movie isn’t very good but make no effort to improve it because it’s “just a kid’s movie.” With any luck, the kids show them what a mistake it is to underestimate their intelligence, and movies like this will cease to exist forevermore. At the very least, let’s hope that this is the last time that anyone allows Eddie Murphy to play more than one part at any given time. One Eddie is enough, thank you.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
Considering how poorly “Meet Dave” did in theaters, it’s a bit surprising to find such a wealth of material on the single-disc release. Along with the usual suspects (making-of featurette, deleted scenes, alternate ending, gag reel), the Blu-ray also includes the aptly named “Crew Profiles,” where the crew of Starship Dave (sans Eddie Murphy, of course) discuss their job descriptions, among other things, as well three Fox Movie Channel Presents specials. Of that group, the “Life After Film School” interview with director Brian Robbins is the only one worth watching, but those looking for a laugh will also want to check out “Making a Scene.” In it, the filmmakers discuss the challenges they faced in making the sidewalk sequence look credible, when in reality, it looks like something the "MST3K" guys would rip apart. How ironic, then, that "MST3K" vet Bill Corbett was a co-writer on the film.