What kind of planet would design a spaceship in the image of Eddie Murphy? Probably the same place Pluto Nash came from, the movie graveyard where Meet Dave is heading.
Meet Dave is another nail in the coffin of a once-fabulous comedian's career. Not a single moment in Brian Robbins' movie recalls the young Eddie Murphy who dazzled audiences 20 years ago on Saturday Night Live, then racked up an extraordinary run of memorable movies.
Today's Murphy has lost his edge. Even when he manages something remarkable, like Dreamgirls, there's a Norbit right around the corner to dash all hopes.
Murphy plays a spaceship in Meet Dave. Sent from the planet Nil (as in nothing, nada, zero), the spaceship lands on Earth to retrieve a rock that will drain our oceans for the salt Nil needs to survive.
As usual, Murphy plays more than one role. Only one more: spaceship Dave's miniature captain inside his head.
The captain is fascinated with the humans Dave encounters, especially widowed Gina (Elizabeth Banks) and her movie-kid adorable son (Austin Lynd Myers).
Dave's No. 2 officer (Ed Helms) — named No. 2 — plans to mutiny and destroy Earth. No. 3 (Gabrielle Union) is jealous of the captain's crush on Gina. No. 4 (Pat Kilbane) is inspired by Earth's free expression to come out of the closet, a jarring stereotype in a movie loaded with childish jokes.
Meet Dave looks shockingly cheap for reportedly costing $100-million to make. Green screen effects contrasting tiny Nilians with New York City's hazards have a tell-tale aura, and the interior of Dave's head is unremarkable. It isn't an eyesore like The Adventures of Pluto Nash's sci-fi setting, but dull is an entirely different kind of bad.
The jokes are divided into silly non sequiturs and crudely immature gags (Dave scanning a $20 bill then pooping counterfeit bills is the worst).
It's depressing to watch Murphy so disinterested in what he's doing, when fans are still interested in seeing what he does.
He didn't even show at the Meet Dave premiere in Los Angeles this week. If he doesn't think the movie's worth the trouble, why should we?
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at blogs.tampabay.com/movies.