Movie Review: Voici Dave
By Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune Movie Critic
Eddie Murphy has not lost it. He knows, for example, how to intone "my colon is impacted" with the right, robotic precision to bring out its maximum awkwardness.
He is a hugely talented performer, and he's hardly the only A-list star in Hollywood coasting on the odd (usually not odd enough) formulaic PG "family" comedy. But the heartbreaking thing about "Meet Dave," starring Murphy as a brother from another planet inhabited by a team of little men and women supplying his every word and move, is its occasional funniness amid a sea of pablum. If it were completely rank, it'd be less frustrating.
Fleeing its dying planet, a spaceship resembling a human (Murphy) crash-lands near the Statue of Liberty. The tiny little aliens operating the man-ship - Murphy plays its clipped-vowel, vaguely Walter Pidgeony captain - have come to suck the Earth's oceans dry. They need the salt. The plot hinges on a wee asteroid that crash-landed three months earlier in the fish bowl belonging to 11-year-old Josh (Austyn Lind Myers), the son of widow Gina (Elizabeth Banks), who creams Murphy's white-suited alien with her car, and then ... well, by then you're already overloading a simple, workable premise with contrivance.
Screenwriters Rob Greenberg and Bill Corbett are not helped by director Brian Robbins, who guided Murphy in "Norbit." Mainly "Meet Dave" is an extended, repetitive out-of-towner sight gag. Watch Murphy the alien learn to interact with humans. See him smile his fearsome, clinical, teeth-baring grin, which is an act of comic revenge on every white dweeb on the planet. (So was that memorable dork he played in "Bowfinger.") Experience the bonding between Dave and Josh, who learn to appreciate each other's differences and quirks.
The scenario's influences range from "All of Me" to "Innerspace" to "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex" without the sex. Murphy's Dave is typified by a look of pop-eyed otherworldliness. Better material and more adept direction might've made this a perfectly solid commercial enterprise. As is, "Meet Dave" is imperfectly lame, and until Murphy - and other movie stars in his relative position of power - hold out for fresher goods, the multiplexes will continue to offer sporadically diverting time-wasters such as this one.
MPAA rating: PG (for bawdy and suggestive humor, action and some language)
Running time: 1:30
Starring: Eddie Murphy (Dave/Captain); Elizabeth Banks (Gina Morrison); Gabrielle Union (No. 3 - Cultural Officer); Scott Caan (Dooley); Ed Helms (No. 2); Kevin Hart (No. 17)
Directed by Brian Robbins; written by Rob Greenberg and Bill Corbett; photographed by Clark Mathis; visual effects supervised by Mark Stetson; edited by Ned Bastille; music by John Debney; production design by Clay A. Griffith; produced by Jon Berg, Todd Komarnicki and David T. Friendly. A Twentieth Century Fox release.