Dir. Brian Robbins. US. 2008. 90 mins
The puzzler that is Eddie Murphy's career continues apace with this low-fi kiddy-oriented affair featuring the comedian as both a human-shaped spaceship called Dave Ming-chang and the commander of said vessel.
With Dreamgirls well-established as a flash-in-the-quality-pan, and the stunning comedic turns of the 80s seemingly well in the past, Murphy seems content these days to dole out pieces like this, Norbit and Daddy Day Care in between the Shreks.
Meet Dave certainly isn't excruciating like Norbit or set for box office disaster a la Adventures Of Pluto Nash; instead, it falls towards the Daddy Day Care end of the Murphy spectrum, being relatively inoffensive and genial.
The comedian retains a faithful US audience, which is likely to respond to this, especially on ancillary - but there won't be many new converts to the cause. While the Meet Dave laughs are thin on the ground, they are chuckles a five-year-old will thoroughly enjoy (Eddie sharpens pencil via nostril; wins a hotdog-eating competition and has to expel the buns suddenly, etc).
In a bid for the Galaxy Quest market, Murphy plays Dave, a spaceship created to look like a human, and its pint-sized commander located inside Dave's head. Dave arrives on Earth with a mission; he needs to rescue his own planet, even if that might involve destroying his temporary home.
As Dave struggles to fit in on Earth, his mission brings him into contact with single mother Gina (Elizabeth Banks) and her 11-year-old son Josh (Austyn Lind Myers). In the meantime, his crew, most notably #3 (Gabrielle Union) and #2 (Ed Helms) are becoming altered by their time spent on the planet.
What's most notable about this Brian Robbins-directed effort (he was responsible for Norbit) is the low-level production values on display; it's pretty safe to say that recent Star Trek franchises have featured more convincing sets and effects. With the studios cranking out ever-more sophisticated visual experiences for children (Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, Wall-E), this is very much back to basics. Still, it's unlikely the target audience will notice, and, for the adults, after more than two decades they already know whether they like Eddie Murphy or not - this won't change anybody's opinion either way.
Friendly Films/Guy Walks Into A Bar
20th Century Fox
David T. Friendly
Rob Greenberg & Bill Corbett
Clay A. Griffith