Review: Meet Dave
Eddie Murphy plays a spaceship (!) that looks like a human being, and is manned by a miniature crew, captained by Eddie Murphy. Yep. They’re on some kind of retrieval mission and apparently the thing they are looking for somehow got lost and landed in the bedroom of a young boy (Austin Lynd Myers). Before they can get the special item back, the boy’s mother (Elizabeth Banks) accidentally hits the vessel with her car. Assuming she has just hit a person, she tries to make nice and invites the ‘man’ to her apartment, noticing only slightly how weird it is that, y’know…he’s not killed the fuck dead or anything. The spaceship (thanks to the quick-googling crew) uses the terribly common name of Dave Ming Chang, and quickly builds a rapport with both child and single mother, especially the former. Meanwhile, the crew learn about Earth/human culture. Gabrielle Union, Ed Helms, and Kevin Hart play members of the crew, Scott Caan is an idiot conspiracy theorist cop, and Marc Blucas plays the EXACT same character Marc Blucas ALWAYS plays (i.e. The guy who wants the girl but never, ever gets her unless the guy the girl really wants goes off to make his own spin-off TV show and only occasionally turns up to act all moody and broody. I digress).
Eddie Murphy used to be dangerous, hip and often painfully funny once upon a time, I’d like it to be known. It was called the 1980s, a glorious era began by the birth of yours truly (And yes the deaths of John Lennon and Bon Scott, but c’mon…). Unfortunately, even in his heyday he was hit (“48HRS”, “Beverly Hills Cop”, “Trading Places”, “Coming to America”) and miss (“Best Defense”, “Harlem Nights”, “The Golden Child”). Now, the man’s hits (“Bowfinger”, “Shrek”, and the musical-drama “Dreamgirls”) are far outweighed by the misses (too many to list, really), most of which are alleged comedies that are ‘family friendly’ in nature. This 2008 film from director Brian Robbins (“Varsity Blues”, “Ready to Rumble”, the infamous “Norbit”) and screenwriters Bill Corbett (“Mystery Science Theatre 3000”) and Rob Greenberg (TV’s occasionally funny “How I Met Your Mother” and the very clever “Frasier”), isn’t quite the “Innerspace” rip-off that the ads made it look like, but it’s still an entirely witless, neutered affair well beneath the talent of its surprisingly stacked cast. It’s basically a fish-out-of-water comedy about an alien, something like “The Coneheads” with somewhat normal speaking voices and regular-shaped heads. That film was awful, and the only moment in this entire film that I liked (aside from a chuckle-worthy bit with an MRI scan) is where the kid asks ‘They don’t high-five where you’re from?’ and Dave replies ‘No, but they should!’. It’s a cute moment because he’s trying to relate to the boy. Either that or he just thinks high-fives are like totally awesome. Either way, it’s a brief moment that works. The rest is the drizzling shits, though the seemingly absolutely lovely Elizabeth Banks manages to emerge relatively free of shame.
Eddie is in typical mugging kids movie mode here (and in his second role as the captain, he’s insultingly half-arsed), and he can’t even get laughs with a bit of John Cleese/Jerry Lewis-inspired silly-walking early on. The level of humour we’re working with here is your usual stupid fish-out-of-water stuff where the aliens talk in slightly stilted, William Shatner-esque fashion, and the film wants to find amusement in the aliens’ lack of understanding of social conventions and department store names etc. Dave even drinks tomato sauce (I will not call it ketchup!) right out of the bottle, ‘coz…comedy, apparently. It’s the kind of shit that if it were even remotely realistic, would result in the human characters’ suspicion immediately aroused. Instead, Elizabeth Banks is made to look like an idiot. Usually a character will stupidly assume the alien is merely from out of town or a foreigner. Here, it’s assumed that Dave acts that way because he has suffered a brain injury after Banks hits him with her car. No, he’s an alien vessel and you might even guess that if this were real life, because Dave makes Sheldon Cooper seem inconspicuous amongst normal human beings. But sadly you’re just an idiot in a movie and assume he’s brain damaged. Sigh. It’s so corny and unfunny.
After 20 minutes of this stale shit I was genuinely contemplating hurling myself out my bedroom window. Which was shut and locked at the time. At times, the film is even more insipid and childish, with a character named Lt. Buttocks, and even a ‘silent but not deadly’ joke. The scene where Dave literally poops out money is without question the worst and most embarrassing thing he’s ever done. Yes, even more embarrassing than ‘Party All the Time’, “The Golden Child” and the infamous transsexual hooker. For fuck’s sake, Eddie. What happened to you, man?
Never known to be humble (remember the opening credits of “Harlem Nights” that seemed to credit Murphy about ten times?), Murphy proves so egotistical here that in playing both Dave and the Captain inside of him, it leaves his crew members played by Gabrielle Union, Ed Helms, Kevin Hart, and several others, with practically nothing to do. It’s not just Eddie or the filmmakers at fault here, though, as Ed Helms and the super-fine Gabrielle Union (one of the most beautiful women to have ever walked the Earth) give the same kinda ‘phony “Star Trek”-style show’ performances as well, which is really insulting and lame. Kevin Hart tries really, really hard, but he’s not on screen much and the material sucks. He’s also the only one of the characters inside Dave who doesn’t talk like a cliché, it’s pretty much Kevin Hart as normal, minus the profanity.
I said earlier that it’s not really a rip-off of “Innerspace” (or “Fantastic Voyage” if you’re old like me), it’s more of a variant I suppose. That said, it’s the safest, most useless (to anyone over 10 years-old) variant possible. It’s stale, tired, unfunny, and a waste of both time and talent. Next!