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Meet Dave Another Less-Than-Stellar Eddie Murphy Outing

Meet Dave
Directed by Brian Robbins
Written by Rob Greenberg and Bill Corbett
Fox, 2008

Meet Dave was pretty much DOA when it was given a July 11 release date and was basically dumped just like a January or September movie on what amounts to an unsuspecting public. Of course, that doesn’t mean the movie was destined to be bad; it was merely destined not to make much money. Fox is probably going to take a beating this summer, with The Happening doing merely OK, this a likely flop, and then The X-Files sequel likely to tank in two weeks.

Eddie Murphy seems to always pick projects that are distinct, but over the years many of his choices haven’t had the creative and/or marketing teams to make it a success. Most of these are just dreadful. This isn’t the eighties anymore where people come to see that young, raw Murphy that piloted Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop, or 48 HRS. The new generation of Murphy fans likely don’t even notice him for The Nutty Professor, which came out 12 years ago; it’s more Dr. Dolittle or Daddy Day Care or as the voice of Donkey in the Shrek films. It’s a reinvention that has suited him nicely. Even the widely-panned Norbit nearly hit $100 million, and his performance in Dreamgirls helped drive that film to success. I group Meet Dave with that curious collection of what-was-he-thinking? flops like Pluto Nash or Holy Man.

Murphy plays Dave, a giant robot that the smaller version of himself captains. He and his crew, which includes the in-love No. 3 (Gabrielle Union) and the soon-to-be-main-villain, No. 2 (Ed Helms), are looking for a rock that fell to Earth that was originally sent out to suck the planet’s oceans dry and provide sustenance for their people. The rock was found by young Josh (Austyn Myers), who truly believes it came from outer space. And Josh has one of the hottest moms you can possibly have: Gina, played by Elizabeth Banks, who is in almost everything released nowadays. Count me as one who doesn’t mind.

The robot Dave, piloted by a race that hasn’t gotten in touch with their feelings (which I kind of find hard to believe) has a bit of a hard time relating to the humans, but quickly learns. And the Earth’s people are having an effect on the crew, who are tapping into those feelings for the first time, which is what sparks No. 2 to be such an evil bastard. After awhile, Dave grows fond of Josh and doesn’t want to take the rock for its original purpose anymore.

Meet Dave has OK laughs here and there, mostly from Murphy still getting by with his wide grin. But overall this just doesn’t have any sustained hilarity or situations. Some very tired jokes: Dave walking into the closet thinking its the front door, Dave unable to get a cab (wink, wink) because he’s an alien. I thought this showed some promise early on, before Dave has befriended Gina and Josh, when Gina hits Dave with her car. Gina tells a gathering crowd, “I was just trying to get that parking space,” and someone in the crowd remarks, “It looked to me like you sped up.” I thought there might be something a little more top-shelf in store.

Meet Dave also joins Cloverfield (a movie I really liked) in the “get through Manhattan in record time” books. He starts at the Statue of Liberty, and with a snap he’s in Times Square, then Central Park, back to Times Square with no effort. Those locations are pretty hard to blow through without a car, but the clunky Dave can walk it in no time. I realize that we’re supposed to understand a “passage of time” has occurred, but that’s not the way the movie presents it (in the case of Cloverfield, which was a “real-time” experience, the supposed travel time was a joke). Eh, whatever. It’s not that type of thing that’s going to make or break this comedy. All it needed to be was funny, and it barely registers.

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