Sometimes I think Eddie Murphy has proven all he can. Meet Dave is the latest in a long line of movies that don't do justice to his talents. Eddie Murphy Raw showed his prowess with ribald stand-up comedy, while The Nutty Professor displayed his great skill at being able to inhabit multiple characters. The rest of the time, though, Murphy seems to be stuck making movies with the sole collective purpose of reminding viewers he can do much better -- and easily. Meet Dave, unfortunately, also opts to lay waste to the viewer's intelligence with a lame story and even more lame jokes.
The planet Nil is in grave danger. Its resources having been almost completely depleted, desperate measures must be taken in order to ensure the planet's survival. Luckily for them, they've found another world that just might be able to help them out: Earth, where the salt content of the oceans will provide just what Nil needs to live for generations to come. In order to carry out their mission among us humans, the miniaturized Nilians live and work in a spaceship designed after their own captain (both played by Murphy). The crew's mission puts them in direct contact with Gina (Elizabeth Banks), a woman whose son (Austin Lynd Myers) possesses a meteor the crew needs to carry out their directive. The problem? Sapping the planet of its oceans will have a catastrophic effect on earthlings, and with the captain growing more fond of our world the more time he spends on it, the less inclined he becomes to save his home at the expense of ours.
Last year's Norbit was a new low point in Murphy's career, mostly because it was a decent idea for a movie gone horribly wrong. Meet Dave, on the other hand, is a bad idea that pretty much remains as such. There's simply no comedic incentive to be found here and no real test of Murphy's abilities. The the film merely shows him being stuck in a fish-out-of-water story and cracking jokes about Old Navy as well as commenting on how goofy "Google" sounds. It's a routine that gets old fast, especially when you start to notice the film depends on the Nilians' ignorance of Earth culture at its own convenience. For instance, the crew has no concept of a household cat, yet they know about hailing cabs right off the bat. Also, the writers felt the need to throw on about a dozen subplots, from a cop (Scott Caan) in pursuit of the aliens to a neighbor (Marc Blucas) with the hots for Gina. All this makes Meet Dave appear cluttered and stupid.
At least the actors try to have fun with the material, even though they look as miserable as I felt watching them. Murphy presses onward and tries to survive the whole ordeal, but the other cast members aren't as adept at hiding their dismay at being roped into this movie. Banks provides her signature sparkling looks but forgets to enhance the part with personality. Among the alien crew members, the gorgeous Gabrielle Union looks like her teeth are being pulled out one by one, while Ed Helms serves up a painfully bad performance as the captain's warmongering second-in-command. All these unenthusiastec players have been brought together under the supervision of Norbit helmer Brian Robbins, whose knack for lazy directing and clunky plotting goes on full display here.
Last summer, Evan Almighty proved that one of the biggest budgets in the world couldn't save a movie whose sense of humor went on vacation. The same goes for Meet Dave, which is about as funny as a train wreck.
MY RATING: * (out of ****)
(Released by 20th Century Fox and rated "PG" for some bawdy and suggestive humor, action and language.)