If you visit "Little America," a moon colony in the year 2087, you’ll surely stop by Pluto Nash’s popular nightclub. It’s nothing like Rick’s Place in Casablanca, so don’t expect Humprey Bogart to greet you. Will Eddie Murphy do? He’s the reformed criminal who’s boss of the joint in The Adventures of Pluto Nash, a sci-fi action comedy with big ambitions and a small pay-off.
Director Ron Underwood (City Slickers) had high hopes for the film. "This was the perfect opportunity to show what the future is going to be like, " he said. "I really responded to the script, to the character Pluto Nash, to the setting on the Moon. It’s a comedy, but we play things realistically so it has a more reality-based feel to the film."
Because I have trouble accepting human-looking robots, cloned wives, and holographic chauffeurs in my reality base, that part of the film didn’t work for me. But the movie’s atmosphere intrigued me. More old West than futuristic, the main set evokes an "anything goes" feeling. (Think Blade Runner meets Destry Rides Again.) Then, when scenes shifted to Moon Beach, a more advanced colony on the Moon, I felt like I was in Las Vegas – and overwhelmed again by its colorful neon lights, slot machines, and extravagant stage productions.
Reminiscent of so many old Western flicks, The Adventures of Pluto Nash relies on a simple plot. Because Nash (Murphy) refuses to sell his nightclub to a powerful man, he must go on the run to protect himself from the tyrant’s henchmen. With the help of his trusty sidekick Bruno (Randy Quaid), an older model robot, and his new girl friend (Rosario Dawson), Nash tries to discover the identity of his nemesis. Tony Francis (Jay Mohr), the singing sensation of Moon Beach, also provides assistance – and does a great Frank Sinatra imitation as well.
Because of it’s billing as a sci-fi action comedy, I can’t help being disappointed at how little I laughed during this movie. Yes, Murphy’s performance as the audacious Nash made me smile a bit, but the few times I laughed out loud were at Quaid’s quirky interpretation of an outdated robot who seems more human than all the other characters. Lame attempts at humor mount up and lie there, unappreciated, like a plate of overcooked spaghetti. Silly props -- a frozen chihuahua, a sexy slot machine, a talking car, a body-sculpting emporium – pop up to tickle the funnybone, but I couldn’t manage to giggle at even one of them.
SPOILER ALERT: Meanwhile, back at the ranch – er – saloon, Nash hires an eager new club manager and a beautiful new singer. They ride off into the moonglow and live happily ever after.
(Released by Warner Bros. and rated "PG-13" for violence, sexual humor, and language.)