It seems of late that Eddie Murphy
has been riding the easy train somewhat. Since The Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps he has taken a a one way trip into mediocre-ville. In fact that is being a little kind considering the painful exploits of Pluto Nash (or whatever that movie was called). The fact is, this man used to do stand-up. He used to be funny! What happened to the time when he could go on stage in a tight leather outfit, grab his crotch and make some reference about children (not at the same time) and their boasts of ice cream? He was funny then. In fact better than that, he was painfully funny.
What has occurred since that time has included some Hollywood highs (Beverly Hills Cop
, Trading Places, 48 hours) and some God awful lows (Vampire in Brooklyn, The Haunted Mansion
, Norbit). Nevertheless there have been some enjoyable romps throughout this time that didn't quite measure up to classics such as Trading Places, but haven't sunk to the depths like Pluto Nash. For me, I-Spy, Showtime
, Coming to America
) were all watchable.
It is only when you watch Bowfinger
and the Shrek movies and realise that the comic abilities of this man are still there. What you can only assume then is laziness. Laziness on his part? Laziness in casting? Is he just not fussy about what job he takes as long as he's headlining it?
Well there is no fear of his name appearing under the title of Meet Dave
as he plays two characters in this film (a change from the usual seventeen that has been the norm since Coming to America). In fact the marketing geniuses thought this an ideal ploy to state his name twice above the title to drive home the fact. Both of these characters are free from extensive make up which is unusual for him and yet both seem as preposterous as each other. Other good reasons for having no other acting credit on the poster are Elizabeth Banks (who? - wasn't she in Mary Poppins?) and Marc Blucas (who played an annoying character called Riley Finn in Buffy: The Vampire Slayer). Neither of these two, it seems are worthy of being named on the front poster (along with countless others).
Firstly then, we have "Dave" himself who Eddie Murphy actually does a great job of acting as an emotionless shell with no charisma, style,passion or grace. I guess (if you were feeling unkind) you could say he was ideally suited to the role (I am never that unkind). Secondly Murphy plays the Captain of the ship (called Dave) who attempts to speak with a kind of old British Army accent. It is almost as if, Murphy had spent an entire week watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and convinced himself that Jean Luc Picard's voice was easy to mimic. It isn't, and the only thing that Murphy is able to do convincingly is show the audience that his nostrils are clean of any filth (as he flairs them almost every five minutes).
So we have a man who is desperately trying to sound like a Jean Luc Picard character (authoritative and angry) in a ship full of people without emotion (whilst trying to fend off new rising "feelings" within them) and the "ship" which resembles the Enterprise, called "Dave". With the exception of the "ship's" name, this sounds suspiciously like car wreck that was Star Trek Voyager to me.
Naturally we have the obligatory annoying child who gets bullied at school and is unliked by everyone along with an over-trusting mother who seems to accept the weirdness that is Dave and even starts to fall for his charms. The fact is though, realism is not what this movie is about. This film is about comedy. Unfortunately, other than a chuckle at a scene involving a cat being kicked (which I saw in the trailer
) this movie didn't even make me smile. Is there someone in Hollywood who is so far up Murphy's arse that they are incapable of telling him that this movie stinks? Someone, for God's sake take Eddie Murphy aside and assure him that he needs to get out of these sort of productions. That is unless he is happy making pap for the rest of his life. My children's generation know Eddie Murphy as Donkey from Shrek and little else. In truth, that is the only Murphy movie that I have ever encourage them to watch. If this "family movie" is truly one where I can laugh along with the kids then I can only despair. I just don't see the appeal of watching 90 minutes of Murphy offering up nightmarish grins to the audience and passers by. If you want to see an alien (or the like) confused about this strange new planet we live on and the natural comedy that it inspires, take a look at E.T., Gremlins, Short Circuit or the soon-to-be-released Wall-E.
It is a shame to say this, but Eddie Murphy cannot seem to do child-friendly humour. Why is he still trying to? Whenever he attempts a more adult-inspired humour he has a bit more success. On stage, Murphy can adapt to his audience's reactions. In the movies, he cannot adapt so readily. So I offer you up some advice Mr Murphy: Take a few years off and learn how people see your movies. Ask some honest people for a change. Be bold, go out and ask strangers if they laughed or not. In fact, if you are concerned about talking to us mere mortals about your movies, I suggest you go into the cinema where one of your movies is playing and listen to the audience's reactions. If they don't laugh, IT IS NOT FUNNY!
Instead of this film that insults the intelligence of our children, I would have rather seen a sequel to Pluto Nash. At least then, I wouldn't have bothered to go and see it. I could have saved time and clipped my toenails instead. Better than that, I would have had time to write a suicide note, pin it to my chest and take a flying leap at something sharp. Lucky for you lot I wouldn't do such a thing and am here to give (and take) criticism instead.
Rating: 0.5 out of 5
(Watch it if at 40 years of age toilet gags still amuse you. In fact, don't go and watch it and hire out Trading Places, Coming to America and the original Beverly Hills Cop instead).
Comments as always, are welcome. Somewhere out there, is a person who enjoyed this movie! I would love for them to tell me why. Please tell my why I cannot see why it is "smart and funny from time to time" as stated by Joe Morgenstern from the Wall Street Journal. It makes me think we watched two different movies.