Meet Dave
dir Brian Robbins
scr Rob Greenberg, Bill Corbett
with Eddie Murphy, Elizabeth Banks, Gabrielle Union, Scott Caan, Marc Blucas, Austyn Lind Myers, Ed Helms, Pat Kilbane, Kevin Hart, Mike O'Malley, Judah Friedlander, Jim Turner
release US 11.Jul.08, UK 8.Jul.08
08/US Fox 1h30
Meet Dave
Tiny adventures: Murphy and Union

banks caan blucas
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Meet Dave With a lazy script that uses the cheapest gags and most obvious plot points, this is yet another big Hollywood movie that squanders a strong premise on a badly undercooked vanity project.

Faced with imminent doom, the two-inch-tall residents of planet Nil send a man-shaped spaceship (Murphy) to earth with the intention of killing off the barbaric humans so they can use earth's resources. The crew names the ship Dave and tries to assimilate into New York, meeting a single mother (Banks) whose son (Myers) has found the orb they sent on an advance mission. But earth customs start infiltrating the ship's crew (Union, Helms, Kilbane, Hart, etc), and soon both romance and mutiny are in the air. And the mission is in jeopardy.

It's a clever idea that could have become a hilarious adventure comedy with social-satire overtones, but the filmmakers don't even try. It's like they just hope that Murphy can spin comedy out of thin air. And in some ways he can, giving the Dave a witty, creepy human-wannabe physicality. Then in his parallel role as the ship's captain he adopts an inexplicable British accent, apparently a misguided attempt to make the character look repressed.

Banks and Myers, meanwhile have thankless, blank-faced roles, while the ship's crew members are all shallow (sometimes offensive) stereotypes. Union gets the best part as the captain's love interest, but poor Helms (as the panicky warmonger), Kilbane (discovering his inner gay clich’) and Hart (discovering his inner homeboy) can't do much with their thinly defined characters. And the full-sized humans (Blucas' sexy neighbour, Caan and O'Malley's nosey cops) are even worse.

The film is so badly written that it takes the breath away. Jokes centre on bodily fluids or harsh slapstick. To the aliens, earth is America, with the most obvious cultural references imaginable (It's a Wonderful Life, again?). There's even an awful "I am Spartacus" moment. By failing to invest anything into the script, the filmmakers leave their slick production values floundering. And they oddly limit the best effects work to one small sequence (in which the tiny Murphy and Union try to cross Broadway), while instead concentrating on corny big-action chaos.

cert pg themes, vulgarity, some violence 6.Jul.08

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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall