July 13, 2008

Movie Review: Meet Dave

Are you looking for social commentary on the strength of the human spirit? Do you need research on the worthiness of the human condition? Perhaps you just want to laugh at something that makes no sense. If you are looking for anything like that, you are going to want to go elsewhere. Seriously, if you've seen the trailer, you likely have a good idea of the comedy level of this movie, and it is not all that high. I like Eddie Murphy, the guy can be uproariously funny and he also has some acting skills (demonstrated by his performance in Dreamgirls), unfortunately his past pair of features leave something to be desired. Well, let's be honest, they leave a lot to be desired. On the flip side, with Meet Dave does take a step in the write direction following the gigantic misstep that was Norbit.

The basic premise of Meet Dave is pretty easy. A small device was sent to Earth to steal the salt from the oceans to provide power for an alien world. However, the device is knocked off course and ends up in the possession of a young boy. This cannot be allowed to last, so hot on its heels is a spaceship that looks like Eddie Murphy and it is manned by a race of little itty bitty people led by, you guessed it, Eddie Murphy, but he is only known as Captain. It is up to this crew inside Eddie Murphy to find the device and put it to work to save their people.

Anything beyond that is just icing on the cake, or nonsensical padding. You make the call.

As the by-the-book crew goes about their mission they have a chance encounter with the widowed mother (Elizabeth Banks) of the boy with the device. Follow me? The problems become a bit more complicated when they discover the device has fallen into someone else's hands and the crew is beginning to feel strange effects the longer they stay on this strange planet.

Over the course of the movie you have to know that everything is going to work out and don't tell me you actually believed a light hearted comedy like this would actually build to a downer of an ending. I would not be averse to someone being brave enough to try it, but don't expect it from a film targeting the mainstream audience.

Anyway, this movie makes no sense. It is easy to understand the plot, but as for any reasoning or explanation, forget it. We never learn much about the little people, or if they have any type of back up plan. When the humans find out about aliens their reaction is remarkably low key. The actual mechanics of how anything works is not even hinted at. Let's not even get to the climax, where logic goes right out the window (well, it actually left a lot sooner, but who's paying attention?).

Actually trying to have any sort of discussion about the finer points of the story would like devolve into anger over having to sit through this while trying to piece together the faulty logic at work here. Let's not forget the really rather poor quality of special effects.

Okay, with that out of my system, believe it or not, this is not a total waste of film. Granted, it is not worthy of seeing on the big screen but perhaps, just perhaps, be worth renting in a couple of months.

What is good about this? There are a couple of things, all related to performances or bits of performances. Let's work our way up. Ed Helms (Andy from The Office) has some very funny bits as Number 2, on the same level Pat Kilbane has an amusing transformation as Number 4. Moving up the list we have Elizabeth Banks whose performance is sweet and innocent and she lights up many scenes during the film.

Finally, Eddie Murphy is worth watching, but only the robot version, not the little guy. His facial expressions and body movements all hint at the unpredictability of his earlier work. I am telling the truth when I tell you that some of the things he does are downright hilarious. So, if you watch him in something of a bubble, you just may be able to make it through.

Bottomline. This is not a good movie, the script is poor, the concept was not thought out beforehand, and the execution is a mess. You could probably tell all that from the seriously unfunny trailer (except for the cat encounter, I find that moment hysterical). In any case, this one would be best left to die a quick death on the big screen.

Not Recommended.


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