It's interesting to me that on the same weekend two of Hollywood's go to actors for family films are both releasing new films.
First, there's Brendan Fraser and his 3-D version of "Journey to the Center of the Earth." While the film is definitely flawed, "Journey" is an exciting and entertaining cinematic experience for those who catch it in 3-D.
Then, there's Eddie Murphy's "Meet Dave."
Truthfully, "Meet Dave" is better than I expected. It ALMOST works. ALMOST being the key word.
Why Murphy chooses to collaborate again with Brian Robbins ("Norbit"), the director who likely cost him the Oscar when "Norbit" was released at the same time Oscar voters were considering his commendable performance in "Dreamgirls," is inexplicable.
Did he have this unshakeable desire to duplicate the overwhelming failure of "Norbit?"
In the film, a spaceship (played by Murphy) lands on Earth in human form controlled by human-looking aliens. Of course, the ship lands in New York City and visions of "Evil Alien Conquerors" fills the air.
Fortunately, "Meet Dave" is far superior to that disastrous Chris Parnell vehicle.
As has become Murphy's trend, he plays a couple roles here...a pint-sized captain and the aforementioned spaceship.
The trailer for "Meet Dave" looked disastrous, and the only question became "Why the heck would they release this film on the same weekend as two other promising films?"
Is this supposed to be a throw-away film?
Maddeningly enough, it's not a throwaway. There are moments in "Meet Dave" that are surprisingly touching and, even more surprisingly, Murphy actually rises above the material here and appears to be giving it a decent effort.
Murphy's pint-sized crew is comprised of Judah Friedlander ("30 Rock"), Ed Helms ("The Office") and Gabrielle Union ("Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls"). Unfortunately, while these three are all typically dependable, they prove here that they aren't strong enough to rise above weak material.
This, my friends, is weak material.
Reportedly scripted by multiple writers, Bill Corbett ("Mystery Science Theatre 3000") and Rob Greenberg ("Frasier") get stuck with the credit.
While there far too brief moments of emotional resonance, too much of "Meet Dave" plays off like Soderbergh's awkward experiment, "Bubble" wrapped inside a dismal production design that should provide hope to any low-budget film directors.
Better than expected, "Meet Dave" is still a disappointment from an actor who has recently shown the world he's capable of mighty fine acting.
I've met Dave so you don't have to.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic