Reel Shorts | Meet Dave

11 07 2008

Once upon a time, Eddie Murphy was one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood. After a recent string of cinematic stink-bombs, his days as a credible comic actor may have come to an end.

In his latest film, “Meet Dave,” Murphy plays yet another dual role as captain of an alien spaceship . . . and the spaceship, himself. After crash landing on Liberty Island, Captain Dave and his crew have to locate a missing orb that will provide Earth’s water and salt supply to their beleaguered planet. With a limited power supply and no clue where to begin, the crew has their work cut out for them.

If the film would have remained faithful to the concept, there was an outside chance that this story could have worked. But like the best laid plans of mice and men, Director Brian Robbins and Murphy clearly had other ideas. Only someone with his comic genius could conjure up the imagination and skill to show an alien spaceship/person taking his first steps in human form. Indeed there is much comedy in Murphy’s physical comedy, but instead of further exploring his comedic skill, the filmmakers choose to focus on stereotypical, silly goofy humor.

In no time, Spaceship Dave is run over by an unsuspecting single mother, Gina Morrison (Elizabeth Banks). With only television shows and movies as cultural references for human behavior, Dave must instantly adapt to every person and situation literally on the fly. Once locating the location of the missing orb, Dave also helps out Gina’s son, who is the target of school bully. He instantly senses that there is something strange about his new friend.

Suddenly the mission becomes secondary as he and his crew begin to experience the affects of being . . . human. While Gina is falling for Spaceship Dave, his crewmember Number Three (Gabrielle Union) secretly has the hots for him. The two connect watching “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but the stiff ship captain still can’t get the hint.

Much like his “Saturday Night Live” alums, Murphy’s Dave is an interesting concept that is good for about 30 minutes. The problem is that there are still 60 more minutes left to fill. His spaceship is an all-purpose machine that does everything from sharpening pencils to serving as an ATM. Just don’t ask me where the money comes from!

It is not an accident or coincidence that four, “Semi-Pro,” “Don’t Mess With the Zohan,” “The Love Guru” and “Meet Dave” of the worst films of the year have come from former SNL cast members. Often living in their characters for an extended amount of time, neither Michael Myers, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell or Murphy can figure out that an idea that may be a good show bit just might not make a strong film idea.

Recently, Murphy has been telling anyone who has been listening that he wants to step away from acting in a couple of years to return to the stage. Judging by the quality of his recent film work, that time can’t get here fast enough.

For seven years in the 1980s, there wasn’t another star bigger than the 47-year old comedian. Since 1997’s “Metro,” the 12-time Golden Reel winner ($100 million grossing film) has had nine movies that have failed to clear that prestigious bar. In fact five of those film didn’t even gross $50 million! It is as if Murphy has become so insular that his idea of what funny is completely out of touch with this generation.

As a huge Murphy fan, it pains me to watch the decline of one of this generation’s most influential comedic actors. His ascension paved the way for the new Black box-office champ, Will Smith who may king of the mountain when it’s all said and done. Much like “Norbit,” “Meet Dave” is a good idea in search of better execution.

As much as it pains me to say, unfortunately Murphy’s Law is simply not what it used to be.

Grade: D+




One response

13 07 2008
Black Film Classic - Beverly Hills Cop (1984) « FilmGordon

[…] Starship Blooper | Meet Dave […]

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