Starring: Eddie Murphy, Elizabeth Banks, Gabrielle Union
Directed by: Brian Robbins (“Norbit”)
Written by: Rob Greenberg (debut) and Bill Corbett (debut)
It’s only been two years since we saw Eddie Murphy sitting at the Kodak Theater hoping to garner an Oscar for his role in the overrated “Dreamgirls,” but with the two films since that disappointing evening (Alan Arkin won the award), there isn’t a father place we can imagine him today.
After torturing us with his multi-character performances in “Norbit,” Murphy plays double duty in the science fiction comedy “Meet Dave.” In the film Murphy plays the tiny captain of an alien spacecraft built in his likeness. Therefore, Murphy also plays “Dave,” a human-sized android, who is controlled by the tiny men and women working inside his robotic body.
If that’s not odd enough, the crew’s sole mission is to locate a pebbly orb that has the power to drain any body of water it comes into contact with. This, of course, could spell disaster for the Earth’s surface.
The film takes a shortcut (who wants to watch Murphy smiling like “Bowfinger” again anyway?) as the crew quickly finds the orb using a tracking device. The search is made even easier when Dave is coincidentally hit by a truck driven by Gina Morrison (Elizabeth Banks), the mother of the kid (Austyn Meyers) who finds the mini-meteor.
As Gina and her son befriend Dave and entertain themselves with his bizarre behavior (he eats ketchup from the bottle and can throw a frightfully fast pitch), there is plenty more going on inside the spaceship. Gabrielle Union (“Deliver Us From Eva”) plays No. 3, the ship’s Cultural Officer in charge of surfing the internet so Dave can communicate with the human race. For example, when Gina invites Dave to a meatloaf dinner, Dave doesn’t know what meatloaf actually is until No. 3 Googles the word (a video of rock singer Meat Loaf pops up, unfortunately, leaving the “Star Trek”-like crew confused).
It’s here where debut screenwriters Rob Greenberg and Bill Corbett start begging for laughs. These culture clashes are so obvious and poorly written, it’s no wonder Dave sticks out like a sore thumb. Along with Dave struggling to fit in amongst the humans, there are changes happening on the ship as the crew begins to discover what interesting thing earth has to offer like alcohol, sex, and show tunes.
Hardwired like 1987’s “Walk Like a Man,” which starred Howie Mandel as a human raised by wolves, “Meet Dave” has all the awkward societal blunders one would make trying to return to public life. Here, Murphy spreads it on thick. It becomes a problem when the script turns out to be so lanky.