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Vol. LXII, No. 29
 
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
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Cinema

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


DO YOU REALLY THINK THIS WOULD LOOK GOOD ON ME?: The non-human spaceship Dave (Eddie Murphy) is being asked his opinion about how the top half of a bikini would look on his unidentified companion who has her back to the camera.

Meet Dave: Eddie Murphy Misfires as Brother From Another Planet

Kam Williams

In 1984, John Sayles directed The Brother From Another Planet, a science fiction comedy about an alien who washes ashore at Ellis Island and makes his way to Manhattan, where he does his best to disappear in order escape from a couple of bounty hunters who have followed him to Earth. Aside from being hilarious, what made that screen classic worthwhile was its touching on a timely theme in a meaningful manner.

The film’s protagonist was an escaped slave who looked exactly like a black man. However, he had been persecuted on his home planet because he was born with only three toes on each foot.

Ironically, his effort to survive in New York City was complicated by American racism. Sayles aimed to make a statement about bigotry of any form by showing how silly it would be to categorize people because of the number of their toes or any other arbitrary physical characteristics.

Now, almost 25 years later Meet Dave, is a science fiction adventure that borrows the basic premise of Brother From Another Planet but ignores the movie’s more cerebral aspects. The dumbing down is no surprise since it stars Eddie Murphy being directed by Brian Robbins again, the same pair that worked together in the brainless film Norbit.

The story starts with a spacecraft that is the shape and size of a human being (and is played by Eddie Murphy), that crashes next to the Statue of Liberty. The crash site reinforces the idea that America is a melting pot and a land of opportunity.

The rocket has a crew of 100 tiny aliens under the command of their captain who is also played by Mr. Murphy. He guides the vehicle to Manhattan, where the movie turns into the kind of fish-out-of-water comedy we’ve seen many times before in films such as Crocodile Dundee, Mr. Deeds, Elf, and Enchanted. This oft repeated scenario revolves around a naïve newcomer who undergoes a series of ordeals in the city.

Things become more interesting when Dave is hit by a car driven by Gina (Elizabeth Banks), a widowed mother with a heart of gold. When she brings the odd fellow home to recuperate, her precocious young son, Josh (Austyn Myers), immediately picks up on the fact that their guest is different.

For example, Dave defecates dollar bills and sharpens pencils by sticking them up his nose. Also, he interprets things literally, such as when he shoved everything to the floor when he was asked to clear the table. In spite of these eccentricities, Gina develops a crush on Dave, not realizing that he is a spaceship and not a human being.

Forget the love story, this is a movie to be savored for its asinine slapstick. In addition to stealing from Brother from Another Planet, Meet Dave shamelessly steals bits made famous by a few other films, such as Chris Rock’s unsuccessful hail of a taxi from the film Down to Earth.

All in all, this unoriginal, derivative disaster is the worst sci-fi comedy since, well, since Eddie Murphy made The Adventures of Pluto Nash.

Poor (0 stars). Rated PG for action, suggestive humor, and mild epithets. Running time: 90 minutes. Studio: 20th Century Fox.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

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