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Meet Dave (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Run Time 92 minutes.

You reap what you sow. This is a truth for poor Eddie Murphy. He has made so many unfunny movies that when he finally comes out with a good one, nobody comes. I didn’t go to the screening for this, so when a dinner engagement cancelled Saturday night, my date and I went to see Eddie’s new movie on its opening weekend in Westwood, generally a hotbed for movies. At the 7:10 p.m. showing, there were, by actual count, 15 people in the theater, including the two of us. To make our visit eminently worse, Avco Cinema’s projector malfunctioned during the screening and we were forced to view about 20 minutes with the frame misaligned, so the bottom of the picture was on the top and the top on the bottom. This also resulted in the boom microphone showing up at the top of the actors’ heads. Poor Eddie can’t catch a break.

It’s too bad because this is a funny, inventive movie. Dave (Murphy) is a life size robot/space ship, operated by the Captain (also Murphy). While Dave is life size, the Captain and his crew are only one inch tall. The crew lives in Dave’s body (their spaceship) and operates various parts of his body while the captain communicates for Dave, providing his voice. Dave has flown to earth from a far away planet to steal our salt water to save their planet, which would doom Earth. They sent a small probe to get the water, but it was misdirected into the fish bowl of Josh Morrison (Austyn Lind Myers), the teenaged son of Gina Morrison (the indescribably gorgeous Elizabeth Banks, who gives another scintillating performance). Dave needs to find the probe so it can suck all our salt water out to take to their planet.

Murphy gives a wonderful performance as the robot Dave and his captain. Watching Dave try to figure out how to mingle among earthlings without being noticed as an alien provides Murphy with some hilarious moments. Captain also has a problem with his No. 2 (Ed Helms, in a terrific performance), who doesn’t agree with the way the captain is handling the situation. Meanwhile, back in Dave’s world, Dave comes to the attention of the NYPD, Dooley (Scott Caan, who is a dead ringer for his movie star father) and Knox (Mike O’Malley). Dooley thinks Dave is an alien, so endures much scoffing disbelief from Knox.

This inventive script and story (Rob Greenberg & Bill Corbett) is ably directed by Brian Robbins, who has created a light-hearted, unique, funny film out of a premise that could have been ludicrous in less talented hands. Even though Dave’s mission will doom Earth, Robbins has us rooting for Dave and his protectors, Josh and Gina. If you like to smile and laugh, this is highly recommended.

July 12, 2008