Eddie Murphy seems to just choose roles these days that would either appeal to his children, or prove to be convenient. That’s where “Meet Dave” comes in, a film that applies to both instances. It’s an easy paycheck, with most of the film based around Murphy standing in one room. While he may be under the delusion that children will love what he has to offer: a movie about little aliens in a big robot, which is, as the marketing campaign has so nauseatingly stressed, “Eddie Murphy in Eddie Murphy,” they may not be as enamored as he thinks. Try as he might, this isn’t going to be considered the next “Being John Malkovich” any time soon.
In actuality, “Meet Dave” is all just a big science fiction remake of “Coming to America” where an alien has to adjust to a foreign land, garners an African accent and falls in love with a woman from the country of origin (Elizabeth Banks slumming and collecting that check, too). Which is almost heartbreaking considering it’s written by Bill Corbett of “Mystery Science Theater” fame. The miniature crew of Dave has landed on Earth to retrieve a mysterious globe, and as luck would have it, the accidental owner of the globe crosses paths with them after a car accident, allowing the crew of Dave to integrate into society in hopes of reclaiming the device. And wouldn’t you know it? Dave is enjoying Earth.
The audience however, never really enjoys “Meet Dave.” At least I didn’t. The remainder of the film is reliant on gags from the small crew who observe hugging as brutality, and a workman in the butt named Lieutenant Buttocks who describes a gas leak in “Dave” that’s silent but deadly. Are you laughing yet?
On the outside, Dave becomes a comedy prop displaying the unusual behavior we’ve probably already seen in “Mork and Mindy.” He doesn’t know how to drink a cup of water. He eats a lot of hot dogs thanks to his crew’s ability to intake food at a massive rate (with Buttocks left with the task of digesting them), and he pulls off one of the worst Bee Gee’s impressions of all time. He even manages to be mistaken as a substitute teacher and is allowed into a public school without any identification, credentials, or second glances from the faculty. Science Fiction or not, that’s a leap of logic not many viewers will want to make.
All the while I could never figure out why miniature space men that look, act, talk and conduct their activity like human beings would be so awe-inspired by simple tasks like shaking hands and embracing. Murphy’s follow up to “Norbit” is fairly inoffensive and reliant on gags that are mostly broad and bland, but Murphy can never seem to break out of the doldrums of this “fish out of water” shtick. “Meet Dave” isn’t an awful film because it’s Eddie Murphy, it’s awful because most of the “comedy” presented is flat, lacking in any hint of timing, and is dated by about thirty years.
I refuse to lament the Eddie Murphy from “Delirious” or “Raw” anymore. That Eddie Murphy is dead and buried.