While Eddie Murphy appeared to be engineering a terrific career turnaround with his Oscar-nominated performance in "Dreamgirls", Murphy followed that film up with the impressively unfunny "Norbit", directed by Brian Robbins. Rather than trying to shift gears after the poorly reviewed "Norbit", Murphy once again went with another film directed by Robbins, "Meet Dave".
The film stars Murphy as Dave, the captain of an alien ship that comes to Earth in the form of a ship that looks an awful lot like Eddie Murphy. The captain and the other tiny aliens are at the helm of Dave, and control his voice and movements. The captain is assisted by Number Two (Ed Helms), Number Three (Gabrielle Union) and an assortment of other crew.
The aliens are there in order to try and capture a device that was sent to Earth to drain the planet's water supply in order to save their home planet. While the ship's mission is initially on-track, the crew finds that it isn't as easy to blend in as they thought it would be. However, they (as Dave) get help in the form of a single mother, Gina (Elizabeth Banks), and her son, Josh (Austin Lynd Myers).
While the crew is aware of the destructive effects that their plans would have on Earth, some members of the crew start to change their mind and wonder whether saving their own world is worth destroying the one they're currently on when they watch some of the nicer aspects of Earth. There's also something of a minor sideplot about a cop (Scott Caan) who believes that Dave is an alien. While there's a few minor hints of romance between the Murphy and Banks characters, it's so slight as to be barely worth mentioning - the same can be said about the hints of romance between the Murphy and Union characters.
Given the lack of plot beyond the Dave character trying to find the object, there's not much else to the story beyond a lot of "fish out of water" sequences and a few references to things like Google and Old Navy. As for the performances, Banks is decent and, while Murphy certainly tries to manage some physical comedy (doing an awfully respectable job of playing a human whose parts are controlled by a series of tiny aliens) , but it's in service of an awfully weak screenplay. The script is credited to Bill Corbett ("Mystery Science Theater 3000") and Rob Greenberg ("How I Met Your Mother"), and it's surprising that, given the resumes of both, they couldn't come up with something funnier than this. It's too bad, as the idea has at least some potential.
What's also disappointing is the fact that effects and production design are iffy; the interiors of Dave where the aliens operate look bland, for example. I'd love to see what a production designer like Alex McDowell or Bo Welch could have done here. Still, it all comes down to the script, which doesn't give the characters much of interest to do and doesn't bring the funny nearly as often as it should.
VIDEO: "Meet Dave" is presented by 20th Century Fox in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The screening copy of the film that was provided offered average image quality, with inconsistent sharpness/detail and some mild instances of pixelation and shimmer. However, this is still not the final copy and unfortunately, I cannot make any final comments on it, as the retail copy may offer differing image quality.
SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The majority of the presentation was a simple, straightforward "comedy mix". However, some of the scenes inside Dave's control room did use the surrounds to decent effect to deliver some of the sounds of the outside world as heard on the control deck. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and effects.
EXTRAS: Interviews with the cast members done in-character, which turns out to be a 7-minute trip through a laugh-free zone. We also get trailers for other titles from the studio.
Final Thoughts: While Murphy gives a decent effort, it all comes down to the script, which doesn't give the characters much of interest to do and very rarely gets any laughs.
The Film C-