Screenwriters: Rob Greenberg, Bill Corbett
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Elizabeth Banks, Gabrielle Union, Scott Caan, Pat Kilbane, Ed Helms, Austyn Myers
Running Time: 90 mins
The last time Eddie Murphy teamed with director Brian Robbins, the duo delivered the unbelievably crass and painfully immature 2007 Golden Raspberry winner Norbit. A movie so awful that critic Mark Kermode claimed audience members would be "karmically unbalanced" if they paid to see the film. Anybody unfortunate enough to have watched that movie probably didn't think Murphy's stock could fall much further. While Meet Dave doesn't top Norbit for sheer awfulness, it helps cement the belief that Murphy's days as a comedic heavyweight are truly over.
The story follows the adventures of a man named Dave Ming Chang (Murphy), who finds himself wandering the streets of New York dressed in an ice white suit that was last worn by the Bee Gees. The supposedly cunning plot twist, to which the whole film clings for dear life, is the fact that Dave isn't actually a human, but is in fact... a robot. He's a humanoid orchestrated by a Star Trek-style ship, located inside Dave's brain, which is captained by, surprise, surprise, Eddie Murphy.
Murphy's Captain and crew have visited Earth to drain its water supply so that they can save their own planet. Predictably, the emotionally-stunted miniature aliens are eventually wowed by American culture, the big city and the goodwill of humans, so they decide to find another planet to destroy. However, several spanners are thrown into the aliens' plans, which elongate the wispy plot, pummeling the audience's senses at every predictable turn.
Firstly, there's Dooley (Caan) from the New York Police Department, an X-Files fanatic who is alerted to unusual activity around the Statue of Liberty where Dave landed. Secondly, there's the ship's Number Two (Helms), who refuses to be taken in by Earth's charms. He launches a coup on his Captain and attempts to destroy everything his fellow aliens have fallen in love with. These weakly constructed side-stories and detours were probably devised to thrill. Sadly, the only question cinema-goers will be asking themselves throughout this film is: "When will this nonsense end?"
Elsewhere, there's a romance between Dave and single mum Gina (Banks). Gina's son Josh (Myers) holds the key to the aliens destroying Earth, but while attempting to track down the school kid, the ship's Captain falls for the dippy widow. It's around this point in the movie that the writers begin confusing themselves and the audience is unsure as to whether the Captain's affections lie with Gina or the ship's Number Three (Union). The movie resolves this plot confusion by throwing in Gina's next door neighbour, who cameos for about two minutes, and handily provides a shoulder to cry on when the Captain opts for his shipmate. This slapdash approach is indicative of a film that oozes laziness out of every pore.
Murphy's recent big screen credits, with the obvious exception of the Shrek franchise, have provided some woeful attempts at humour. The likes of Daddy Day Care, The Haunted Mansion, The Nutty Professor etc, were all shameful moments for a man that was generally respected as one of America's finest standups during the '80s. During his latest outing, Murphy spends much of the film looking as disinterested and bored senseless as most of the audience will be. While it's horrible to watch a man that made the likes of Beverly Hills Cop and Coming To America slumming it, any sympathy for him is stretched to its very limit by this stinking mess of a project.
There are barrel-scraping gags about bodily functions and a couple of yawnsome slapstick scenes, but most bizarrely of all, for much of the movie there's no attempt at humour at all. By the end of the film you're left wondering whether the scriptwriters abandoned producing gags once they came up with the concept and hoped Murphy's name on the posters would rack up the box office sales by itself. Tragically for Murphy, having his name attached to a movie must surely now be considered a warning rather than an appetiser or blockbuster guarantee.