Meet Dave

Movie Information

The Story: A group of very tiny aliens travel to Earth in a human-shaped spaceship in an effort to save their own planet from an impending energy crisis. The Lowdown: An attempt at a high-concept, special-effects comedy extravaganza that goes absolutely nowhere due to its own pointless, unfunny lameness. It is an Eddie Murphy movie after all.
Score:

Genre: Sci-Fi Comedy
Director: Brian Robbins (Norbit)
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Gabrielle Union, Elizabeth Banks, Scott Caan, Ed Helms
Rated: PG

Costing a reported $100 million to make and only raking in an estimated $5.3 million its opening weekend, it appears that Meet Dave is the front-runner for the year’s biggest disaster—and that’s really saying something after The Love Guru, which hit screens only a few weeks ago and also flopped at the box office. With The Dark Knight opening later this week, a film that will certainly draw big crowds, don’t expect things to improve in the land of Eddie Murphy.

Not that any of this is surprising. Even with the modest—yet regrettable—success of last year’s Norbit (the last product of team Murphy and director Brian Robbins), it shouldn’t come as a shock that Meet Dave has gone the way of the RMS Lusitania and tanked in such a spectacular fashion. Unfortunately, this most likely doesn’t mean the end of Eddie Murphy movies; it just means more movies with Eddie Murphy in a fat suit.

The studio must have known they had a dung pile on their hands, since they changed the film’s original title, Starship Dave, to the much more innocuous Meet Dave. How making the title of your movie more unexciting is supposed to sell tickets is beyond me. Though I do have a theory the powers that be were hoping no one would notice this movie even existed, thus saving everyone involved the embarrassment. Personally, I would’ve gone with Midnight Meet Dave, but then again, there are reasons I don’t run a movie studio. But really, it’s not the title of the movie that’s the trouble, as we do, in fact, meet Dave within the first 10 minutes of the movie. It’s getting rid of him that’s the problem.

The titular Dave (Eddie Murphy) is a human-shaped spaceship piloted by very tiny aliens (and captained by a miniature Murphy). The aliens have been sent to Earth to fend off their own planet’s impending energy shortage by draining Earth’s oceans for salt. Why an advanced civilization that can travel light years across the universe can’t find an alternative energy source other than salt is never explained (nor how that would even work), but then again, this isn’t really a movie where thinking is required. Unfortunately for the aliens, the baseball-sized, meteor-shaped device that drains the Earth’s oceans (which looks like the “head juicer” from Phantasm (1979)—too bad it isn’t, given the cast) gets knocked off course, and it’s up to the crew of Dave to track it down. The idea is that humans are primitive and stupid and that destroying Earth would be no great loss. That is, of course, until the ship’s crew begins learning about human emotions in the most simplistic fashion imaginable: They learn about love by watching It’s a Wonderful Life, and as a result of hearing a show tune, one alien realizes he’s gay.

That’s the setup. There’s little to the film beyond that, other than some fish-out-of-water gags involving the robotic Dave acclimating himself to his new culture. None of these are particularly clever and are, more often than not, downright confusing—perhaps partly due to the distraction of the film’s truly dreadful CGI. But seriously, I’ll give a dollar to anyone who can explain to me why a spaceship comes equipped with a pencil sharpener in its nose.

Usually, this is the point in the review where I would say the only redeeming quality of Meet Dave is the inclusion of Gabrielle Union as the ship’s cultural officer. And while her affable screen persona is the best thing about the movie, I’m not going down that path. After being so misused in so many lackluster movies—from Deliver Us from Eva (2003) to last year’s Daddy’s Little Girls and The Perfect Holiday—it’s hard to feel bad for her anymore. In fact, much like sitting through Meet Dave, it’s just a bit depressing. Rated PG for bawdy and suggestive humor, action and some language.

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17 thoughts on “Meet Dave

  1. Sunday

    You mean Ken didn’t do this film?? Where do I send the flowers and condolences, Justin? You deserve a certificate of achievement or at least a free frozen ham from Ingles or something for having to watch this film. My deepest sympathies.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Not only did Ken not do this film, but Justin — having a bid for martyrdom — would not let Ken watch it with him. I’m far more generous. I’ve invited Justin to sit through Mamma Mia! with me.

  3. Sunday

    That was a good gesture on your part, sir. That and some Listerine (original formula) to get the bad taste from his mouth.

  4. Justin Souther

    I think you guys are onto something. For every ticket sold to Meet Dave, a frozen ham (though a turkey may be more apt).

    He’s going to be reviewing TROLL 2 for next week’s TV Eye’s Weird Wednesday.

    I’ve already warned him, though I figure I’ll end up watching it, too.

    I also told him I’d be sending his wife flowers, since her interest in Space Chimps is the reason I won’t be watching it.

  5. Ken Hanke

    If I say I saw this, could I get a frozen ham?

    I think you have to be kinda forced to watch it –unless Justin’s plan for the studio to give away a ham (or turkey) with every ticket could change that.

    I’ve already warned him, though I figure I’ll end up watching it, too.

    Unless you can figure out when we can watch it together, you’re probably safe.

  6. Ken Hanke

    It is weird that I want to see Mamma Mia? Or is that just a chick thing??

    I don’t know. I was at least ambivalent about it — a basic lack of fondness for ABBA to one side — until I saw the trailer. I am hoping the trailer doesn’t do the film justice.

  7. nick s

    I already heard the reviews from the old country about Mamma Mia!, and now my main hope is that I can find a screening that’s packed full of gay men and Europeans treating it like the Sing-A-Long-A Sound of Music in Soho. Ideally at the Cinebarre.

    Any thoughts on ABBA:The Movie, Ken? Now that’s a weird bit of cinema that’s as late-70s as it gets.

  8. Ken Hanke

    Any thoughts on ABBA:The Movie, Ken? Now that’s a weird bit of cinema that’s as late-70s as it gets.

    Somehow or other that’s a film that’s never crossed my path. After Mamma Mia!, it could be some considerable time before I have anything like a burning desire to indulge in ABBA-dom again.

  9. nick s

    Rent the DVD and consider it a salve, if not an antidote. Lasse Hallström (Cider House Rules, Chocolat) directed it: I think it counts as his first full-length English-language film.

    The various writeups will give you a sense of how it’s an atypical concert film, thanks to its odd framing narrative, but the real takeaway is the whole late-70s atmosphere, captured in the moment. If you really want to see those songs wrapped in a gauzy plot, then you might as well have them performed by the original artists.

  10. Ken Hanke

    If you really want to see those songs wrapped in a gauzy plot, then you might as well have them performed by the original artists.

    Perhaps one day.

    is it possible to give a minus (-) star to a movie?

    I have suggested it in passing, but no one’s ever taken me up on the concept. I know Ebert used to at least have a “zero stars” category. I should look into it before Disaster Movie perhaps.

  11. Sean Williams

    I have suggested it in passing, but no one’s ever taken me up on the concept.
    Weirdly enough, The Toledo Blade, which ordinarily employs a five-star system, rated Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties simply “BOMB”. To my knowledge, they have never before or since employed this rating.

    Of course, Disaster Movie may give them cause….

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