Movie Review: ‘Meet Dave’

July 16, 2008 Updated: October 1, 2015
 (20th Century Fox)
(20th Century Fox)

Meet Dave.

He is an extra-terrestrial space vehicle that resembles Axel Foley with a cranium hiding a crew of miniature people captained by Eddie Murphy.

Eddie Murphy, let’s remember, is a comedic talent that burnt so brightly in the 1980s only to supernova into the cheque-cashing headliner of recent times with ridiculously successful abominations like Norbit and Daddy Day Care. Do not abort mission yet, crew, because as faint praise as it is, this is Murphy’s best effort in a while and does conceal a few chuckles among the usual quota of burps and farts.

The premise is something of a cross between Inner Space and Fantastic Voyage but nowhere near as much fun, as the inhabitants of Dave must co-ordinate his mechanical appendages in order to find a mystical MacGuffin that will save their home planet from destruction.

The problem is that it has fallen into the hands of Hollywood moppet Josh (Austyn Myers), a wide eyed kid with a huge imagination, and his mother Gina (the ever-watchable Elizabeth Banks) who unintentionally teach the microscopic race that there is more to life than being a conformist.

For all of the seen-it-all-before incredible shrinking men special effects that looked better way back in 1989’s Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, there are a few justifiable reasons for watching Meet Dave. There is the odd glimpse of genuine comedy that reminds you of the Delirious genius that Murphy was, before his performance gives way to sub-standard Jim Carrey face gurning and funny walking.

And then there is Elizabeth Banks whose natural ability for comedy has had her scene stealing in Scrubs, and here her limited screen time lifts the film above the, intentional or not, robotic performances of the remainder of the cast.

There is fun to be had for the little ones who will no doubt giggle at the bodily function gags or gaze in wonder at the interior body sets, and they may even learn something from the limp cut and paste job of a finale that completely rips E.T.’s morality, soundtrack and whooshing rocket.

But there are better films with similar messages (see WALL-E) filling the multiplexes and Murphy could do without the encouragement.

Two stars