a critiQal film review Meet Dave (2008)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Trying to save their planet from destruction, a team of tiny aliens come to Earth in a spaceship that looks like a human (Murphy).

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While we spent a fun Summer At The Movies 2008, we still didn’t manage to get to every movie we wanted to see. Some, like , we really wanted to check out but couldn’t fit in to an overbooked weekend; others, like Meet Dave, we weren’t sure would stand up to well in theaters and decided to wait for the DVD.

While the preview for Meet Dave looked pretty funny, we had heard that this past summer wasn’t a good time to watch a comedy with a big name behind it – after all, both Mike Myers () and Adam Sandler () didn’t exactly light up the fans, and we figured Eddie Murphy’s turn in Meet Dave would fall into the same category – despite the funny preview.

Now that the films are hitting DVD, however, we figured we’d give the summer comedies of 2008 another shot – except for , since we already know Will Ferrell isn’t funny and don’t need to be reminded again.

Eddie Murphy takes on the dual role of a captain of a ship and the ship itself in Meet Dave, and already the film is poking a little fun at Murphy’s now legendary egomaniacal tendencies back when he was the biggest name in film. With the film already showing a bit of tongue in cheek humor, it’s up to Eddie and the cast to make the film truly enjoyable.

Eddie himself (with his dark Beverly Hills Cop III days all but forgotten by most) is full of self-depreciating humor and has really gotten back to playing with his roles, rather than just taking his paycheck. He’s not nearly as irreverent and sharp-witted as he used to be in his glory days, but he does manage to bring a slight humility to his roles that suits him these days. Gone are the days of the smooth comic wit who can’t seem to do any wrong – instead, his characters have flaws and he uses those flaws to his – and the viewer’s – advantage

That being said, the dual role is a bit too much for him. He doesn’t really have it in him at this point to take on that much of a film, and the viewer knows almost from the start that one of the characters is going to suffer a little because of it. In this case, it’s the “Captain” character. He seems to be a bit on the short end of the acting, and is never able to really capture the viewer’s attention.

Murphy doesn’t disappoint with the larger “Dave” character however, and audiences should enjoy the awkward interactions “Dave” stumbles through in almost each and every scene he’s in. Whether “Dave” is trying to smile or shake hands, it’s obvious that he hasn’t quite grasped the concept. While the hand-shaking is easy to pull off, the fake grin that seems just not quite right is a bit tougher, but Murphy manages to pull it off easily. As he should be, “Dave” is the real star of the show and Eddie has put a lot of practice into making him perfect – it’s just a shame he couldn’t have saved a little bit for his “Captain” persona.

Thankfully, the Captain has a bit of backup in his scens, thanks to the ever-underestimated Gabrielle Union. She’s slowly been sneaking her way onto the radar ever since her breakout performance in and has yet to disappoint. Why she isn’t a leading lady by now is anyone’s guess, since she always manages to light up whatever role she’s given.

Elizabeth Banks, who is starting to pop up in everything, does a good job playing “Dave”‘s companion, and is refreshingly comical in her own right. While her character isn’t as well-fleshed out, she manages to bring a charm to the character that easily could have been left out by another actress.

While the plot starts off interestingly enough (think along the lines of Innerspace meets Aliens), some of the main plot points seem largely at odds with the comedic feel the film is going for, leaving the viewer to wonder if the film is going to take a dark turn unexpectedly. That sense of impending doom seems at odds with the comedy aspects, and viewers spend most of the film wondering how it’s going to work out. By the end, most will probably be disappointed with the filppant way the concerns are brushed off, and will leave feeling vaguely unsastisfied.

While Meet Dave has more than it’s fair share of flaws, Murphy’s perfected awkwardness as “Dave” and the support of Gabrielle Union and Elizabeth Banks make those flaws seem a bit less significant.

Meet Dave is definitely not a perfect film, it easily outclasses Sandler’s by actually being worth a rental – and some laughs.

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