Wow, Eddie Murphy's career is really in the stinkhole, isn't it? What is the last good movie this guy has made? Skipping his Oscar-nominated performance in 'Dreamgirls' (which, sadly, appears to be a career cul-de-sac rather than the beginning of a comeback), it's been about ten or fifteen years' worth of almost complete and utter dross. I'll give Murphy 'Bowfinger,' and that's it. It's utterly unfathomable how the brash, uncompromising star of '48 Hrs.,' 'Trading Places' and 'Beverly Hills Cop' could have agreed to appear in such horrendous cinematic travesties as 'The Adventures of Pluto Nash,' 'Daddy Day Care,' 'Dr. Doolittle' and 'Norbit.' Now we can add 'Meet Dave' to that esteemed list, as it's another misbegotten "high concept" comedy from Camp Murphy that's painfully unfunny and dismally executed.
The story is -- god help us -- a mishmash of 'The Brother from Another Planet,' 'Innerspace,' 'Honey I Shrunk the Kids' and 'Starman.' The plot is so wacky it's almost unbelievable it got greenlit. Murphy stars as the head of a crew of tiny, human-looking aliens on a mission to save their home planet. They arrive on Earth in the perfect disguise: a spaceship named Dave -- i.e., the actual body of an ordinary man that looks exactly like their captain. Complications ensue, however, when Dave encounters a beautiful mother (Elizabeth Banks, acting like a Stepford wife) and her annoying, frizzy-haired kid. Wouldn't ya know, Dave starts to like this crazy planet called Earth and our weird customs, and an internal battle begins to wag between the aliens in command of their "ship," and Dave himself.
Like so many of Murphy's comedies of late, 'Meet Dave' plays to none of his strengths as a comic or an actor. This is a sappy and derivative family comedy that has no edge and no insight into much of anything. It's the polar opposite of something inspired like 'Bowfinger,' which was actually pointed in its satire and allowed Murphy to mine comedic gifts that have otherwise remained untapped for years. It's painful in 'Meet Dave' to once again watch Murphy mugging through dumb TV sitcom situations and acting "goofy" as if it's the most hilarious thing ever. Director Brian Robbins, who also guided Murphy in the dreadful 'Norbit,' again seems to be intimated by his star. Seemingly unable to coax a genuine performance out of Murphy, the director prefers to just stand back and let him cash a paycheck. It's all rather depressing.
If the story of 'Meet Dave' is, admittedly, somewhat cute, this is also another of those modern comedies that confuses chaos with inspiration. It's likely there could have been a fun movie in here somewhere, with Murphy playing his multiple parts (hey, it worked in the 'Nutty Professor' movies) and interacting with himself and a bunch of phony CGI, but the pacing is so frenetic and the plotting so slapdash that nothing registers. It's like a relay race to get from one gag to the next, and all the supporting characters barely register. Certainly, in better films like 'Brother from Another Planet' and particularly 'Starman,' we get the usual cutesy scenes of the out-of-place alien trying to adapt to an Planet Earth, but 'Meet Dave' has little concern for human insight or observation -- it's like a marketing concept in search of a movie.
Are there any pleasures to be found in 'Meet Dave?' Not really. I can only say that, ultimately, it is an innocuous film and perfectly acceptable viewing for the whole family. It's also a bit better than 'Norbit' (which isn't saying much). But it's hard to watch Murphy continue to squander his gifts on such subpar material. There comes a point when a star needs to protect their legacy, and no matter how great the desire to work, should just turn down material until the right project comes along. Murphy would do well to just quit acting entirely than subject us to another movie like 'Meet Dave.' Yes, it's that bad.
'Meet Dave' receives a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode, framed at 1.85:1. It's a pleasing presentation, if nothing spectacular.
For a major studio release, 'Meet Dave' looks a bit cheap and has all the visual acumen of a TV movie. The best aspect of the transfer is the color, which is rather pleasing and nicely saturated. Fleshtones are generally accurate, if a bit artificial thanks to the bumped up contrast. Blacks hold firm, however, so the slightly hot appearance adds some depth at the expense of the finest details. Shadow delineation is fair, with some loss of texture due to black crush. Visible detail is again good if not spectacular. Fox has delivered a fine encode, with no major compression artifacts aside from slight noise. Finally, the source is absolutely pristine, and grain is minimal. 'Meet Dave' looks perfectly pleasing if wholly unmemorable.
Fox gives us a DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround track for 'Meet Dave.' As if it mattered.
The film makes fairly good use of the surrounds for a lightweight comedy. There are frequent discrete effects and a few atmospheric moments, and nice score bleed throughout. Tech specs are polished enough, with robust dynamic range and more than adequate low bass. Dialogue is balanced perfectly well in the mix. 'Meet Dave' hardly pushes the boundaries of Blu-ray audio, and gets a soundtrack to match such lowly ambitions. No complaints here.
With the film a box office bomb and a few likely wanting to talk about it now that the dust has settled, it's no surprise the extras on this Blu-ray are entirely of the promotional variety. Apparently, all of this material was shot before anyone saw the movie. At least the quality is great, with the majority in full 1080 video.
'Meet Dave' is another dreadful comedy from a sleepwalking Eddie Murphy. (Whatever critical and commercial goodwill the actor generated with 'Dreamgirls' is now long gone.) This Blu-ray is a perfectly adequate presentation of a mediocre movie, with nice video, audio and promotional extras. If for some reason you like this movie, then by all means go to town with this Blu-ray. All others, you've been warned.