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Monday, July 14, 2008

Meet Dave

I’m going to tell you right up front that when I first saw the “Coming Soon” poster at the Essex Cinemas for Meet Dave I whined like that obnoxious Long Island cow in the Cash 4 Gold commercial that runs every friggin’ five minutes on tv, you know the one I mean “I took the wedding ba-and from my first may-ridge and sent it in and had ca-ash the va-wy next day (because I had no respect for my first husband anyway and this is just one more way I could humiliate him and rip his heart out on national tee vee)”. I pleaded for manager Dale Chapman not to bring this Eddie Murphy (alleged) comedy to his theater. “Pulllease,” I cried. “Don’t you remember (here’s where I threw up a little in my mouth) the horrible mistake that was Norbit?”

Dale was unmoved. “Norbit made a lot of money,” he answered coldly.

“So do abortions, but I doubt you’d want to have them performed in Theater 1 as entertainment for the masses.”

Yes, I hear you saying ‘Oh, she did not go there!’, but I was desperate, so, yes, I did go that far, and if you had seen Norbit and had any taste that wasn’t located in your feet then you would know I was fighting for you, Dear Readers. It may sound ugly, but think of me as your personal Joan of Arc when it comes to all things cinematic. I hear those voices in my head for you, and I say my most tasteless things in your defense.

Of course, as usual, Dale didn’t listen to me, as so last Saturday I made it a point to go to the theater on an empty stomach and steeled myself to watch all 90 minutes of Meet Dave. The premise itself is odd enough. “Dave”, you see, is not a “he” but an “it.” “Dave” is an extraterrestrial spaceship, built in the image of a human being (Eddie Murphy, of course). Inside Dave is a full crew of wee aliens, led by a Captain (also Murphy) who has come to Earth in search of a missing orb sent a few months earlier on a mission to drain the planet’s seas of all their salt and return them to the crew’s home world. It’s during the opening credits when we first see the orb make its way past Jupiter and Saturn inward towards the Earth, which means it had to have come from further out in the solar system. I immediately wished that Eddie Murphy was sitting next to me so I could have asked him “Where did Dave come from? Uranus?” If you think that sounds like the type of line that should have been reserved for something as cheesy as the old television series "Mystery Science Theater 3000", the one where a guy hung out in front of a movie screen with his trusty robots and hurled horrible jokes at rotten movies from the ‘50s and ‘60s, well it would have fit right in here. It turns out that Meet Dave was written by one of those famous little robots (well, his performer anyway), Bill Corbett, who provided the voice of “Crow” and wrote the jokes for 51 episodes of that groan-inducing laugh-fest, "Mystery Science Theater 3000". His co-writer on this particular project (which sounds nicer than calling it a “hot tranny mess”, but not nearly as apropos considering we are talking about Eddie Murphy, and that’s a reference I’ll leave for you to research through the National Enquirer if you don’t already get it) is sitcom writer Rob Greenberg (Spellbound).

Actually, once Dave hits the ground (headfirst, in front of The Statue of Liberty), it does get some laughs when “he” runs (literally) into single mother Gina Morrison (Elizabeth Banks; Definitely, Maybe) and she takes him into her home to make sure he is not injured. Coincidentally, of all the humans on the face of the planet, it just so happens that ~surprise! ~ Gina’s son Josh (debuting Austyn Myers) just happens to be the one who snagged the orb, which, covered in space gunk, looks like more like an exotic rock than menacing space mechanism.

The real fun of the movie ~ and yes, I said it, there is some actual fun ~ takes place mostly inside of Dave itself. The ship, which is slightly reminiscent of a jazzed up Starship Enterprise inside,
features an interesting enough crew, including Ed Helms of tv’s "The Daily Show" as No. 2, the Captain’s way-too-tightly-wound second-in-command and Gabrielle Union (The Perfect Holiday) as No. 3, the lovelorn Cultural Officer whose job is to interpret human behavior for the Captain so that he can direct Dave’s speech and movements among the populace of New York. Probably the funniest member of the crew though has to be No. 4 (Pat Kilbane; Semi-Pro), the 6’5” Security Officer, whose personality takes an unusual turn after “Dave” wanders accidently into a matinee performance of Broadway’s ‘A Chorus Line.’ Let’s just say that before anybody returns to their home planet, No. 4 is going to ensure they have a fabulously gay old time, and ‘girlfriend’ definitely knows how to Salsa!

There’s not much of an earth-shattering plot to Meet Dave. Well, actually, that’s exactly what it’s all about since stealing the Earth’s sea-salt would destroy the planet’s oceans and eventually the world itself, but ~ ho hum ~ this is a comedy, and so the dramatic end-of-the-world cataclysm is so totally nothing to worry about.

I was much more fascinated by the idea of a human-shaped rocket-ship. Granted, this is an Eddie Murphy movie so they had to make the ship look like him, but how impractical. First, he is far too skinny. There is a big crew on this ship and they need a lot of room for their quarters. I don’t care how tiny these folks are, they still need their space, and I’m not talkin’ about the final frontier type of space on the outside. The ship needs more room, and so I think if these aliens need a human form then I am selflessly willing to volunteer my own body as a model for any sequel (oh-oh, here comes that upchuck into my mouth again) the producers may feel compelled to make. I have more to offer than Eddie as a ship. I’ve definitely got plenty of room for the crew’s quarters. Hell, they can have guest rooms and dens considering my waist. As for extra amenities, Eddie definitely didn’t have the junk in the trunk I do to offer the crew an Olympic-sized pool, basketball court, spa, bowling alley, and running track. Sigh. I’m not proud to admit it, but I could probably fit all those things in there and a Starbuck’s outlet besides. Eddie also doesn’t have D-cups up top, but I’m not sure we have to think too much more at this point about what else this interstellar ship might need (multi-level disco? petting zoo?).

Ninety minutes after going in I found myself leaving the theater with all my nails intact, which
surprised me. I half-expected to break them all off in the armrest of the seat if I experienced any Norbit foolishness, but I will do a little mea culpa here and admit that on the Eddie Murphy stink-o-meter this falls somewhere above The Adventures of Pluto Nash which means you aren’t likely to want to fold up in a fetal position and beg for the sweet release of death after seeing it, and that’s saying a lot for an Eddie Murphy comedy these days, and it’s nowhere nearly as wretched as Norbit, which shall now and forever be known in my house as “the other ‘N word’!”

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