Murphy's latest romp turns out to have an empty shell

PUBLISHED: 18:22 24 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:14 07 September 2010

Eddie Murphy has belittled his own talents

Eddie Murphy has belittled his own talents

Meet Dave (PG) Director Brian Robbins Starring Eddie Murphy, Elisabeth Banks, Gabrielle Union, Ed Helms, Austyn Lind Myers, Scott Cann 90 mins Three star rating In a case of art imitating life, Eddie Murphy plays a shell of a man in his latest family or

Meet Dave (PG)

Director Brian Robbins

Starring Eddie Murphy, Elisabeth Banks, Gabrielle Union, Ed Helms, Austyn Lind Myers, Scott Cann

90 mins

Three star rating

In a case of art imitating life, Eddie Murphy plays a shell of a man in his latest family orientated comedy. Murphy is not a man to venture out in to the marketplace without a very high concept to protect himself - generally something involving fat suits or talking animals - and this time he's working an idea that's been done before by for instance Woody Allen in Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex and a comic strip in the Beano.

Dave is a human shaped space ship, populated by a miniature crew and captained by a tiny Eddie Murphy. Having landed in New York, the crew have difficulty trying to make their ship move in normal earth ways which opens up plenty of slapstick comic opportunities that are milked rather well by Murphy.

Dave's point of human contact is a single mother (widow of American military hero, so good, worthy single mother) and her bullied, put-upon kid, the latest in the line of Elliot from ET clones. The ship's mission is to destroy the Earth to save their own planet and the multicultural crew are initially a cold, rigid bunch, horrified by the chaos and brutality of humanity. But with remarkable haste most of them are won round by this giant race, provoking a mutiny from those still loyal to the mission.

The movie is like its lead character; it moves awkwardly, is incapable of subtlety and feels like there are a number of different voices wrestling for control.

When it's funny it mostly succeeds but it shoehorns in so much sentimentality you'd think it was an endangered species and this was the ark taking it to safety. Its only novelty is being a movie where the white folks teach the black people how to loosen up.

Murphy gets to live out all his Star Trek fantasies here and the stilted clipped accent he uses to play the captain could be his Jean Luc Picard homage. Really though, what is he doing re-teaming with the director of career low Norbit, adding another extension to what looks more like a holding pattern than a career? A precision instrument controlled by a muddled and uncertain intelligence with little idea how to best utilise its incredible gifts- perhaps Meet Dave is a self portrait?

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