Meet the numbskulls
MEET DAVE Directed by Brian Robbins. Starring Eddie Murphy, Elizabeth Banks, Gabrielle Union, Ed Helms, Judah Friedlander, Pat Kilbane PG cert, gen release, 90 min
BEWARE! The director and star of Norbit are returning to your cinema. If Brian Robbins’s film showed Eddie Murphy bathing in sewage for 90 minutes, then Meet Dave might still be regarded as an improvement on its famously unpleasant predecessor. As it happens, the film turns out to be a bearable accidental updating of the Beano comic strip The Numbskulls (or, if you prefer, the late sitcom Herman’s Head).
Eddie, who, once again, raises the odd laugh despite the wretched material, stars in two roles of physically distinct proportions. Now listen carefully, because this is difficult to convey in short sentences. Murphy, a miniature alien, has been put in charge of a spaceship constructed in his image. After flying to Earth, this white-suited man-vessel – colossal to its inhabitants, Norbit- sized to the people of this planet – begins stomping about New York in search of a lost piece of alien paraphernalia. This being family-movie season, he makes friends with a bullied youth and, after exchanging pleasantries with his kindly, widowed mom, sets about tidying up the father-shaped hole in the boy’s life.
Meet Dave opened in the US last week and generated the third-worst box-office figures in Murphy’s career. The film is crass, illogical and patronising, but, considering the various farting imbeciles Eddie has brought to our cinemas over the past two decades, it hardly deserves that unhappy position astride Holy Man and Pluto Nash. Murphy manages a very good funny walk and jokes involving tiny people operating tongues, bellies and nostrils never quite go out of fashion.
Still, the laziness in the writing is something to behold. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Mom returns to find her young son playing video games with a strange, overdressed man who, earlier that day, began hanging around the lad’s school. Rather than phoning the police, she invites Dave to stay for dinner. New York is a friendlier place than we had been led to believe.
Nope, it doesn’t suit you, sir