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

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

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

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