Family flicks can come in a variety of formats and genres. They can range from animation to real life; from comical to those that seem more like an afternoon special. It is tough now not only for the kids but for the parents as well. What is frequently needed is a movie that can take you out of the problematic world into one of pure fantasy. One such film is ‘Meet Dave’ by film maker Brian Robbins. It is not a great film by any means but it is a piece of entertaining fluff that you can enjoy together. The film has its flaws but many are technical in nature and will be largely unnoticed by the younger set. Adults may find this film a bit pedantic and often silly but more than something worth watching. There have been a slew of science fiction based family films. One reason this genre lends itself so well for such a flick is the universal appeal that strange worlds and creatures have for us all. Many adult Sci-Fi fans began their infatuation with the genre as children. Over the years the preferred subject matter may have become more intense but the underlying awe and wonderment remains. This movie is an able to provide that. Many who have made negative remarks about the film may have looked at it solely adult perspective. To get the most out of this film you have to let go of adult sensibilities and released that inner tem year old that is lurking within. The film had a reported budget of $60 million which is about par for the course for a live action, effects driven family movie. It really didn’t perform up to expectations in the box office but a large part of that may have been its mid July opening. This placed it head to head with the popular summer blockbusters of that season. This is one of those flicks that you have to watch and decide for yourself. Now that is easier than ever with the Fox release of the DVD and Blu-ray. On that Saturday afternoon when the chores are down and nobody wants to go out slip this into the player, make some popcorn and forget the real world for a little while as a family.
The story and screenplay was written by Rob Greenberg and Bill Corbett. Greenberg has a few years writing comedies and fantasies mostly for a family audience. He also wrote several episodes of the hit television series ‘Frasier’. Corbett has a quirky resume with writing credits for ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ and its follow up series ‘The Film Crew’. This gave him a unique and decidedly askew look at science fiction. Together the men provide a whimsical story that requires a good deal of suspension of belief but that is just part of watching this as a child would see it. Admittedly it is a silly flick and will make your head hurt if you try to think about it too much. It is about a team of one inch tall aliens on earth to retrieve a device necessary to save their planet. I don’t know why the whole universe sees our little planet as an intergalactic stop and shop for their planetary problems but there must be one great ad campaign out among the stars pointing right to us. The aliens travel in a space ship that looks exactly like their commander, both played by Eddie Murphy. This plot device lends itself to all sorts of comical mayhem and a touch of romance thanks to two beautiful young women; one miniature the other full sized. In order to get the kids fully involved there is a main character of their age; a requirement for this kind of film. The screenplay has enough potty humor to keep the kids laughing and showcase the juvenile antics of Murphy. It feels like they tried to create a character driven comedy but came up with on dependent on unlikely situations and coincidences.
Directing the flick is Brian Robbins. Most of his experience has been in television mostly in the fields of production and acting. He has participated in one way or another on some of the most popular shows around; heavy on the family side of things. Most of his directorial work has also been on TV but for films his highest profile projects has been on the ‘Shaggy Dog’ remake and a previous Murphy vehicle ‘Norbet’. The problem he faced with this movie seems to be typical of the latest projects starring Eddie Murphy. Too much time is spent with shots of Murphy mugging for the camera or walking funny. He is not the kind of physical comedian that can do slapstick but is constantly trying to prove himself as such. For those that remember him back in the days of his early career Murphy was completely different. His seminal work then was ‘Raw’; a look at his frequently obscene stand up comedy act. Murphy was cutting edge and even in the tamer venue of ‘Saturday Night Live’ he was a comic genius. Now he depends on brand recognition to sell his flicks. The biggest short coming of this film is it spends too much time letting Murphy show off and not enough developing the story.
Josh Morrison (Austin Lynd Myers) likes to watch the skies from his New York City apartment using his telescope. One day he catches sight of an object moving towards him. A basketball sized sphere lands in his room. A few months later a fireball lands on nearby Liberty Island. It is a space ship nicknamed ‘Dave’ and it looks just like its commander, the Captain. All of the crew of the ship is about an inch tall and they are looking for the sphere. It is needed to extract salt from the oceans of the earth which is required to save their planet. The ship begins to walk around and is hit by a car driven by Josh’s mother Gina (Elizabeth Banks). Inside the Captain uses the ship to befriend Josh and Gina to get the sphere. Unfortunately it was taken from Josh by a bully. Once the Captain gets to know humans he has doubts about his mission since it would destroy life on earth. He cancels it but his number 2 (Ed Helms) strongly disagrees. One the Captain’s side is his number 3, the cultural officer (Gabrielle Union). While all of this is going on a police officer Dooley (Scott Caan) is hot on the trail of ‘Dave’.
The film is fun and everybody in the family will get a few laughs. Fox has done an excellent job in providing a DVD and Blu-ray release of the film. The Blu-ray is incredibly well done. The 1080p is flawless. The color palette is spot on; bright with amazing contrast. The DTS HD lossless audio is robust and gets you a full, rich sound stage. There are also plenty of extras to keep you busy. It is not the best flick around but it will entertain.