Meet Dave is a movie made for children, period. If you are a full on adult, you should only watch Dave with this in mind. If you are a cinephile parent who is bitter about having to watch horrible children’s films, stay away from Meet Dave and rent Wall-E. If you are a busy parent who is completely desensitized to bad movie-making, this film will seem like a delightful respite compared to the likes of Shrek The Halls. Meet Dave is at its worst illogical, and at its best, surprisingly funny.
Eddie Murphy gets dropped down in New York, without a clue, a known background, or the ability to fit in. He manages on the money front, makes friends and yells ridiculous things at people due to the fact that he is completely unfamiliar with the culture. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s the plot of Coming to America, but it can serve just as well for Meet Dave. With the additional information that Eddie Murphy is, instead of a clueless prince, a spaceship filled with tiny, tiny aliens. He doubles as the captain of a ship made in his likeness.
The spaceship lands on our planet and the aliens start picking up earthling traits. One man realizes he’s gay, one man realizes he’s black and one woman realizes she’s in love. Each realization leads to some of the most stereotypical characterization I’ve ever seen. The gay man instantly re-decorates his bunk, starts listening to Cher and gains a lisp. The black man begins consistently spouting hackneyed Ebonics. The woman starts pouting, manipulating, and dressing slutty. It’s all depressingly uncreative. If you are going to use a movie to put on display all of the things that are great about earthlings (as so many sci-fi movies before Dave have), don’t highlight our awful stereotypes.
Although the movie is simply phoned-in at times, Eddie Murphy is still a gem. His comedic timing and infectiously dorky movements are still in top form. Elizabeth Banks shows up as a main character and sparkles as she does in every film she graces with her presence. Yes, her comedic brilliance is being wasted on this middling film, but she almost makes this movie worth watching for non-parents. Due to the Murphy/Banks combo, and the talent of some of the supporting cast, this film is outright funny at times. A few small quotes: “We’ll join this urban camper (about a homeless man),” “Act like a cop and stop caring,” “It’s like space travel, only, in your head! (about alcohol).” It is almost as if the writers of this movie built Meet Dave around these types of quotes, rather than building it around the concept.
The Eddie-Murphy-is-a-spaceship idea is great, but the film doesn’t follow through whatsoever. Every problem that arises is overcome with little to no-effort, making the film’s happy ending feel un-earned. This is a movie where you have absolutely no confusion about how it will end. These aliens are all going to be happy, and they are going to get off of earth with a better understanding of what it is to be human. It is this lack of tension that makes this movie extremely predictable.
The crux of the film comes down to “save this planet or save yourselves.” Once the ship has run out of power and the devastate-human-kind alien mechanism has been activated, the choice comes down to: stay on earth and live as a tiny human or leave and let said mechanism slowly kill everything. The issue gets resolved with a series of clichés and then Eddie Murphy’s character says this: “You’ve taught me the meaning of friendship and courage,” a line that reminds you that you are, beyond a shadow of a doubt, watching a kids’ movie. Dave has its moments, but it truly feels like a dance that has been danced before.
The thing that’s fun about the box of the DVD is that it is absolutely clear that the person who wrote the blurb on the back did not watch the movie. He writes about “Dave” as if it were a real person and refers to it “falling for an earth woman” which doesn’t even happen. It is this type of laziness that pervades the entire film and the special features. The disc does provide both the full frame and widescreen versions via a double sided DVD. The special features are on one side and the gag reel is on the other.
The “special features” include a featurette that is probably the saddest one I’ve ever seen in my life. It has almost the entire cast still in their Dave costumes and speaking in character. Judah Friedlander shows up looking sickly and monotone during his ad-libbed speeches. I think he realizes that he’s doing a horrible bit for a stinker of a movie. The short feature includes stuff like “Previous Occupations” of the crew and “Earth Food.” Nothing that wasn’t in the film is included in the featurette and there is a bunch of footage from the movie spliced in as filler.
The gag reel is short and not sweet at all. It has about three shots of Banks that are each about two seconds long. The rest are of random cast members messing up their lines. You can tell that the film wasn’t really that funny, because there were no shots of the stars cracking up and not being about to speak their lines. The interesting thing about both the gag reel and the featurette is that Mr. Murphy is not in either. It’s that type of move that makes the movie feel even more phoney.