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Meet Dave (2008)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 11/25/2008

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2
Audio: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/30/2008

The old adage "You can't judge a book by its cover." is very true. (Trust me, I got burned a lot in the late 80s and early 90s by horror novels whose covers made promises which the books couldn't keep.) Obviously, the lesson here is that one shouldn't be too quick to judge. But, be it books or movies, when you've been misled before, it's difficult to not be wary. Therefore, when we see a certain actor or filmmaker associated with a movie, it can be hard not to assume that the film may be good or bad based solely on their participation. I would be willing to bet that when those who actually heard about Meet Dave saw that it was a science-fiction/comedy with Eddie Murphy, the first thing that they thought of was the superflop The Adventures of Pluto Nash. And who can blame them? But, would a seasoned vet like Murphy make the same mistake twice?

Meet Dave opens with a man (Eddie Murphy) dressed in an immaculate white three-piece suit crash to Earth on Liberty Island in New York. The man takes on the name "Dave Ming-Chang" and begin to search the city. We soon learn that "Dave" is actually a spaceship, complete with tiny crew inside. They have come to Earth seeking an orb which was sent to our planet to drain all of the salt from the ocean. Dave is struck by a car driven by Gina (Elizabeth Banks), who insists on treating him to dinner. Once at Gina's apartment, Dave meets her son, Josh (Austin Lynd Myers), and realizes that Josh had been in possession of the orb. Following this, Dave begins to follow Josh around town. As this occurs, the crew, lead by The Captain (Eddie Muphy), begin to learn more about life on Earth. Sensitive crew member Number 3 (Gabrielle Union) begs The Captain to re-think their mission. With "Dave" running out of power, The Captain must make a decision.

When Meet Dave was released into the crowded summer market this past July, Fox did it with practically no fanfare. I remember seeing the TV spots only a few times, and the one-sheet in theaters told you nothing about the movie. Apparently, they were just throwing it out there to see how it would do. And this was an odd decision, as Meet Dave isn't that bad.

In fact, Meet Dave is Eddie Murphy's most accessible movie since Daddy Day Care (I thought that Norbit was hilarious, but it certainly wasn't for everyone.) Unlike many of Murphy's recent projects, Meet Dave allows him to look like Eddie Murphy, but still lose himself in the character. The crew knows very little about Earth, so "Dave" must adapt as he moves through the city. This allows Murphy the chance to copy others and do silly walks. Years ago, Murphy proved himself to be a natural mimic and he proves that those talents still exist. No, this isn't Trading Places, but it's still funny.

But, while Murphy shines, the story sags. The script was written by sitcom veteran Rob Greenberg and Mystery Science Theater 3000 alum Bill Corbett (he wrote for the show and he was the voice of Crow), and it's easy to see where their styles collide. The film's plot is a bizarre combination of Coming to America and Star Trek, with a dash of Galaxy Quest thrown in for good measure. These angles put a somewhat different spin on the "fish out of water" story (although, it could be argued that John Sayles did all of this first with The Brother from Another Planet), while it also spoofs many sci-fi conventions. But, then these ideas are thrown in with some pretty standard (and often lame) plot devices such as Gina as the single mom, and Josh as the kid who doesn't believe in himself. Any power that the film gets from the originality of the idea that "Dave" is a spaceship is often stymied by the hackneyed nature of the rest of the material. Also, a subplot featuring Scott Caan and Mike O'Malley as two cops who are on Dave's trail, often slows the film.

So, Meet Dave is a decidedly mixed-bag. Eddie Murphy turns in one of his funniest performances in years (playing two roles, no less), but the rest of the material simply can't keep up with him. Fox is trying to sell Meet Dave as a family film. Is it? I'm not sure. There's no truly objectionable material here and the PG-rating is appropriate. But, the fact that Dave is hit by a car and some of his appendages come off may frighten little ones. One things is for sure, Meet Dave is not the train-wreck which many probably feared that it might be, and if Fox had released it in the spring or the fall (and actually advertised it), it would have probably done brisk business.

Meet Dave lands face-first on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 35 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only a hint of grain in some scenes and no defects from the source material. The picture is very nice detailed and shows a good amount of depth, most notably in the exterior scenes, where the foreground and background are nicely separated. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. A very solid transfer. The Disc offers a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.4 Mbps. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is another good track from Fox. The stereo effects are very good, most notably in the street scenes. The speaker separation is notable, as is the location of each sound. These effects are quite detailed. The surround effects are good as well, and they and subwoofer effects really come into play when Dave crashes to Earth.

The Meet Dave Blu-ray Disc contains an assortment of extras. "Crew Profiles" is an interactive piece which provides information and "interviews" with 8 members of the spaceship's crew. We get a 3-minute GAG REEL. The Disc contains four DELETED SCENES which run about three minutes. These are all quite brief and only contain throw-away moments. There is a 1-minute ALTERNATE ENDING which is more of a tacked-on finale scene than something which changes the ending. "The Making of Meet Dave" (22 minutes) contains a number of comments from the cast and filmmakers. The piece examines the cast and characters, location shooting, the green-screen effects, and the sets. The Disc offers three "Fox Movie Channel Presents..." shorts. "Life After Film School with Director Brian Robbins" (29 minutes) opens with Robbins saying "I didn't go to film school." OK. From there, three film students ask Robbins questions about his career as both an actor and a director. "Making a Scene" (10 minutes) looks at a scene from the film where the tiny inhabitants of the spaceship are loose on a New York street. "World Premiere" (5 minutes) has moments from teh red carpet, including comments from the actors.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long