Reviews

Meet Dave

Meet Dave is "Eddie Murphy in Eddie Murphy," literally, metaphorically, exhaustively.


Meet Dave

Director: Brian Robbins
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Gabrielle Union, Ed Helms, Elizabeth Banks, Judah Friedlander
Length: 90
MPAA rating: PG
Studio: Fox
First date: 2008
UK Release Date: 2008-07-18 (General release)
US Release Date: 2008-07-11 (General release)
Website
Trailer

The tagline for Meet Dave sums up its High Concept. It's "Eddie Murphy in Eddie Murphy," literally, metaphorically, exhaustively. Such proud self-absorption -- part running gag, part consumer warning -- is hardly news for the Murphy Machine, which is, in fact, another concept made exceedingly literal here. As Dave, a human-sized space ship carrying a crew of tiny beings from a planet named Nil, Murphy makes mostly unfunny jokes about robots, cops, aliens, straight coupling rituals, and gay men.

It doesn’t help that Murphy has previously and repeatedly taken aim at all these subjects (except maybe robots). Following a series of movies in which Murphy has played splasticky incarnations of himself (as young man, old man, fat man, fat woman, Chinese man, white man, etc.), Meet Dave provides for an awkward, mostly unconvincing incarnation. Worse, neither Murphy nor director Brian Robbins appears to have gleaned any cultural insights from the public relations disaster of Norbit (though they're likely pleased with the film's global take, close to $160 million worldwide). While the very idea/image of Eddie Murphy having sex with Eddie Murphy was gaggy enough, Norbit's essential misogyny was disturbing on a whole other level. Meet Dave, infuriatingly, offers no improvement in this department.

Here again, the Eddie Murphy character is lording it over two female characters. The first is Number 3 (Gabrielle Union), one of the teeny crewmembers who makes the space trek to earth inside the big ship named Dave. For no evident reason, she is crushing madly on her captain (played by Murphy). Initially, she seems smart, more efficient, more organized, and more forward-looking than the captain, and yet, she reveals (after several scenes when she gazes adoringly at him from her data-gathering console on the deck inside Dave's head), she has loved him since they were classmates at an academy back on Nil.

Number 3's adoring gazes occur during their current mission, which takes them to New York City (by way of Liberty Island, where the ship lands face-first in the ground in front of the Statue of Liberty). "This is the moment we've been training for," exults the captain, as they embark on a search for salt, which they mean to suck out of the earth's oceans in order to "power [their] world." First they need to find an orb (shades of Men in Black), essentially the sucking device, which has landed in the bedroom of a boy named Josh (Austyn Lind Myers) and has since become his favorite object to take to school (shades of CJ7). Wouldn't you know, Josh's mom, Gina (Elizabeth Banks) is not only single (her husband a dead Navy hero, now serving as an impossible role model for her short, cute, insecure 11-year-old), but also happens to slam into Dave with her wood-on-the-side Jeep Wagoneer.

Gina's throwbackness is not limited to her choice in vehicle. Her initial outfit is equally quaint, a circa-'70s knit top that sorta sets her up for emotional parity with Dave, whose crisp white suit is based on Number 3's assiduous research into earth customs, that is, the "only signal" her advanced tech could find, the opening credits sequence of Fantasy Island. Gina and Dave hit it off, though their match only makes sense within the Murphy Machine's gallumphing gender politics. She's a touchy-feely, excessively charitable freelance painter, he's an uptight, patronizing ship's captain. The movie makes much of their differences, especially as Dave (or more precisely, the crew running him) works hard to keep up with her quirky behaviors and giddy energy, Number 3 feeding him hastily Googled answers to her innocuous questions (when she asks where he's a captain, he grimaces, smiles, and spurts, "I am a captain of crunch!").

Meet Dave's science-fictionish plot clunks along at just about this pace, with at least three poorly integrated strands shooting off in different directions. While an NYC cop (Scott Caan) pursues what he believes to be an alien life form, Dave engaging in assorted bodily function events (from a ramming down hotdogs at an eating contest to downing mojitos at a salsa club), and the ship's crewmembers succumbing to an unexplained earthly influence that leads them to abandon their stations. Not only do the mechanics begin to dance and cavort, but the glowering security chief turns flamingly gay -- complete with dance moves and hairdresser's shears -- after catching a glimpse of A Chorus Line.

It doesn't take long before Number 3 seeks a piece of this action. But her redo by the flaming security chief -- a new poofty skirt and scary-glam hair -- aren't enough to distract the captain, who's already distracted by Gina. Try as she might to make him aware of the white woman's "big ass," the captain convinces himself that by dating Josh's mother (as Dave), he's helping the child, saving earth, and oh yes, keeping Gina from the neighbor who loves her but won't tell her, the mostly irrelevant Mark (Marc Blucas, still and forever playing Riley). Because Dave/the captain can't actually fall for a white woman, Mark's primary function is be emphatically white (underlined by Dave's imitations of his speech patterns), so that Gina can have something like a happy ending. The fact that her ending and Number 3's ending are essentially the same -- gazing into the faces of socially inept and selfish men -- makes plain Meet Dave's fundamental defect.

2
Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Film

Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.

Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Music

The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Music

Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.

Music

​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Music

John Fullbright Salutes Leon Russell with "If the Shoe Fits" (premiere + interview)

John Fullbright and other Tulsa musicians decamped to Leon Russell's defunct studio for a four-day session that's a tribute to Dwight Twilley, Hoyt Axton, the Gap Band and more. Hear Fullbright's take on Russell's "If The Shoe Fits".

Music

Roots Rocker Webb Wilder Shares a "Night Without Love" (premiere + interview)

Veteran roots rocker Webb Wilder turns back the hands of time on an old favorite of his with "Night Without Love".

Film

The 10 Best Films of Sir Alan Parker

Here are 10 reasons to mourn the passing of one of England's most interesting directors, Sir Alan Parker.

Music

July Talk Transform on 'Pray for It'

On Pray for It, Canadian alt-poppers July Talk show they understand the complex dualities that make up our lives.

Music

With 'Articulation' Rival Consoles Goes Back to the Drawing Board

London producer Rival Consoles uses unorthodox approaches on his latest record, Articulation, resulting in a stunning, beautiful collection.

Film

Paranoia Goes Viral in 'She Dies Tomorrow'

Amy Seimetz's thriller, She Dies Tomorrow, is visually dazzling and pulsating with menace -- until the color fades.

Music

MetalMatters: July 2020 - Back on Track

In a busy and exciting month for metal, Boris arrive in rejuvenated fashion, Imperial Triumphant continue to impress with their forward-thinking black metal, and death metal masters Defeated Sanity and Lantern return with a vengeance.

Books

Isabel Wilkerson's 'Caste' Reveals the Other Kind of American Exceptionalism

By comparing the American race-based class system to that of India and Nazi Germany, Isabel Wilkerson makes us see a familiar evil in a different light with her latest work, Caste.

Film

Anna Kerrigan Prioritizes Substance Over Style in 'Cowboys'

Anna Kerrigan talks with PopMatters about her latest film, Cowboys, which deviates from the common "issues style" approach to LGBTQ characters.

Music

John Fusco and the X-Road Riders Get Funky with "It Takes a Man" (premiere + interview)

Screenwriter and musician John Fusco pens a soulful anti-street fighting man song, "It Takes a Man". "As a trained fighter, one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned is to walk away from a fight without letting ego get the best of you."

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.