Meet Dave

Starring Eddie Murphy, Elizabeth Banks, Gabrielle Union and Scott Caan. Directed by Brian Robbins
Running Time: 90mins
Rated: Rated PG
Okay, so a movie about extra-terrestrials visiting Earth is hardly novel. But Meet Dave puts a refreshing new spin on the idea, and the inventive concept of how it occurs, and the form that the alien craft takes, sets up a whole range of situations and complications.
Screenwriters Rob Greenberg and Bill Corbett, who came up with the idea, deserve full marks for originality. If their screenplay fails to generate any really big laughs, it is nevertheless an amiable, family-oriented sci-fi fantasy that delivers its quota of chuckles.
It is also a good vehicle for Eddie Murphy, who gets to play two roles: the Captain of the spaceship crew and a gigantic replica of himself that is the spaceship. You see, these visitors from another planet look just like humans except they are only three or four centimetres in height. So to enable them to land in Manhattan and retrieve an orb that is vital to their planet's existence, they construct a spaceship to look like one of the "gargantuan beasts' who inhabit the Earth.
When "Dave' the spaceship takes his first jerky, exploratory steps on the streets of Manhattan, he looks like a man but is, in fact, a metal machine in a white suit, operated on the inside by a Lilliputian crew frantically trying to programme the correct responses to all the situations Dave finds himself in.
Much of the humour derives from Dave (i.e., the crew) being bewildered by strange human behaviour and unfamiliar objects - salsa dancing, for example, or tubes of processed meat ("hot dogs') or the peculiar paroxysm called laughter. And they wonder why the human knowledge banks should be given such curiousames as Google and Yahoo.
Dave's unearthly powers are good for a few gags, too. What other superhero can sharpen a pencil by sticking it up his nostril, or print money by passing his hand across a bill and producing replicas out of his backside? And when Dave damages an ankle, a maintenance crew pops out of his ear and abseils down to his boot to rectify the problem.
The lost orb is in the possession of fifth-grader named Josh (Austyn Lind Myers), whose attractive widowed mother Gina (Elizabeth Banks) just happens to be driving the car that knocks Dave down when he wanders into its path. From Gina and Josh the aliens learn much about the softer side of human nature. Meanwhile, inside Dave a light-deck mutiny threatns as the ship's No. 2 (Ed Helms) plots to assume the running of the mission.
Director Brian Robbins (Norbit) strikes a nice balance between the sci-fi elements and the folksiness of the Gina/Josh side of the film, turning in an entertainment that is never less than agreeable.
Fox Out July 10

Jim Murphy is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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