WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
I gave Ron Underwood's The Adventures of Pluto Nash as fair a chance as I could manage. I figured it was possible that the film had attained a bad rap, thanks to bad pre-release buzz or a moviegoing public that just didn't grasp the subtle intricacies of a potentially great film. I mean, look: This is a film with a top-notch comedic cast. You've got Eddy Murphy, Randy Quaid, Joe Pantoliano, Pam Grier, Jay Mohr, Luis Guzman, Peter Boyle, Alec Baldwin, and John Cleese. Plus, you've got Ron Underwood, the director of one of my favorite horror comedies, Tremors. How could anything go wrong?
Turns out, there are many ways that Pluto Nash goes wrong, and what amazes me is that nobody—none of the usually bright minds associated with this disaster—saw the film for what it was: a sloppy, boring, dreadfully unfunny behemoth. The film was the worst financial flop in the history of motion pictures, grossing less than $5 million against a budget of $100 million.
Perhaps the most egregious aspect of Pluto Nash is its appallingly bad script, care of Neil Cuthbert. Pluto Nash (Murphy), fresh out of prison, is hanging out on the moon with his failed-lounge-singer buddy Tony (Mohr) when he suddenly finds himself the owner of a lunar nightspot, which he turns into a goldmine. The remainder of the film involves Pluto's attempts to save his nightspot from the clutches of a greedy realty mobster intent on stealing his club. I'm serious. Aiding him in his real-estate-protection quest are his ever-smiling but late-model android Bruno (Quaid) and the down-on-her-luck-but gorgeous-waitress-wannabe-singer Dina (Rosario Dawson). Grier plays Pluto's mom in a throwaway role. And frankly, I don't want to spend any more time on the plot.
There are so many flaws tumbling across the screen that you can barely keep up with them. There's a ridiculous sense of anachronism that asks you to accept a moon setting 100 years in the future that looks and sounds very much like today, save for the flying cars and holograms. R&B music grinds the soundtrack to a halt. The movie is full of silly, obvious jokes, such as the mention of a cloned basketball team called the Air Jordans spawned from one senior-citizen source. Cross-streets on the moon of Microsoft and Sixth. The visage of Hilary Clinton on 10,000 bills. A moon-highway billboard that reads Trump Realty.
At a certain point, say, 10 minutes in, all you can do is wince as events unfold. You feel for the actors, who seem to be having fun within a doomed enterprise that will ultimately humiliate them. The only good thing I have to say about Pluto Nash is that there's a surprisingly well-done fight scene toward the end of the film, involving clones. The tussle is extremely well filmed with startlingly fine special effects and fun humor.
Unfortunately, it's surrounded by a truly awful film.
HOW'S IT LOOK?
Warner presents The Adventures of Pluto Nash in a better-than-the-film-deserves anamorphic-widescreen transfer of the film's original 1.85:1 theatrical presentation. The color palette of the film's blue lunar landscape seems accurate. Detail is exemplary. I had few problems with the image.
HOW'S IT SOUND?
The disc offers a Dolby Digital 5.1 track that is generally front-heavy. Surround activity is mostly limited to effects such as laser fire and explosions, lending the track a gimmicky feel. Your subwoofer will get a modest workout, lending a depth to the entire soundscape.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
The first extra is Cast & Crew, which kinda gives you an idea what you're in for as special features are concerned. Selecting it gives you selected filmographies of the major players.
Next is The Making of the Music Video. I'm serious.
Next is the Imx Music Video, "Ain't No Need." What, you think I'm joking?
Next is a selection of Additional Scenes. There are four. I didn't watch them.
WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?
Let's hope Ron Underwood's career survives this debacle so that he can someday create a film that approaches the quality of Tremors.