Isn't it about time for Eddie Murphy to pull that Elvis Presley style swansong he's been threatening ever since he first became obsessed with the King - and no, we don't mean cutting a somber recording of "My Way". Instead, we're referencing the "dying on the commode" part of the Boy from Tupelo's legacy. After stinking up silver screens with his horrendous Oscar buzzkiller Norbit, Murphy looked like he was about to right his regressive career fortunes. He chose to take on a spec script co-crafted by MST3K's Bill Corbet entitled Spaceship Dave. Even the premise had promise - a humanoid starship with a Lilliputian crew comes to Earth in search of a certain natural resource. "It" falls in love with a single mom - kind of like Fantastic Voyage meshed with an interstellar Splash. Yet somewhere between visualization and reality, the eventual Meet Dave turned into a turd. How did that happen? What went so very, very wrong? Only a former SNL-er turned superstar can answer to those charges.
Murphy maintains his standard 'couldn't give a shit' attitude throughout. As Dave the starship, he tries to channel Chaplin and Keaton. He winds up looking like a post-autopsy Arbuckle. His lack of physical comedy skill is only matched by his endless mugging. There is nothing subtle in his rocket as real person performance. Things only get worse, however, when he lunges headfirst into alien captain mode. Putting on that most obnoxious of faux accents - the snooty uppercrust Brit - our ersatz hero constantly reminds us that, while a real UK brogue can sell practically anything, a fake one is like substituting the local pub's Guinness with near beer. In either configuration, the man who made us laugh uncontrollably all throughout 48 Hours, The Nutty Professor, and Bowfinger is all but absent nowadays. The rest of the cast is underutilized and uninspired. From the gay-bashing affront of the fey first mate to the "what were they thinking" inclusion of a X-Files obsessed cop, Meet Dave seems strategically designed to disappoint everyone. Those not disheartened are probably too busy being insulted - mentally or ethnically.
Which again brings us to the question of Corbett and Greenberg's involvement. No critic is stupid enough to think that everything the duo put down on paper made it into the movie unscathed, and there have been dozens of examples where star hubris, directorial incompetence, studio interference, and poor casting choices have undermined a perfectly flawless film script. But Meet Dave is so bad, so inexcusably lame, that you have to imagine that some of this stuff came right from inside the writer's minds. In retrospect, the concept of a spaceship shaped like a human being seems a little silly, and even with the most gifted of slapstick experts in the part, the amount of F/X assisted disbelief suspension would be too great to achieve. Then add in all the 'stranger in a strange land' shifts, the aliens learning about Earth in emotion-enhanced drips and drabs. Frankly, something like that is bound to fail. Murphy may have just been the creative catalyst to Meet Dave's formidable flopsweat, but he's not off the hook. He's just as important to its downfall as any other aspect of the production.
The Extras: Aside from an interview featurette with several of the cast, the Meet Dave DVD has no other bonus features to speak of. And that's not surprising, considering the film's commercial crash and burn this past Summer. Still, one wonders why some of those patented "kid friendly" bonuses weren't added - you know, mindless remote control games, trivia contests passing as educational entertainment. Apparently, even something like that was out of the question.