Thu July 10, 2008
No so awful . . .
By John DeSando, WCBE's It's Movie Time
Two-inch aliens in a land of relative behemoths, us, is not a bad premise; after all, Jonathan Swift pulled it off with Gulliver's Travels, Lilliputians and Brobdinagians and all, tying down Gulliver and undoubtedly deflating his ego for good measure. Eddie Murphy's Captain is no classic literary hero, just another Captain Kirk working his way home with a miniature crew that changes when it reaches a new civilization, ours this time, absorbing our love, and endangering themselves as we do daily for it.
Well, you know why and how this all happens, so I have now made my point that the script and its plot are simpleminded, telegraphing emotion and twist with equal swiftness well before their time. That the mom Gina (Elizabeth Banks) will fall for the weird alien Captain, aka Dave, is a given; that her fatherless son (here we go again?the summer is rife with orphans) will bond with the alien is no surprise either. What does surprise, however, is that Murphy seems to restrain his strutting and mugging to digestible chunks, almost to the point of sweetness, making Dave a not so awful afternoon for a family.
As in any children's story or contemporary romcom, boy gets girl and good things get done. No different in Meet Dave where friendship, love, and a subtle hint at global politics nudge another tear for a wet summer. I'm not complaining because I'd much rather have a discernible theme, albeit a moral one, than none at all.
Strangely, the CGI here is not spectacular, just serviceable. I just am not comfortable with stereotyping gays or showing another It's A Wonderful Life clip to certify this film's schmaltz supremacy. The film and its director have not the courage to be bold, to go where no director has gone this summer = to honesty and humanity.
Murphy should go back to cop films. I'll be visiting Batman this week. So our American summer goes, looking strange and love-dangerous to little people from outer space such as Dave and Wall*E's Eve.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com