Cast: Eddie Murphy, Elizabeth Banks, Gabrielle Union, Scott Caan, Ed Helms, Kevin Hart, Austyn Lind Myers.
Dave is a spaceship in the facsimile of Eddie Murphy in a white suit. Eddie Murphy is also the captain of the spaceship, whose crew looks perfectly human but are all around an inch-and-a-half tall. He chose the name Dave because he wants to blend in where he has just landed, in New York City. Actually he chose the name Ming Chang for the same reason. His cultural research officer has found it’s the most common name on Earth. Meet Dave Ming Chang.
Meet Dave is one of the funniest sci-fi comedies since Galaxy Quest.
Apart from his initial fish-out-of-water difficulties in making his body and his social interactions look normal – which he does by mimicry, with hilarious results - Dave is an inoffensive chap. He’s purpose-designed to recover a water-absorbing meteorite orb sent earlier to Earth. Friendly by design and not instinct, these aliens are evidently so scientifically advanced they’ve forgotten about sexual chemistry and the warmth of human connection. Most of them seem to be nerdy scientists who can deal with abstract physics but not the physical or emotional. One exception is the cultural research officer, No. 3 (the luscious Gabrielle Union), whose heart seems more susceptible to romance, especially where the captain is concerned. The visitors don’t think much of the monstrously gigantic Earth people, who seem moreover to be destroying their own environment and each other quite fast. It’s the main reason they’re quite willing to destroy them all when the orb drains all Earth’s water for the salt they need for their own planet’s survival. One hopes these scientists are not wholly representative of their race or they’d need more than salt to ensure survival, through arts of procreation they’ve apparently lost.
Not unlike a few other sci-fi adventure films since the Flood, the visitors become seduced by the incongruous complexity of human beings, their generosity, good-heartedness, courage and most of all, the funky soul music of the 70s. One of the crew (Scott Caan) bursts humorously out of the closet purely on the delights of these high-camp melodies. In the short time they have to complete their mission before Dave’s power runs out, Dave meets Gina (Elizabeth Banks) when she runs into him with her car. She’s the widowed mother of Josh (Austyn Lind Myers), through whose window and into whose fishbowl the orb first fell. Friendship with these two is the thin edge of the wedge in the diverting of the visitors’ mission, and not every member of the crew is equally smitten by humans. In particular, the hysterically anal and aptly named No.2 (Ed Helms) becomes increasingly mutinous.
Each of the characters has a full character arc, and one of the best things about this entertaining comedy is that each race learns something of real value from the other. And if the turning point of the plot is the corniest part of the movie, the rest of this comical feast more than makes up for it. Its brilliant sight gags and good feeling should stay with you quite a while.
© Avril Carruthers 29th June 2008
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