Entertainment

Hi, Murphy shtick; meet unoriginal comedy

Essentially phoning in the broad, family friendly shtick that has become his trademark over the past decade, Eddie Murphy stars as both a human-sized spaceship that has landed on Earth and its itty-bitty captain, who is at the controls from inside the ship's head.

It's a high-concept premise, but the execution is mostly lowbrow. Director Brian Robbins, whose “Norbit” with Murphy last year looks like a bold slice of comic genius by comparison, runs through a variety of bland, fish-out-of-water scenarios in workmanlike fashion.

Dave, as the spaceship awkwardly names himself once he figures out how to speak, must navigate the streets of New York as part of his plan to drain Earth of all its water and bring the salt back to his own planet. This requires him to hail cabs, go clothes shopping and eventually enter a hot-dog eating contest – which leads to the obligatory bathroom gag afterward. Murphy's keen mimicry skills come in handy when the character meets new people and copies their behavior in hopes of blending in; it's good for a couple of laughs.

At first, the captain and the other tiny beings who keep Dave running think this place is crude and confusing, which allows the film to take some obvious stabs at the absurdity of pop culture. But, gosh, wouldn't you know it? In time, they'll realize humanity isn't such a cesspool after all.

The infinitely likable Elizabeth Banks goes completely to waste as Gina, the human who befriends him after accidentally hitting him with her car.

But while everyone thinks Dave is kind of a weirdo for the stiff, halting way he moves and talks, Gina's young son, Josh (Austyn Lynd Myers), sees the potential for good in him from the start. Likewise, kids in the audience will probably enjoy watching Murphy walk in herky-jerky style down the street and giggle at the physicality of his many misadventures.

Sure, they'll have fun. But they deserve better.

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