Meet Dave

Starring Eddie Murphy and Elizabeth Banks. Rated G.

Just how much you’re going to appreciate Eddie Murphy’s Meet Dave depends on what you expect. Of all the wildly variable stuff that Murphy churns out, this tale of space aliens landing on earth is closest in spirit to Daddy Day Care and Doctor Dolittle. (Look elsewhere if you just can’t get enough of the trash talk he spews in the truly awful Norbit.) It helps if you’re not old enough to remember all the familiar bits director Brian Robbins regurgitates from chestnuts like Starman and Innerspace. This is a comedy aimed squarely at your average nine-year-old.

Meet Dave concerns a bunch of tiny aliens who control the title character—a life-sized robot that looks just like Eddie Murphy. The ineffectual aliens who sit inside the head of Dave and control all his functions may initially make you think you’re watching a strange hybrid movie called Honey I Shrunk the Crew From Star Trek: The Next Generation. The captain—played by Eddie Murphy—even mimics the accent of Patrick Stewart. If you can accept a tiny version of Eddie coolly commanding a malfunctioning mechanical version of Eddie, swallowing the simple plot should be no problem.

The crew’s mission involves recovering a special orb that could save their planet. The orb is in the possession of a shy boy named Josh (Austyn Myers) who lives with his mom (Elizabeth Banks). In order to recover the orb, the crew must figure out a way for the hapless Dave to make friends with Josh. It’s all way too predictable. Still, it’s hard to argue with the inevitably sweet message of universal brotherhood. Meet Dave may not be the greatest way to spend a summer afternoon, but Eddie Murphy’s next film just might prove that your kid could do a lot worse.