Meet Dave (2008)

Rated: PG for bawdy and suggestive humor, action and some language.
Length: 90 minutes
Grade: AB+BB=A-
Budget: $60 million
Box Office: $51 million (12 U.S., 39 Intl.)

Written by: Rob Greenberg and Bill Corbett (Only TV for either of them before, including Mystery Science Theater)
Directed by: Brian Robbins, who has produced a ton of movies and TV in many genres and directed Norbit, Shaggy Dog, and Varsity Blues.
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Elizabeth Banks, Gabrielle Union, and Austin Myers.

An alien civilization of tiny humans is running out of energy, so they have sent a device to Earth to steal our ocean salt for energy, but it isn’t operational. So they send a tiny crew in a starship built to imitate a full-sized human, which then must find the device and restart it.

Entertainment Value: A
I did not expect much from this because it’s Eddie Murphy, whose recent spate of so-called family movies have been awful at best. But we were both genuinely impressed with this. Not only was the premise clever and the script very funny, but the acting by Murphy is almost so good that you wonder how he did it. He so perfectly portrays a robot/spaceship/awkward person that it would have been creepy if it hadn’t been so hilarious. I have no idea why this did so poorly at the box office. This is the first non-animated family movie I’ve seen in a long time that I really enjoyed.

Superficial Content: B+
Drugs/Alcohol B, Sex/Nudity A, Violence B+, Language B, Illegality B+
This is just barely PG in my opinion. Some of the concerns involve a sequence with a shootout at a police station (nobody is hurt) and another involving a foiled convenience store robbery. Dave is hit by a car and sent flying, but this happens after we already know that he’s a spaceship, so it’s not particularly disturbing. There is some mild bullying, people become inebriated on mojitos, a couple of minor profanities including a cut-off “What the,” and one character who is implied to be homosexual (he behaves in stereotypical effeminate ways with a lisp and a love for musical theater, but no actual sexuality is ever addressed).

Significant Content: B
Being human requires more than just biological features. It’s about having emotions, being different, and being yourself. Size is a misleading indicator of strength and ability. Even small people can do big stuff.

Artistic/Thought Value: B
Not so much because it’s a real thinker, but more because it’s just such an enjoyable movie for what it was: a family comedy.

Discussion Questions:
~Why is it that we don’t make spaceships in the shape of ourselves? Why don’t we make planes, trains, or automobiles in our own image? Are our bodies so ill-suited to such purposes, or are our bodies simply too complicated to imitate?
~Why do you suspect this movie didn’t make very much money at the box office?
~Does Gina’s willingness to let Dave into her life and her apartment seem odd to you in New York City or in America at all in 2008? Was she being foolish or reckless? Should we be more hospitable to people than we are? Why aren’t we?
~The Nilians seem primarily transformed by embracing a more emotional sort of life. Do you think that most Americans would do well to be more, less, or about as emotional as they are right now? How important is emotion to our humanity? What is the Christian perspective on this? Does God love passion?
~Given that it seems to be jeopardizing his own planet and his mission to make the choices he does, what do you think of the Captain’s decisions?
~Disobeying rules or orders completely baffles the Nilians. How are obedience and disobedience related to being human?
Overall Grade: A-
The concept was very well-executed, and made me chuckle repeatedly. I love being able to reward a genuinely fun family comedy. However, I will note for your benefit that every review I read disagreed with me, essentially finding this a boring and not at all innovative movie. Nonetheless, they’re all wrong, and I am right.

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