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The Adventures of Pluto Nash

01/10/2002. Contributed by Frank Ochieng

Buy The Adventures of Pluto Nash in the USA - or Buy The Adventures of Pluto Nash in the UK

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Frank puts his feet up for the space-aged spoof 'The Adventures of Pluto Nash', only to discover this film is about as funny as an asteroid stuck up one's rectum.

Film review by Frank Ochieng
Date Released: 08/16/2002
Rated: PG-13 (for violence, sexual humor and language)
Length: 95 minutes
Produced by: Martin Bregman, Michael Bregman and Louis A. Stroller
Directed by: Ron Underwood
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Randy Quaid, Rosario Dawson, Jay Mohr, Joe Pantoliano, Luis Guzman, Peter Boyle, Burt Young, Pam Grier, John Cleese, James Rebhorn
Distributor: Warner Bros.

So after over two long years of gathering dust on the shelves at Warner Bros., someone decided to finally release on an unsuspecting moviegoing public the wasteful and hideously monotonous futuristic farce "The Adventures of Pluto Nash"?

The Adventures of Pluto NashWell, here goes our snappy question of disbelief: Why?

And to make matters worse in addition to force-feeding this interminably meager and mawkish Eddie Murphy space-aged crime comedy on an unaware paying audience, the studio purposely didn't show an advance screening of this unfunny, flatulent flick (thank goodness for small favors) to critics for fear that a negative word would get out therefore persuading folks not to view this 95-minute wacky outer space ordeal.

In hindsight, we should actually applaud the film's distributor for holding back this moon-based misfire in the first place (the "official" albeit lame reason for "Pluto Nash's" late arrival: the visual effects weren't up to snuff and too complicated). Still, the mystifying thing about the atrocity that is "The Adventures of Pluto Nash" is the puzzling question as to why this project attracted so many notable names in the first place?

Did someone's Mercedes have to be paid off immediately or something? Plus, knowing that a dependable director such as Ron Underwood (who had a good track record with immensely enjoyable fare such as "City Slickers" and "Tremors" ) helmed this shoddy and garishly galactic bomb.

Hence, it makes it that more agonizing to fathom. In terms of Murphy's participation in this sparse and snickering space spoof, who's REALLY that much surprised about his involvement? After all, Murphy's film career hasn't exactly been something to behold lately unless he dons a freakish fat suit while leaning on the continued success of his ongoing "Nutty Professor" persona.

The painful premise takes place on the moon circa 2087. There, an ex con/smuggler named Pluto Nash (Murphy), has a smooth nightclub operation that he proudly has running in an efficient manner.

But then the honeymoon period is soon abruptly interrupted when a riff raffish character (Joe Pantoliano) and his unruly and odd sidekick (Victor Varnado) try to strongarm Pluto into turning over his moneymaking business to a ruthless yet mysterious Mafia moon-goon type named Rex Crater.

The reclusive Crater, we're told, is a big shot who oversees all the legalized gambling activities in his section of the solar system. And as one might expect, saying no to this unseen galaxy-based Godfather means precariously turning up on the other side of the Milky Way - with a laser beam tattooed in your skull.

The defiant Pluto ends up refusing an offer he shouldn't have refused. As a result, Crater and his cronies shoot up Pluto's joint while forcing the savvy nightclub owner, his robotic bodyguard (Randy Quaid) and his newly-hired, hot-looking waitress/singer (Rosario Dawson, "Men In Black II") to run for cover.

Predictably, Pluto Nash and his followers find themselves ducking and dodging the likes of Crater's entourage as the trio contemplate tracking down the elusive Mafioso mastermind as a measure of revenge. In the meanwhile, Pluto and the singer start to develop a romantic bond throughout the whole chaotic chase from one lunar landscape to the next.

The screenplay, written by Neil Cuthbert ("Mystery Men", "Hocus Pocus"), does little to instill any campy imagination into this relentlessly joyless and wretched fiasco. Overall, the film incorporates a flagrantly generic and jittery retro-look where the production design looks as if it were bought wholesale from a "Lost in Space" auction some time back.

As for the costumes, they aren't all that flashy or impressive period. In fact, we've seen better "out-of-this-world" wardrobe on the disco club dance floors during the polyester age of the seventies. The dialogue is mercilessly lame and childish with its usual dose of boring and crude body part jokes.

The slapstick, sad to say, is regarded as lethargic thanks to the woefully uninspired material being put forth. Underwood's direction of this colossally dumb vehicle is overwhelmingly staggering and convincingly underdeveloped.

Even the film's star Eddie Murphy seems tied down by the triteness of this dispiriting dud. There are selective moments where Murphy is restrained by the goings-on of this cockeyed cosmic comedy and other instances where the comic actor engages in constantly mugging for the camera (which is VERY tiring I might add).

As for why Murphy opted to appear in this vacuous vehicle? Who knows ... maybe there was a chance he could duplicate the sci-fi sauciness demonstrated by Will Smith in his surprisingly popular but loopy alien-infested 1997 comedy "Men In Black"? Or maybe Murphy was simply grateful for showing up on the big screen where he gets to headline a whole new genre that obviously had all the steadiness and dependability of an icy rocket launching pad? I guess another "Doctor Dolittle" film looks mighty good right about now, huh Eddie?

The supporting cast doesn't exactly escape the scrutiny either. Quaid's turn as Murphy/Pluto Nash's android protector is utterly embarrassing and pointless.

Dawson, whose sole yet useful purpose in the film was to provide that incurable need for posing as hormonal eyecandy bait, doesn't get to do too much other than gawk at Murphy as if his Pluto Nash was some precious planetary playboy or something. Both Jay Mohr (as a Sinatra-type crooner) and John Cleese (doing the mechanical droll driver bit) mildly come off as amusing to offset the otherwise stale smirkiness of this debacle.

To see the still delicious-looking Pam Grier as the mother of lunar lunkhead Nash is a bittersweet feeling; you're glad that she's finding acting gigs to keep her actively busy but left wondering whether or not she was that desperate enough financially or artistically to partake in this spaced-out nonsense?

"The Adventures of Pluto Nash" is an inane, tacky and stultifying experience for anyone to endure. Gee, talking about a meteoric miscalculation!

Whether you come away from this laughless and unforgivable exposition shaking your head, ask yourself one main question: what did you ever do to deserve this idiotic rocket-sized ruse?

Frank rates this film: * star (out of 4 stars)

Frank Ochieng

(c) Frank Ochieng 2002

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