Imagine That
PG
Entertainment: +1
Acceptability: +4

Eddie Murphy, Thomas Haden Church, Nicole Ari Parker, Ronny Cox and Martin Sheen. Written by Ed Solomon & Chris Matheson. Directed by Karey Kirkpatrick.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Eddie Murphy stars as a successful financial executive who has more time for his Blackberry than his seven-year-old daughter (Yara Shahidi). When he has a crisis of confidence and his career starts going down the drain, however, he finds the solution to all his problems in his daughter's imaginary world.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Imagine an Eddie Murphy family comedy that makes you laugh a total of two times. Imagine a film about an overworked father and his all-seeing all-knowing daughter that has little to no charm. Then imagine a Hollywood release that desperately relies on the backup music score to let you know, “Hey, dummies, this is where you’re supposed to laugh.” And then imagine a movie that equally bores adults and kids alike.

To be fair, the screening audience laughed more than twice. But not much more. More than one prolonged “comic” tirade by Mr. Murphy and Mr. Haden Church was met with a silent indifference.

The story has the little girl going through a difficult time after her parents divorce. Now she has some imaginary friends. Only these make-believe pals don’t have tea parties with the youngster, but rather give her Wall Street trading tips. Say what?

Once her father suspects that she can predict the financial future, he does his best to placate both his daughter and the invisible mavens of money management. This is where hilarity is supposed to ensue. He follows the child around the house, pretending to talk to the invisible brokers, singing to them in a frog voice, dancing an embarrassing jig in public, and covering himself with her enchanted baby blanket while they summon up her make-believe friends for stocks advice. I admit that course of action could have set the satirical stage for the condition of our nation’s economic woes had this been a film with such aspirations. On top of that, however, some goof who claims to be a Native American attempts to take over our hero’s job by way of Hollywood’s take on Native American spiritualism. These boardroom exchanges are nonsensical, which I guess is supposed to pass as humorous. I found it tedious and several children squirming in their scenes must have agreed with my assessment.

In between all the nonsense, Eddie’s character learn a life lesson – the daughter is more important than the job. Now they make pancakes together. That scene is very funny. Well, I know that because the actors are just laughing their heads off amid burnt flapjacks and a messy kitchen, and that frantic score is reminding us once again, “Hey, dummies, this is where you’re supposed to laugh.”

Perhaps I have been spoiled lately. I saw Up and found a family film that was charming, funny, touching and creative. I saw The Taking of Pelham 123 and found a film that was tersely directed, smartly written, and containing two fully realized performances by its leads. And I keep slipping into the new Star Trek movie because it’s inventive, humorous and a pleasant addition to the sci-fi genre. For the briefest time period I was under the allusion that movies were designed to entertain us. Then reality raised its ugly head with this affront to family, comedy and our backsides (the film seems longer than 107 minutes).

The producers use the Beatles music book in an effort to inject some life into this zombie of a movie. By the time they got to All You Need is Love, I thought, yeah love and a script not written by an elementary school class.

What’s with Eddie Murphy? He’s a talented man, funny, hip, a good actor. Yet, lately he’s attempted to keep his star shining by making family-themed films such as The Adventures of Pluto Nash, I Spy, Daddy Day Care, The Haunted Mansion, Meet Dave and Norbit. One has to wonder if he actually reads these scripts before signing on. As Mr. Lincoln once said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” So beware Paramount, if you release this mess, I predict people will stop going to movies. Imagine that.

Okay, I was tough on this one. I expect more from Mr. Murphy and from Paramount. And so should you, since you’re the ones that have to pay to see it.To read about or order my new book, MOVIES: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE REALLY, REALLY BAD, go to our Home Page.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: A couple of minor expletives (hells), but I caught no obscene language.
Profanity: The expression “oh my god” is uttered a couple of times.
Violence: Some slapstick pratfalls and a car chase, but nothing excessive.
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: None
Other: None
Running Time: 107 minutes
Intended Audience: Families

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