- Movie: The Adventures of Pluto Nash
- Directors: Ron Underwood
- Starring: Eddie Murphy, Randy Quaid, Rosario Dawson, Jay Mohr, Joe Pantoliano
- Rotten Tomatoes rating: 5%
A Little Context
The Adventures of Pluto Nash came out during an interesting time in Eddie Murphy’s career. Released in 2002, he was fresh off of voicing Donkey in Shrek. While that movie was fantastic, Murphy’s live action career had been dwindling. Doctor Doolittle and its sequel, Nutty Professor 2, Holy Man, Life…despite none of these movies being as critically acclaimed as Nutty Professor in 1996, only Holy Man and Life didn’t make money at the box office. Which, knowing Hollywood, is all that really matters. So obviously the next step is to take the biggest gamble yet and spend 100 million on a science fiction action/comedy led by Eddie Murphy. The end result is one of the worst box office bombs ever. Pluto Nash only made back 7% of it’s cost.
Take a look at this trailer and you can see why. And spoiler alert if you for some reason care, the big reveal of the movie is in the trailer. That always blows my mind.
To be honest, I wanted this movie to be worse. A complete train-wreck of a movie would have at least been more interesting to watch. Biggest issue The Adventures of Pluto Nash has is how terribly bland and generic it is. This movie is the film equivalent of asking for a cookie, and then being shown a round cookie cutter. Not only is it not nearly as satisfying as the actual cookie (a good film), but it’s not even an interesting looking cookie cutter. Assuming that analogy didn’t make perfect sense, let’s break this down:
The first thing I want to touch on here is the overall world building and design. Blade Runner this is not. Nothing in Pluto Nash feels organic. It becomes pretty clear pretty quickly that setting this movie in the future just meant that the designers and writers could just get away with wacky stuff. It’s the difference between “what would a space suit actually look like in the future?” and “wouldn’t it be cool if they each had differently colored space suits?” There is no logic or consistency with anything. Things just are or things just happen simply because “it’s the future and who cares.” This problem seems nit-picky, but it matters. When a movie feels inauthentic, regardless of the genre, it’s hard to care about anything. It’s like you’re watching a cartoon.
From a visual standpoint Pluto Nash is just kind of ugly. Despite all the bright colors things just kind of turn into this weird grey/brown blob in your head. Like a colorful but dark tunnel. Nothing ever looks as interesting as it’s supposed to. Backgrounds look like they were built using remnants of some weird theme park “Land of the Future.” Every location looks like a set and outfits look like they belong in a Saturday Night Live sketch set in the future. Remember how beautiful that sunrise looked in Blade Runner after we get neon signs and dark streets? Well you’ll get none of that here. Instead, after this movie is over you’ll just feel like you haven’t been outside in 48 hours.
Eddie Murphy basically plays Eddie Murphy here. Inexplicably nonchalant but ready for anything. Always cool. He either already has or can quickly come up with a plan. He was a smuggler is basically the only explanation we’re given. A black Han Solo I guess. The problem is that this movie isn’t really all that funny, and it’s not good enough to get away with being just an action movie. Things just kind of happen for an hour and a half and then you’re done. You want to laugh occasionally but you wont. Rosario Dawson is solid but doesn’t really stand out. It’s never really clear if she’s supposed to be the love interest of the movie. Her character is the daughter of one of Pluto Nash’s friends so it seems like it might be a protector/mentor thing…but then sometimes it seems like they’re interested in each other… It’s like they couldn’t quite figure out which way to go so we get some weird middle. Regardless, the chemistry between the two actors feels forced so it doesn’t really matter what they are. It’s just awkward to watch.
Unfortunately there really isn’t much more to say about this movie without really going into individual scenes. The Adventures of Pluto Nash is just kind of… there. It’s generic. It’s bland. It makes you want out. Without having seen it before, you will feel like you’ve seen it before. I know you can break down most stories into some kind of trite, simplistic formula, but good stories have at least something that is compelling–a unique element, a good character, fantastic world-building, etc. Pluto Nash has nothing fresh.
But Can I Drink To It?
You will need to. This movie is bland. Alcohol will help.
Rules (to get you hammered)
1. Eddie Murphy looks “cool” - DRINK for 3 seconds!
2. A robot is weirdly horny - DRINK for 5 seconds!
3. Alec Baldwin?! – finish your DRINK!
4. The kiss-me-so-the-bad-guys-don’t-see-us cliche - DRINK as long as it happens!
I watched The Adventures of Pluto Nash on Amazon Instant for $3. There is a DVD you can buy for $30, but I don’t know why you’d want to.
Post by: Tyler P.
Tyler Phillippi is a former improviser and musician. Now, he mainly focuses on getting through his Netflix queue. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org