Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review: "Pluto Nash" Harmless and Funny Box Office Disaster


TRASH IN MY EYE No. 200 (of 2004) of Leroy Douresseaux

The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)
Running time: 95 minutes (1 hour 35 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for violence, sexual humor, and language
DIRECTOR: Ron Underwood
WRITER: Neil Cuthbert
PRODUCERS: Martin Bregman, Michael Scott Bregman, and Louis A. Stroller
EDITORS: Alan Heim and Paul Hirsch


Starring: Eddie Murphy, Randy Quaid, Rosario Dawson, Joe Pantoliano, Jay Mohr, Luis Guzmán, James Rebhorn, Peter Boyle, Burt Young, Miguel A. Núñex, Jr., Pam Grier, John Cleese, Victor Varnado, and Illeana Douglas with Alec Baldwin

In the future, an ex-con named Pluto Nash (Eddie Murphy) takes a dive and turns it into the hottest bar on the moon, Club Pluto. However, when he resists the local mafia’s demands to buy him out, they blow up Club Pluto and put out a far-reaching contract on his life. Now, to save his business and his life, Nash, a beautiful young employee named Dina Lake (Rosario Dawson), and Nash’s loyal robot bodyguard, Bruno (Randy Quaid), rush to discover the who, what, and where on the mafia boss with the initials MZM, before the hit men kill them.

Although released in the late summer of 2002, The Adventures of Pluto Nash was finished in 2000. When the film was finally released, it earned just under $4.5 million on its $100 million budget, the biggest budget to gross loss to date. Still, I have a feeling that Warner Bros. Pictures bailed on the film. It’s not as bad the box office failure indicates, not even close. In terms of Pluto Nash’s concept and production values, it is retro, archaic even. The last time a big studio movie looked like The Adventures of Pluto Nash, it was Total Recall. Pluto Nash is the kind of faux sci-fi that might have gone over better in the 80’s. In fact, the science fiction setting seems arbitrarily chosen; the plot and story would work quite well set in the present day. Heck, this could have been set in Prohibition and been the sequel to Harlem Nights, and like the much maligned Harlem Nights, I really like this.

As it is, Pluto Nash is a funny, goofy comedy. It’s not a very good Eddie Murphy movie; in fact, the film isn’t specifically an Eddie Murphy film because the script isn’t really geared towards his film personality. However, Murphy is funny and loose in this low rent crime comedy. It’s a slapstick and chase comedy, and, as an actor, he does more than just go through the motions.

There is, however, something awkward and mishandled about this film, and it’s hard for me to place my finger on it. The problems start from the conception all the way through the final execution and completion of the project. Still, I enjoyed it for Murphy, some cute moments, and a nice supporting cast that include a small appearance by Pam Grier (sorely underutilized here) and a cameo by Alec Baldwin, who would have made this movie had his part been enlarged. But besides Murphy, I love this most of all because of Rosario Dawson; beautiful, sexy, and possessing a bright screen personality that lights up any scene in which she appears, I’d see a The Adventures of Pluto Nash part two for her.

6 of 10



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