Tuesday, August 25, 2009

IMAGINE THAT - Murphy's 'Last Hurrah'?

IMAGINE THAT (fantasy comedy)
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Thomas Haden Church, Yara Shahidi, Nicole Ari Parker, Ronny Cox and Martin Sheen
Director: Karey Kirkpatrick
Time: 107 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)

Murphy and Yara Shahidi in IMAGINE THAT

PREAMBLE: We have heard of little children with imaginary friends that are often conjured up to keep them company, to help them get their parents' attention and get what they want. But have you heard of imaginary friends who give financial market tips? Imagine that??!!

Although the screenplay is not written by Eddie Murphy (it is scripted by Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson), this one may be another nail in the coffin for Murphy's career as a comedian. Watching Murphy in this insipid role only confirms that he is a washout. (According to Boxofficemojo, Imagine That opened on June 12, 2009 and grossed US$17,183,000 worldwide as of Aug 20. It was produced at US$55 million.)

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Like Game Plan and almost every other kiddie comedy these days, it is about spending more time with one's kids and redefining the meaning of success. Here, we have Murphy playing Evan Danielson, a financial analyst at a Denver investment firm that is about to undergo a major restructuring.

Evan's boss (Ronny Cox) plans to sell the company to Dante D'Enzo (Martin Sheen) who wants to incorporate it into his business empire. To run the newly restructured unit, D'Enzo initiates a contest between Evan and his colleague/rival, Johnny Whitefeather (Thomas Haden Church). Whoever impresses him the most will get the job.

Evan's situation is complicated by his seven-year old daughter, Olivia (Yara Shahidi), who is staying with
him for the week while her mother (Nicole Ari Parker) is engaged. Desperate for her father's attention, Olivia goes into her make-believe world and consults a group of princesses about how certain stocks and corporations will fare.

At first, Evan ignores her 'advice' but when
the predictions start coming true, he turns to the imaginary beings to help boost his career.

HITS & MISSES: I can't find anything I like about this movie except for the charming performance of Yara Shahidi. She steals the show whenever she is on-screen - and pulls the proverbial rug from under Murphy. Indeed, it is painful to see Murphy running all over the place looking for his daughter's security blanket.

Among the gags that kids under 10 may find funny is the one with Evan having to eat a pancake with oodles of ketchup and other sauces poured over it. And the year's most phoney performance has to be Church's attempts to play a 'native American'. Director Karey Kirkpatrick, making his live-action debut after 2006's Over the Hedge, must have targeted the movie for kids below 10.

THE LOWDOWN: Only for desperate parents trying to find a movie to take the kids to during this school holiday week.


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