Monday, September 20, 2010

A Decade of Dreck #31: The Adventures of Pluto Nash

Charge Shot!!! is celebrating the end of the decade in the most masochistic way we know how - by watching and writing about the 100 worst movies of the last ten years as defined by film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Click here to see RT's complete list, click here for more about the Decade of Dreck project, and click here to see all of the movies we've done so far.

Eddie Murphy used to rule American pop culture; from stand-up, to movies, even to pop music Murphy's dominance was unquestioned. Then something happened and one day Eddie Murphy woke up to discover himself something of a punchline. Sometime around the mid-1990's, Murphy transformed from one of the baddest, most controversial, and groundbreaking comedians of his era to a star of lame family comedies involving fatsuits and multiple roles.

 In spite of this however, Murphy's films continued to make boffo box office despite their shittiness. Murphy is probably dead inside, but he's crying all the way to the bank. He may be a sellout, but he's a sellout whose movies rake in tons of money.

The Adventures of Pluto Nash is not one of those movies.

One of the biggest box office flops in cinematic history, Pluto Nash is an unmitigated disaster in every sense of the phrase in that is both a disaster without mitigation. Earning just over seven million dollars on its reported hundred million dollar budget, it was a prime example of just how badly a big budget studio picture with a bankable star can fail. And it's for good reason that it did. Remember those things I was saying about mitigating?

Pluto Nash spins the tale of its eponymous character, an interplanetary smuggler-turned-nightclub owner in the year 2087, having some adventures on the Moon. Basically, Murphy owns the hottest nightclub on Earth's sole natural satellite. How do we know its the hottest? They keep telling us! In truth the place looks like an utter shithole. Seriously, the sets in this movie look like they were reused from Total Recall. Also, they keep the house lights up the whole time in this place! Considering this takes place in the not-too-distant future where the Moon is the next frontier of human settlement, saying that Pluto Nash runs the hottest club on the Moon is tantamount to saying that Al Swearengen ran the hottest saloon in Deadwood.

A bunch of space mobsters, who look and act suspiciously like regular mobsters from a century before this story is set, try to buy out Nash's club to build a casino. He refuses and they blow it up, leading to Nash, a newly hired waitress played by Rosario Dawson, and Nash's android bodyguard (who we know is a robot because fugitive from justice Randy Quaid plays him by TALKING LIKE A ROBOT-HE IS TALKING LIKE A ROBOT) running for their lives and trying to stop the Moon mafia from killing them, which might be compelling if we cared.

As was said before, the sets and everything else in this movie look horrible, which makes one wonder where that hundred million dollar budget went. It's a given that most visions of the future in science fiction are going to reflect the era in which they were conceived. In this case, the future looks like a music video from the early aughts/late nineties.

The movie is also horrible for the simple fact that as a "comedy", it is assumed that it should be funny. Pluto Nash is not in any way funny. Have you ever watched one of those videos of a shitty network sitcom with the laughtrack removed? That's what this movie is like. Maybe it was meant to be a comedy in the premodern sense of the word, meaning that it simply has a happy ending instead of a tragic one. Dante would be proud.

For some reason, Pluto Nash didn't sink Eddie Murphy's career, which is why we have things like Meet Dave and Norbit to deal with. Murphy now has so much goddamn money from the Shrek Quadrilogy that he could bankroll a dozen Pluto Nashes over the course of the next decade and still swim in a giant room full of money Scrooge McDuck-style.

The Adventures of Pluto Nash is ranked #79 on the Rotten Tomatoes Worst 100 list with 6% freshness. Its RT page can be found here.