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Meet Dave, I got a bad feeling about this.

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Meet Dave, I got a bad feeling about this.

Old 07-11-08, 01:20 PM
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The initial screenplay was co-written by one of the MST3K/Rifftrax Bill Corbett, and he has addressed this movie on his Rifftrax blog:

I’m in West Virginia this week on a family reunion, and it’s from this very un-Hollywood-ish corner of the U.S.A. that I watch as a movie called MEET DAVE opens nationwide tomorrow.

I wrote it, under its original title STARSHIP DAVE, along with my dear pal and occasional writing partner Rob Greenberg. That is, we wrote the original draft, and some subsequent drafts… and our names are the sole writers listed, for better or worse. As is very typical in the land of Jiminy Glick, however, a bunch of other writers have romped through the script as well.

As of this date I haven’t seen the movie. Really, all I’ve seen are the trailers everyone else has seen. I skipped the official premiere on Tuesday because of these longstanding family plans. Not an act of protest, per se. Things just got mucked up when the opening was switched from late May to mid July. But I was very happy not to be there, truth be told. It didn’t seem my like idea of a good time, my powder-blue prom tuxedo has long since ceased to fit, and I probably would have tripped on the red carpet and accidentally killed one of the lovely ladies in the cast. Scandal, disgrace, prison… so you see my point, I’m sure.

I might do a longer post sometime about the whole experience of writing and developing the movie, if enough people are interested. …Though even that would be almost 100% free of celeb gossip / dishing, and therefore might be a disappointing read.

But for now, I wanted to throw out some thoughts and assorted tidbits before seeing the movie, lest it seem like I’m retconning later on. In absolutely no order:

1) A bunch of people have asked me if I like the title change. I don’t. It’s beyond generic… it’s actually repetitive of a smaller movie released earlier this year. But I made my case, and after that it was out of my hands. It ain’t the end of the world, really. Just thought ours was more fun.

And I actually do understand the reasons for it. One of those reasons surprised me: according to the studios, ANY hint of sci-fi immediately means a pretty high percentage of the populace won’t show up. Bizarre to me and many of you, I’m sure. But (apparently) true. And yeah, I’m guessing it didn’t help that one of Mr. Murphy’s least-loved movies — critically murdered, and a box office pain-fest — was his previous sci-fi comedy.

2) My pal and writing partner Rob took almost a perverse pleasure in going on IMDB.com for months before the opening, and seeing all the vitriol lining up against the movie. I’d rather take an acid bath, myself, but… one theme he kept seeing from the Comic Book Guy-types there is that this isn’t an original idea.

Quite right, actually. It wasn’t wholly original, like just about everything else, ever. In fact, I originally pitched the general idea as something for the SciFi.com site years ago, but we went with EDWARD THE LESS instead. When I revived it as a movie idea and explained the general premise to Rob, I listed every single “little people inside big people” movie or TV show that preceded. So yeah, we understood that it wasn’t made out of whole cloth. Few things are.

What I thought was different here was the fact that we were basically placing a Star Trek-like crew inside a body to go exploring Earth. So the difference was mostly one of scale — we decided to take the idea to the Nth degree, with an entire crew inside, and make a movie of it.

3) It’s a comedy aimed at kids. “Hard” sci-fi devotees will not like it, and should not expect to like it. This movie can’t give you what you need, friends.

It wasn’t always aimed so squarely at the younger population. But this is a fundamentally silly premise. We know that. Add to it the fact that Rob and I each had two kids in the last five years, and we were amenable to pushing it in that direction. It may not be the height of sophistication, but I do hope there are still pleasures for non-small people… like the original Bugs Bunny cartoons, which kept both kids and their parents plenty amused. But we will see.

4) As of this writing I have no idea how the movie will play, all in all. I really don’t. It’s a very weird experience, writing for Hollywood at this level. Part of me is proud and wants to own this movie, promote it, generally celebrate it and look forward to all the possibilities that may emerge from the experience. And an equally real part of me wants to lock myself in a dark room for a month and pretend it never happened.

…Why the latter? Because the truth is that I had not a bit of control over the final product, and Hollywood does tend to suckify things. Often quite badly. In fact, there was a week of writing done AFTER the last draft Rob and I submitted, and that’s a scary prospect. This is not a slam on whoever did the last week of writing, whose name I don’t know, and who may have improved the whole thing immensely. It’s the not knowing that’s bizarre.

Likewise, I’d freely admit that not all of the notes we got over the ridiculously long process of developing the movie (though apparently speedy by Hollywood standards, especially given a studio change from Paramount to Fox at one point) were bad. Some were great, some were O.K., and many were just blather. The real problem is a too-many-cooks thing — when a movie tries to fulfill everyone’s “vision” (ahem) simultaneously, even when the visions contradict each other, well… you get most Hollywood movies, sadly. The system is broken, and even with the best of intentions on most people’s part it tends to produce dookie. I have no idea how you’d fix that, given that movies are first and foremost a big business. But I know that it would have to involve more artistic risk…. especially in terms of doing simple comedies, which are very delicate little critters. Load too much on them, and they just get smushed.

That said…

5) This may be the most disappointing item of all, in terms of juiciness: most of the people Rob and I worked with along the way were pleasant, and many of them had excellent ideas. It’s just that there were too many of them “fixing” this simple comedy.

I’m hoping that the original silly joy of the thing still survives, and even thrives. But I also didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, so I’m prepared for anything. Bring it, Universe!

6) Will we riff on this movie? I’d actually love to. “When the Riffer becomes the Riffed.” Perfect.

BUT — and this is a big one — we avoid comedies like the plague. Take a look at our catalogue, and you’ll see what I mean. We’ve tried it before, and it really doesn’t work very well for our purposes. You’re often reduced to variations on a snotty “well, that wasn’t funny” over and over again. True as it might be, even for MEET DAVE, it might not make a very funny Rifftrax. If we can’t make something more funny, we tend to pass.

But we’ll see. Maybe we can do some hybrid riff / commentary / give Bill a boatload of grief track.

7) Rifftraxes aside, nobody on this site should feel constrained from speaking freely about the movie. Lord knows I’ve dished out enough on other movies over the years, so MEET DAVE is fair game just like anything else. Snark away, if you will. I won’t protest. Have at it.

Lastly, I leave you with this, an image emblematic of an interesting but absurd few years. It’s a picture of my wife’s cousin Erin at a Braves game in Atlanta, where she lives…. and where a giant fake Eddie Murphy head traveled as part of its nationwide tour.
Old 07-11-08, 01:23 PM
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hey brian orndorf thought it was better than wall-e!
Old 07-11-08, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by riotinmyskull
hey brian orndorf thought it was better than wall-e!
That shouldn't come as a surprise given his "taste".
Old 07-11-08, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by riotinmyskull
hey brian orndorf thought it was better than wall-e!
I just saw that too. My jaw is still on the floor. He really shouldn't drink before reviewing movies.
Old 07-12-08, 02:25 AM
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WAAAAH. Brian Orndof hated Wall-E, but thought Meet Dave was watchable. WAAAAH. May he burn in hell!

Jesus Christ.

As I've said before, The O is one of the few reviewers on DVD Talk I trust. I feel that's easily apparent for the fact he was the only one to give Hellboy II a good review.

Just because he didn't like Wall-E and Juno doesn't mean he's the worst reviewer of all time.

Like I'd bet good money the dialog is more realistic in Meet Dave then in Juno.
Old 07-12-08, 03:02 AM
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Wall-E....damn robots. There hasn't been a small cool robot since R2D2, though lots have tried since then.
Old 07-12-08, 03:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Matthew Chmiel
Just because he didn't like Wall-E and Juno...
And pretty much every other good film to come out (except "Hellboy 2".)

But in complete seriousness, I don't really read his reviews on a regular enough basis to form much of an opinion. I know I strongly disagreed with him about "Wall-E", and "Juno", and "Paranoid Park" (which makes me a "pretentious nutjob with my head up the director's backside" or something to that extent, but whatever), and quite a few others. But there's no critic I agree with 100% of the time. And, of course, there have been quite a few times that I've agreed with his opinion - it's just that that's not nearly as fun to talk about as the times when his opinion is deeply, ragingly wrong.

Anyways, I'd rather read A.O. Scott, or Ebert, or a number of other critics - but Orndorf doesn't seem any worse than most Tomatometer critics.

And he's not Armond White, which is a huge (huge) plus.

Last edited by Sondheim; 07-12-08 at 03:21 AM.
Old 07-12-08, 09:33 AM
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We're having Bill Corbett on our show this week (he's a Minnesota guy), so hopefully we'll have a lively discussion about this.

I agree it looks awful, and Murphy should stick to Dreamgirls-like roles for awhile.
Old 07-12-08, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by me12321
I know I strongly disagreed with him about "Wall-E", and "Juno", and "Paranoid Park" (which makes me a "pretentious nutjob with my head up the director's backside" or something to that extent, but whatever)
Sheesh, that's not even an accurate quote from the review. If you must take a cheap shot, at least be fair.

Originally Posted by Matthew Chmiel
WAAAAH. Brian Orndof hated Wall-E, but thought Meet Dave was watchable. WAAAAH. May he burn in hell!

Jesus Christ.

As I've said before, The O is one of the few reviewers on DVD Talk I trust. I feel that's easily apparent for the fact he was the only one to give Hellboy II a good review.

Just because he didn't like Wall-E and Juno doesn't mean he's the worst reviewer of all time.

Like I'd bet good money the dialog is more realistic in Meet Dave then in Juno.
QFT.

I can't believe you babies have dragged out this Wall-E situation this long. Yeah, he didn't like the movie, and he backed it up with an interesting review which clearly stated his concerns. All the boards here have been doing is lobbing personal insults. Are the mods asleep?

The O is a great addition around here, and while I don't always AGREE with him, I respect his writing. He's no sheep-like critic, and typically offers an entertaining analysis to back up his grades. I would rather have O around that most of the DVD Talk critics, that's for sure.

And why do I write such love? Because I'm his mother! I joke of course...It's because I saw Meet Dave last night with my kids. I thought it was a fun movie, and not worthy of the scorn a majority of the press has flung at it just because of Murphy's name. I hated the potty humor and the film's outrageous corporate plugs (O really should've mentioned this is his review), but when it gets going, it's actually an entertaining sci-fi adventure with a few laughs. And my kids? They loved it.

O wrote a fairly accurate review of the movie, and most here have slammed him and the film without seeing it. But that wouldn't be the DVD Talk movie forum way, right? Why try to understand when you can take cheap, unmoderated shots for no reason.

Seriously, everyone get a grip. Meet Dave isn't for everybody, but I think it'll find some fans once people stop judging it based on Murphy and actually see it.

Oh yeah...and fuck Juno.
Old 07-12-08, 02:02 PM
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Soo.... it looks like this will be the biggest major flop of the year,

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