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If you're an eight-year-old boy who's never heard of E.T. or Liar Liar, then Meet Dave might be your new favoritest movie of all time. On a mission to save his dying planet of miniature aliens, the captain of a human-shaped spaceship (both played by Eddie Murphy) flies to Earth, befriending perky widow Gina (Elizabeth Banks) and her meek son Josh (Austyn Lind Myers). As directed by the none-too-subtle Brian Robbins (Norbit, The Shaggy Dog), Meet Dave is aimed squarely at prepubescent boys — the mixture of sci-fi, broad physical comedy, and absent-father sentiment will prove irresistible, although they might gag at the schmaltzy love story. What keeps the film surprisingly likable is a game cast led by Murphy, who sustains more laughs from the moth-eaten Starman conceit than it deserves. Murphy's questionable recent career choices notwithstanding, the guy remains a gifted comedian, and his performance as the spaceship "Dave" — his body a foreign vessel awkwardly trying to interact with jaded Manhattanites — possesses the sort of inspired glee he hasn't demonstrated since Bowfinger. Still, Meet Dave feels a little too cuddly and familiar to be more than a programmatic summer kids' movie — better than average, but not worth phoning home about.

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Tim Grierson
Contact: Tim Grierson