Adventures of Pluto Nash, The

Reviewed By Scott Weinberg
Posted 02/02/03 14:18:34

"Yes, it's bad, but gimme a BREAK! I see 20 movies a year that are worse!"
3 stars (Average)

There's nothing that pisses a movie critic off like a film unscreened for the press. Obviously one can assume such a flick is NOT supported confidently by its studio, so the buzzards start flying with amazing predictability. Nothing's as delicious as an easy target. The Adventures of Pluto Nash is NOT a particularly good movie, but I suspect most critics were more interested in the expansive budget than the flick's few (but clearly noticeable) assets.

This is one weird flick. It's slick and colorful, yet it's also clumsy and essentially devoid of solid laughs. It features an eclectic cast of supporting players, though it gives them very little to do. A few segments seem surprisingly inspired, while many more just lie there listless. It's got the crisp visual palette of a very expensive kid's flick, but there's also an odd devotion to intermittently leering sex humor. The Adventures of Pluto Nash is clumsy, sloppily edited, and completely schizophrenic.

It's also paced quite breezily, the special effects are flashy and satisfying, the production design is completely cool, and lead Eddie Murphy delivers an enjoyably laid-back performance.

Surely I can see why so few critics like this one, but c'mon! There's no WAY this is any worse than most of the mega-grossing FX spectacles we're given every freakin' summer. Again, I just think this bizarre misfire offered too simple a whipping boy, and Warner Bros. certainly didn't do anything to help the film's chances.

The plot is convoluted and simplistic at the same time: all you need know is that Pluto Nash is a club-owner on the run after the Moon mafia blows his business sky high. Toss in ten or twelve familiar faces, a handful of awkward-yet-flashy action sequences, and a kickin' goofball musical score, and you have a movie that any 14-year-old boy could love.

Which I assume is why I sorta enjoyed big chunks of this movie: Jay Mohr only has a few scenes, but each one offers at least two solid laughs. (I can read them back to you if you like.) Randy Quaid delivers one of the universe's truly arcane acting performances as security robot Bruno. I can't tell if Quaid's on his game, or if he's offering the worst performance of his career - but the character is pretty amusing so no harm, no foul.

Like many of you, I love to rent the mega-dogs to see how bad they truly are. As far as Rollerball and Battlefield Earth go, I'm in accord with the planet: these movies are the pinnacle of suck. But we gotta part company on The Adventures of Pluto Nash, a movie that's clearly a big sloppy mess - but there's no way it deserved such a horrific thrashing while so many other deserving dungheaps get left off the hook.

Kinda sad that this endearingly strange flick will be remembered as one of the "worst ever", yet XXX is considered a good movie because it was profitable.

I'm not really surprised that this one tickled me a bit: I'm a longtime fan of Eddie Murphy, I had the lowest possible expectations going in, and the flick's just so resoundingly WEIRD that it easily held my interest. (And for the record: Ishtar is not really all that awful either.)

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.