By Mack Chico
Rated: PG for some mild language and brief questionable behavior.
Release Date: 2009-06-12
Starring: Ed Solomon, Chris Matheson
Official Website: No disponible.
Watching Imagine That, I was beset by a feeling of intense depression. Is this what Eddie Murphy has become? Once moviedom’s most high-octane comedian, a combustible mixture of raunchy, non-holds-barred verbal repartee and kinetic physical mayhem, Murphy has now become a sad parody of his former self. If the failure of the comedy isn’t reason enough to avoid the movie, its dramatic missteps are even more unforgiveable.
Evan Danielson (Murphy) is a financial analyst at a Denver investment firm that is about to undergo a major restructuring. Longtime CEO Tom Stevens (Ronny Cox) is selling the company to a Donald Trump figure, Dante D’Enzo (Martin Sheen), who intends to fold the new acquisition into his empire. He initiates an Apprentice challenge to Evan and his biggest in-house competitor, Johnny Whitefeather (Thomas Haden Church). Whoever impresses him the most will get a top position in the conglomeration. Evan’s situation is complicated by the presence of his seven-year old daughter, Olivia (Yara Shahidi), who is staying with him for the week while her mother (Nicole Ari Parker) is otherwise engaged. Desperate for her father’s attention, Olivia dips 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 re-evaluates the validity of her imaginary friends. Although he can’t see them, he starts to play along, and soon becomes obsessed with spending time with his daughter not because of who she is but because of what she can do for his career.
While Murphy’s recent resume (excepting Dreamgirls) might lead to low expectations for his cinematic endeavors, the involvement of director Kary Kirkpatrick could have been a cause for limited optimism. Kirkpatrick’s resume is solid. His only previous directorial outing was Over the Hedge, an amusing animated effort, but he has written a number of noteworthy screenplays, including those for The Spiderwick Chronicles and Chicken Run. Perhaps the problem with Imagine That is that he wasn’t involved in the writing. Whatever the case, this is as disappointing a live-action debut as one can envision.
Still, it’s hard to consider Imagine That an unmitigated failure. It will probably entertain the most undiscriminating and uncritical portion of its target audience: young children, most of whom will sit through anything featuring live-action figures imitating cartoon characters. They’ll love Eddie Murphy’s trampoline encounter and his pancake meal. For parents absorbing the blow necessary to entertain their offspring, it will take more than an active imagination to make believe that Imagine That is anything more than two hours of torture.