Directed by Ron Underwood, starring Eddie Murphy, Randy Quaid, Rosario Dawson, Joe Pantoliano, Peter Boyle and Pam Grier.

From the early days of the 'Beverly Hills Cop' films and 'Trading Places', Eddie Murphy has comfortably shouldered the funny black guy role. Film after film, he pulls off the same Eddie-Murphy–in-stand-up-mode, unable to make any role his own. Even the full make-up/expensive costuming for 'The Nutty Professor'/'The Klumps', fail to camouflage his lack of versatility as an actor.

Here he gets to run riot in a big-budget intergalactic caper that has about as much comedy as the moon has oxygen. Murphy plays Pluto Nash, an ex-smuggler turned nightclub owner who falls foul of the lunar Mafioso when he refuses to sell his club to corrupt gangster Rex Crater. Forced to flee for his life when the place is bombed, he vows to track down Crater in a bid to save his livelihood. Thus begins a rather benign series of scrapes aided by waitress Dina (Rosario Dawson) and his aging robot bodyguard Bruno (Randy Quaid).

As with many films that have tried to recreate a non-Earth colony, 'Pluto Nash' borrows a lot of imagery from 'Bladerunner' (ubiquitous neon, talking ads on giant screens, floating transportation). The film relies largely on special effects in the shape of matte painting, digital shots, blue screens and motion control cameras. While some of this works very well, it has gone the route of the 'Star Wars' prequels, where astronomically expensive effects are favoured over plot and story.

If Murphy is miscast and unfunny, the other casting choices seem equally bizarre. Randy Quaid is irritating as the Dusty Bin of robots, Bruno. Rosario Dawson is wooden eye-candy and Joe Pantoliano is only an adequate villain. John Cleese pops up as an electronic chauffeur while Pam 'Coffy' Grier steps in as Pluto's sassy mama. The intergalactic blockbuster certainly ain't what it used to be as this poor vehicle demonstrates. Why not ditch a couple of those blue screens in favour of a decent comedy script-writer?

Sinéad Gleeson