The Adventures of Pluto Nash

The Adventures of Pluto Nash
Film review by: Witney Seibold



            The early-to-mid-1980s spawned a huge amount of cheesy, cheap, banal, and sometimes fun science-fiction films. Their birth was probably a direct result of the success of “Star Wars” and “E.T.” The sheer volume of these films, marked by their uncreative subject matter, is enough to occupy an entire sub-genre of sci-fi. Like slasher films, or perhaps even James Bond movies, their predictability and sameness are actually more charming than banal. The film “The Adventures of Pluto Nash” starring Eddie Murphy and directed by Ron Underwood fits squarely and comfortably in the middle of this genre.

            In the year 2080, the Moon has been colonized. It resembles the cramped and neon-lit splendor of a
Reno or an NYC suburb. Just released from prison is Pluto Nash (Murphy), an ex-smuggler trying to play it straight. When he saves his buddy Tony (Jay Mohr, an actor who is not as famous as he should be) from some bookies, Pluto turns over a new leaf and becomes a successful nightclub owner. Fast-forward eight years. Pluto’s now-successful club is destroyed by the bully Morgan (Joe Pantoliano) who resents that Nash runs things honestly. The rest of the film follows Pluto, a new waitress Dina (the lovely Rosario Dawson), and his robot bodyguard Bruno (Randy Quaid), as they try to uncover the mystery of the evolving mob on the Moon.

            Despite what the world at large seems to feel about it, I must admit, I enjoyed this film. While it’s billed as a comedy, it’s not a laugh-a-minute spoofy yukfest in the vein of “Spaceballs.” In fact, the scenes of solid comedy are few and far between. It’s the story itself that has a few miscalculations. I admired the life and solidity of the world created, which was a weightless fantasy straight from the mid-1980s. It took the characters and surroundings seriously, allowing us to live on the Moon alongside Pluto. We’re given details that involve us, rather than distract us. Example: in a pan through the Moon city, we see a theater playing “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” That’s cool. The special effects were not distracting and made the film jump with energy. They were more lively and convincing than anything from, say, the bland new “Star Wars” picture.

            Add to this a wonderful supporting cast including John Cleese, Pam Grier, Illeana Douglas, and Peter Boyle, and you have a surprisingly delightful entertainment.





            Extra note from the year 2009: “The Adventures of Pluto Nash” is considered to be the marked downturn for Murphy’s stalled career. The film won several Razzies, and is used as a punchline more often than as anything else. I still stand by the above opinion, however, and encourage you to see “Nash” with an open mind. You may not hate it.

Published in: on April 22, 2009 at 11:32 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] a head and the body of a giant gorilla. A favorite among fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000. 77. The Adventures of Pluto Nash – Eddie Murphy stars in one of the biggest box office failures in history. I still liked it better […]

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