Adventures of Pluto Nash, The (PG-13) ★½

Review Date: August 16th, 2002

Welcome to the year 2087 when on the Moon, anything goes. When a successful nightclub owner refuses to sell his club to a mob boss, he finds himself in a lunar-world of trouble.


Once again, we journey into the not-too-distant future when the Moon has been colonized, and it's just one big party town. Pluto Nash (Eddie Murphy) is an ex-con who takes over a dilapidated club and turns it into one of the hottest spots on the otherwise frigid lunar rock. Of course, his luck can't be all good. Soon, a mysterious gangster named Rex Crater, whom no one has ever seen, sends in his crony (Joe Pantoliano) to try to buy Club Pluto--mostly because he wants to take over the Moon (what else?). When Pluto refuses, he suddenly becomes target practice. Along with lovely waitress/singer Dina (Rosario Dawson) and his robotic bodyguard Bruno (Randy Quaid), Pluto tries to get to Crater before the bad guys can get to him. Pluto Nash has absolutely nothing to offer in the way of action, if that's what it is going for, but there are some comedic moments. The usual ''what-would-the-future-be-like?'' jokes are there, including Hillary Clinton's face on a $1,000 bill, the advancement of body enhancements and cloning. Still, whether trying to be a comedy or an action adventure, Pluto Nash unfortunately misses the mark on both counts.


When choosing Pluto Nash, Murphy probably decided he was tired of wearing a fat suit, being upstaged by talking animals or even playing a donkey. He probably wanted to be just Eddie Murphy again. Unfortunately, those other film personas, such as Sherman Klump and Dr. Dolittle, are what put the comedian back on the map after a string of failures at trying to be ''just Eddie Murphy.'' He should remember that. Pluto is charismatic and affable but, even in Murphy standards, is still pretty tame. Dawson is appealing as Dina and manages to eke out a worthy performance from a thankless part. Coming off another hapless female role in Men in Black II, the actress should look at trying to sink her teeth into something more meaningful next time around. Then there is the long list of small roles played by strong actors, including Pantoliano, Illeana Douglas, John Cleese, Jay Mohr, Pam Grier, Luis Guzman and Peter Boyle. Why they are in the film is a mystery--maybe they were looking for a paycheck. It is still fun to see how many of them keep popping up. And poor Randy Quaid. He's never really found his potential as an actor, but as the robot Bruno, he at least gets a few laughs.


Luckily, there are a few things that did work with Pluto Nash, so the experience isn't a total bust. The film looks great, from the set design to the special effects to the costumes. In a cross between the future crowded city of Blade Runner, the construction feel of Mars in Total Recall and an over-the-top comic-book look, director Ron Underwood (City Slickers) creates a pretty wacky world on the Moon. ''Little America'' is the main city on the Moon and is definitely like the Wild West, where anything goes. Yet, the hover cars and the casinos all have a distinctly '40s feel to them. The film's look combines different eras. We even get to go on the lunar surface, outside of the domed city, and watch the actors bounce around in zero gravity. Well, it looks like fun, anyway. It's just a shame the rest of the film couldn't fit in with same wild, carefree attitude it conveys visually. There could be a good reason why the film sat on the shelf for awhile before being released. The bare-bones story only manages to elicit a few chuckles here or there--and it's hardly an ''adventure.''

Bottom Line

Even though the spaced-out The Adventures of Pluto Nash is fun to watch visually, Eddie Murphy tries to be the suave hero type again, and because of a very weak storyline, he doesn't really succeed.