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Imagine That
2 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Karey Kirkpatrick

Written By:
Ed Solomon, Chris Matheson

Cast:
Eddie Murphy, Bobb'e J. Thompson, Thomas Haden Church, Nicole Ari Parker, James Patrick Stuart, Ronny Cox, Vanessa Williams, Mel Harris, Stephen Rannazzisi, Timm Sharp, DeRay Davis, Zachary Gordon, Heidi Marnhout, Emilio Mazur, Patricia Place, Catherine McGoohan, Bob Rumnock, Grace Rolek, Jonathan Mangum, Blake Hightower, Jennessa Rose, Kent Shocknek, Bob Ross, Robert Seay, Taylor Lyn, Lauren Weedman, RJ Konner, Patrick Manuel, Jourdan Lee Khoo, Erik R. Norris, Todd Hacker, Retson Ross, Allison Weintraub, Yara Shahidi, Liz Loza, John DeVito, Mia Ford, Charlie Koznick, Robb Derringer, Daniel Polo, Carly Jordan Pancher, Talen Ruth Riley, Barron Christian, Cole Pancher, Matthew Stephen Young, Brian Barney, Patricia E. Harrington, Jeff Kosloski, Adam Greeves, Alex Harz, Greg Raffelson, Dane Bernhardt, Mike Vorhaus, Michael Vorhaus, Tonja Petticrew, Tom Wiens

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Imagine That (2009)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
June 13th, 2009

'Imagine That' is totally innocuous family fare from Eddie Murphy, probably the most disgraced star in Hollywood, his resume cluttered with Z-grade trash, including Adventures of Pluto Nash, Meet Dave, Daddy Day Camp, and Dr. Dolittle. Whatever happened to the edgy comic who rose to prominence on SNL and films like 48 Hrs, Trading Places, and Coming to America? I think he might be gone forever. Why does Murphy choose stuff like this?

He should make a good R-rated feature, maybe team up with Steve Martin again, or do something serious like Dreamgirls. I hate 'Imagine That' because it is so generic, such a waste of time, aimed at children, but destined to bore them with its lethargic pacing and deceptive premise, which sounds similar to Bedtime Stories, but is afraid to go the extra mile, perhaps because of budgetary restrictions, or maybe because of lazy writing. Murphy is, by now, a sad parody of his former self. Laughs are completely absent here.

Evan Danielson (Murphy) is a financial executive recently separated from his wife Trish (Nicole Ari Parker), and so focused on his job that he does not spend much time with his daughter Olivia (Yara Shahidi). The investment firm Evan works for is about to be absorbed by another company, owned by Dante D'Enzo (Martin Sheen), a Donald Trump type. Evan's boss Tom Stevens (Ronny Cox) issues a challenge to Evan and his main competitor Johnny Whitefeather (Thomas Haden Church); whoever impresses him the most will get a top position in the new corporate conglomeration.

Evan is able to pull ahead because of predictions made by Olivia's imaginary friends. We never see these imaginary friends, and the fantasy element of the plot is thus discarded, in favor of idiotic comedy and moments of sour, artificial drama. Evan plays along with Olivia, and pays more attention to her, but we wonder if he is motivated by genuine love, or by the valuable information that she can apparently provide. Evan struck me as a narcissistic opportunist, but, of course, he is supposed to undergo a transformation, become a better person, and a better parent, but the transformation is not credible.

But you do really hope that Evan gains the upper hand over the ruthless and irritating Whitefeather, a phony Native American mystic. Ronny Cox is almost always a bad guy; either an evil dictator like in Total Recall, or a greedy, corrupt CEO, like Robocop. His character here is not rotten to the core, but he and Sheen are mostly wasted, as is Church, who is often a welcome presence. The adorable, sweet Shahidi gives the movie's best performance, a confident and impressive cinematic debut. Murphy does what he can with the lame material.

The film, for no detectable reason, utilizes several Beatles cover tunes, most of which are subpar. Director Karey Kirkpatrick's previous credits include Over the Hedge, and he also wrote scripts for Chicken Run, the 2006 version of Charlotte's Web (with Dakota Fanning), and The Spiderwick Chronicles. So, he knows kids' entertainment, which makes his involvement with this movie all the more confounding.

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