The Austin Chronicle

The Adventures of Pluto Nash

Rated PG-13, 96 min. Directed by Ron Underwood. Starring Eddie Murphy, Randy Quaid, Rosario Dawson, Miguel A. Nunez Jr., Burt Young, Peter Boyle, James Rebhorn, Luis Guzman, Jay Mohr, Joe Pantoliano, Pam Grier, John Cleese, Illeana Douglas.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Aug. 23, 2002

I have to admit being at least a little bit curious about a film whose release dates have been shuffled more times than a tired deck of cards and was not screened for critics anywhere in advance of its opening. Curiosity now satisfied, I have to agree that Pluto Nash is a pretty bad movie, although it's hardly the worst thing I've seen of late. Its cast is outstanding, and it's a shame so many have gathered together to such little avail. Murphy is fine as the former gangster-turned-club entrepreneur based on the moon in 2080, around whom all the action hinges. He's subdued and likable, and it's a role that requires no latex. Filmed in the style of an old-time action serial, The Adventures of Pluto Nash is an episodic narrative. As such, it throws continuity and plausibility out the window in favor of rip-roaring adventures, scene by dimly related scene. On a technical level, more was expected from director Underwood who has shown his inclination for film gadgetry in such films as Mighty Joe Young and Tremors. The moon of the future looks like some low-rent version of the slightly skanky other worlds in AI: Artificial Intelligence -- lots of billboards, neon, gambling, etc., broken up with occasional in-jokes, like a marquee for The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which is still showing on the moon in 2080. None of the characters has very much to do, except for Randy Quaid as Pluto's robot, who milks the sight gag for all it's worth. The storyline of The Adventures of Pluto Nash sounds like a good idea in theory (but so did Mystery Men, which was also penned by Nash screenwriter Neil Cuthbert), but in terms of execution this movie is careless and unfocused.

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