October 21, 2009
Review - " Imagine That " - (on DVD) By Roland Hansen
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calls. But she pays attention to everything he says and does – and so do the princesses, Olivia's trio of imaginary friends.
Somehow, the princesses come up with advice on which stocks daddy should buy and sell – and somehow, they're always
right. When Evan finally gives in and starts following their suggestions, he becomes a superstar at work – and naturally,
learns to loosen up at home and have a little fun with his daughter in the process.
Eddie Murphy does a watered-down version of his usual schtick but remains watchable the manic Murphy quotient (how
often his comedy goes way over the top) is kept to an amusing but not annoying level. The main reason for the movie's
appeal is the adorable chemistry between Murphy and Yara Shahidi. The kid isn't just cute, but believably enchanting.
Murphy is almost acted off the screen by his tiny, self-assured leading lady. Haden Church's Native American poser is funny
half the time and borderline offensive the other, depending on the scene. His funniest bit (and perhaps the only laugh-out-
loud moment in the movie) is when Whitefeather plies his son with Red Bull, covers him with a ceremonial Navajo blanket,
and tries to extract financial prophecies. Silly and a bit stereotypical? Sure. Funny? Definitely.
“Imagine That” comes from director Karey Kirkpatrick, who's previously had success with the family films “Over the Hedge”
and “Chicken Run” (which he wrote), and writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson (“Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure”).
The playful tone they achieve as Evan allows himself to enter Olivia's imaginary world always feels realistic. While that may
sound like a contradiction, “Imagine That” shows us a father and daughter running around an apartment, pretending they're
in France, or the woods, or in front of a mountain, rather than relying on special effects to create such images for us.
Any parent – anyone who's even baby-sat – should be able to relate.
“Imagine That” reaches a point where Olivia
wonders whether her dad is really interested
in her or merely how her prognostications can
help him at work, where he's competing for a
promotion against the obviously faux Native
American Johnny Whitefeather (an amusingly
self-serious Thomas Haden Church).
What happens when he's pressured to choose
between an important work meeting and
Olivia's school concert is pretty obvious, but
until then the movie is far more enjoyable than
you would imagine.
"Imagine That" is simply a feel good family
friendly film (read: 'kids movie') about the
importance of work/family balance. Still it's
enjoyable to watch - As long as you don't
expect too much.
Directed by:Karey Kirkpatrick
Starring: Eddie Murphy, Yara Shahidi, Nicole Ari Parker, Thomas
Haden Church, Martin Sheen, Ronny Cox
The words “Eddie Murphy family comedy” are enough to send shivers
down the spine of any self-respecting film lover.
Between “Meet Dave,” “The Haunted Mansion” and “Daddy Day
Care,” he doesn't exactly have the greatest track record with this
genre, at least in terms of quality (box-office success can be an
entirely different and often baffling phenomenon).
Which is what makes “Imagine That” such a pleasant surprise.
It's based on a clever premise and makes good use of Murphy's
comic strengths – singing, dancing and creating myriad voices and
personalities – without letting him go overboard and get too
obnoxious. Its feel-good revelations are predictable, yes, but it
only really turns sappy toward the very end. And it offers an
irresistible young co-star in newcomer Yara Shahidi, who very much
holds her own as Murphy's daughter without being too cutesy or
Murphy stars as Evan Danielson, a Denver-based financial executive
who barely has time for his 7-year-old, Olivia. Estranged from
his wife (Nicole Ari Parker), Evan is stuck watching Olivia for a few
days but has no idea what to do with her, so he ignores her
and instead focuses on his computer screens and constant phone