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Ron Underwood
Eddie Murphy, Randy Quaid, Rosario Dawson, Joe Pantoliano, Jay Mohr, Luis Guzman, James Rebhorn, Peter Boyle, Pam Grier, John Cleese
Writing Credits:
Neil Cuthbert

The Man On The Moon
Box Office:
Budget $100 million.
Opening weekend $2.182 million on 2002 screens.
Domestic gross $4.411 million.
Rated PG-13 for violence, sexual humor and language.

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
English, French, Spanish

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $26.98
Release Date: 12/24/2002

• Additional Scenes
• “Ain’t No Need” Music Video
• “The Making of ‘Ain’t No Need’”
• Cast/Director/Writer Film Highlights
• Theatrical Trailer
• Weblinks


Search Products:

Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 12, 2002)

With each passing year, I become more and more convinced that Eddie Murphy selects his film projects at random. Few major stars fluctuate between big hits and dire misses to the extremes suffered by Murphy, and 2002 marked a terrible year for the actor.

Actually, Murphy enjoyed a good run from 1999 to 2001. All of his films in that period did reasonably well, and one of them – Shrek - became an enormous hit. Early in 2002, it looked like Murphy’d have a “can’t miss” success as he starred with Robert De Niro in Showtime. However, it tanked, as it earned a mere $37 million at the box office. That amounted to less than half of its $85 million budget

Murphy bombed with another high profile pairing at the end of the year. I Spy was supposed to launch the big pre-Christmas rush of flicks, but it also fell short of its economic goals. With a take of only $33 million, I Spy emerged as an expensive dud that also covered less than half of its $70 million cost.

In between these two, Murphy hit rock bottom. A summer release, The Adventures of Pluto Nash actually sat on the shelves for a couple of years before Warner Bros. finally unleashed it on a disinterested public. The movie grossed a shockingly pathetic $4 million, a figure that amounted to a miniscule 1/25th of its $100 budget.

In addition to the total public apathy, Nash received scathingly bad reviews, and I feared the worst as I sat down to watch the DVD. Usually when I see something that I anticipate will be terrible, it doesn’t seem that horrible. That occurred when I screened Nash. While the movie certainly offered a weak piece of work, it also failed to fall to the depths advertised.

Set in a moon colony called Little America, Nash starts in the year 2080. Loan sharks threaten to kill club owner Anthony Frankowski (Jay Mohr) when he can’t pay his debt, so his buddy - smuggler Pluto Nash (Murphy) - agrees to cover the bucks and save his friend’s life. However, he does so only if he gets ownership of the venue.

Skip ahead seven years and we find that Pluto turned the formerly floundering club into a moon hot spot. (In addition, Anthony turned himself into successful singer Tony Francis, the moon’s most popular performer.) Rex Crater, the owner of the Lunar Grand casino and hotel, wants to buy out Nash’s club, but Pluto refuses. Baddies shoot up the joint and send Nash on the lam. He takes his robotic bodyguard Bruno (Randy Quaid) along with a new waitress named Dina Lake (Rosario Dawson). The trio try to save their skins and solve the problem.

That presents a shorter plot synopsis than I normally provide, but that stems from the fact that Pluto offers a scattered story. It goes down different tangents so much that it rarely follows a concrete line. Because of that, it becomes more difficult to try to explain things clearly. So little of the movie comes across in a distinct, well-delineated manner that it seems like a jumble.

Essentially, the character Pluto seems like little more than a space-age version of Axel Foley from Beverly Hills Cop. He schemes and uses his quick wits to stay ahead of the nasties. Unfortunately, the writing lacks the humor found in the earlier flick, and Murphy doesn’t do much to make the role come to life. He seems game enough most of the time, but the general mushiness of the flick doesn’t allow him much room to maneuver.

Director Ron Underwood tries desperately to make Pluto vibrant and vivid. He presents hyperactive editing and music that create a barrage on the senses. It feels like he throws everything against the wall in the hopes that some of it will stick, but that rarely occurs. Too much music fills the spaces and too much filler pops up as well.

Really, there’s not much to say about Pluto Nash. It doesn’t seem like a truly horrible movie, but it lacks any inspiration and life, and it seems like everyone’s on cruise control. I get the feeling that the director just told everyone to “Be BIG!” and left it at that. As a result, we get many aggressive and unfunny performances, and the whole film comes across like little more than a loud attack on the viewer.

The DVD Grades: Picture B / Audio B+ / Bonus D+

The Adventures of Pluto Nash appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. An erratic picture, much of Pluto looked quite good, but too many concerns occurred to raise my overall grade above a “B”.

The film started poorly and showed some surprisingly soft moments during the opening segments. However, it generally improved after that. A few additional fuzzy moments occurred, but after the start of the film, it usually appeared nicely distinct and accurate. I noticed no issues related to jagged edges or moiré effects, and I also saw no signs of edge enhancement. As for print flaws, the movie exhibited some light grain as well as a few speckles, but it usually came across as clean and fresh.

The vibrant neon moon setting lent Pluto a lively palette, and the DVD usually displayed those well. At times, the colors took on a somewhat thick appearance, but the hues mainly seemed tight and distinct. The moderately dense qualities to the tones didn’t dominate the movie, and they mostly appeared very pleasing. Black levels were deep and rich, while shadow detailed showed appropriately heaviness but remained clear and well defined throughout the film. Despite the odd variations in quality, Pluto Nash usually looked solid and it improved as it progressed, so it merited a “B” for picture.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Pluto Nash also worked fairly well. Given the antic nature of the mix, I didn’t feel surprised that the soundfield provided a broad and lively affair. It used all five speakers constantly throughout the movie and created a good sense of environment. Both music and effects filled the front channels, and the surrounds contributed a great deal of unique audio as well. With all of the lasergun fight and chase scenes, Pluto spread the action convincingly across the front and rear and evoked the setting well.

Audio quality generally came across as solid. Some speech displayed a little edginess, but most of the lines seemed natural and crisp, and I noticed no issues related to intelligibility. Effects sounded clean and accurate, and they presented heavy bass response. Actually, low-end came across as a bit dense at times, but those elements generally packed a nice punch. Music appeared slightly muddy on occasion, but the score and songs usually seemed reasonably clean and distinct. The active soundfield provided a very positive side of the set, but the moderately problematic sound quality knocked down my grade to a “B+”.

Pluto Nash sports a small set of supplements. Most significant are the four deleted scenes. Presented non-anamorphic 1.85:1 with Dolby Surround 2.0 audio, these last a total of four minutes, 44 seconds. The first clip runs longest at three minutes, two seconds, while the other three each clock in at between 32 and 41 seconds. Supporting characters take the lead here. The first two segments concern the affairs of baddies Mogan and Kelp, while the other two feature Rowland. None of them add anything to the experience, though the first one offers a cameo from Charlie Martin Smith (I think), who otherwise doesn’t appear in the film.

Next we get a music video for “Ain’t No Need” by IMx. Despite the similarities between the trio’s name and DMX, IMx actually shows more of a Sisqo vibe. That’s not a compliment, and this tune seems bland and pointless. The video uses the classic formula, as it mixes jerky dancing and lip-synching with shots from the movie. Ain’t no need to watch this lame piece.

In case you liked the video, you can learn more about it via The Making of the Music Video. This three-minute and three-second featurette combines movie shots, clips from the video, behind the scene images and soundbites from video director Eric White and IMx. None of this offers any insight or depth, and the program seems fluffy and pretty much useless.

The DVD ends with the film’s theatrical trailer - presented anamorphic 1.85:1 with Dolby Surround 2.0 audio – and a Cast and Crew section. The latter includes filmographies for actors Eddie Murphy, Randy Quaid, Rosario Dawson, Joe Pantoliano, Jay Mohr, Luis Guzman, James Rebhorn and Peter Boyle plus writer Neil Cuthbert and director Ron Underwood.

For those with DVD-ROM drives, you’ll get to connect to a few weblinks. These go to a “Latest Movies” area that details new DVD releases, WB Online, and the usual WB “Special Features” site. (Another link seems like it should go to a Pluto Nash site, but instead it sends you to the same WB Online page found elsewhere.) You can also sign up for WB’s “Movie Mail” feature here.

While not the utter disaster described by many, The Adventures of Pluto Nash still offered a weak piece of work. It suffered from a messy script, obnoxious acting and a general sense of hyperactive sloppiness. The DVD featured erratic but mostly positive picture and sound along with a slight roster of extras. I didn’t hate Pluto Nash, but I saw no reason to recommend this lackluster and muddled action comedy.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6562 Stars Number of Votes: 32
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