To Boldly Go Where Few Have Tread
Let's set the scene: it's 2002. Eddie Murphy is riding a giant wave of notoriety that he found in the late 80's. A man who gained fame for being subversive, intelligent and often downright batshit, is now a household name. He just voiced a talking donkey in Shrek, and my God, he's proven that talented actors can still make money and make relevant movies with great performances. He worried us a little bit with some of his choices; "The Nutty Professor" and "Doctor Doolittle" aren't exactly high art. But those are just kids' movies, right? You can't expect Eddie Murphy to go all "Raw" in a children's movie. If you do, you're disgusting.
Enter Pluto Nash.
Pluto Nash is not a children's movie. Children's movies, often, are fun. Pluto Nash is a carefully crafted, billion dollar flop that was designed to hit all the right buttons. It followed the film formula to a "t", it got some of the biggest names in Hollywood, it spared no expense with special effects (and for 2002, this movie at least LOOKS fairly decent). But it wasn't good. It was never going to BE good. All Murphy's involvement did was bring its badness to the public eye. Without him, it would have been an easily forgettable B-movie with some "Hey!"-worthy celebrity sightings.
Pluto Nash is the movie Murphy should never have made. But as we sat down to actually watch it, we wondered: is this really the worst flop of all time? Or do we just believe that because it's what we've been told? Does the movie actually SUCK as hard as they say? Could it have been saved? Can things possibly have been any worse?
You may be surprised at what we found.
"The Drunken Misadventures of Pluto Nash": The Rules
Yeah, I know. But that gives you some freedom to make a really weird, really STRONG drink to go with it. We made a variation of "Galactic Lemonade" using Blue Curacao, peach lemonade and gin.
1. Drink for Title Drops. For easy mode, that's every time someone says "The Adventures of Pluto Nash".
2. Drink for Daddy Issues
3. Drink when they drink. Pluto owns a nightclub. Have fun.
4. Drink for the first appearance of a celebrity who you believe can do better than this film. You should be able to name the celebrity. Otherwise, you'll just be drinking constantly.
5. Drink for sexual innuendo, or a joke based around sex.
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Title Drops: Drink whenever someone says "Pluto Nash".
2. Drink for references to space.
3. Drink for action sequences
All the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink when a person playing the game actually groans because a joke is so bad.
2. Drink for filmmaking cliches.
Krissy Pappau: Already regrets this decision (Hard)
Pooh Daddy: Volunteered to operate the camera (Easy)
Dame Poppy Middleton: Wants the blue curacao to be GONE (Easy)
Williams: Lost track of the plot (Easy)
Big Moose: Caught the "Day the Earth Stood Still" reference. Can YOU? (Medium)
Gunter: Film Major. Nuff said. (Hard)
One small step for film...one giant leap for people who watch bad films. It's Pluto Nash.
The Spectrum of Badness
This is not a good movie. It is, in fact, a largely unenjoyably BAD movie. It makes no attempts to be original, the actors look bored, and OH MY GOD, did they just rip off the Futurama opening theme AND butcher "Blue Moon" at the same time?
But this movie is by no means one of the worst movies I've ever seen. We'd ALL seen worse films. Big Moose admitted that if he'd seen Pluto Nash on television, he wouldn't necessarily change the channel. Williams even said...she liked...the movie.
For comparison's sake, one of those movies on that list is one we've reviewed before.
What made Burt Wonderstone SO terrible and SO hard to watch for me was that Burt Wonderstone actively offended me. Burt Wonderstone made jokes about suicide, about children dying of hunger in Cambodia, about suffering brain damage, about drugging an audience of paying customers, about PUPPY DEATH, and at no point in time did they temper this offensive material with anything FUN. The writers did not understand how dark humor worked, and the plot was so offensively formulaic that it killed anything the actors or director were trying to do.
Pluto Nash, by comparison, completely understands how comedy works. It understands how all films work. It understands TOO well. Watching Pluto Nash is like watching a full-grown adult fill in a child's color-by-numbers book. It looks pretty, and technically you're doing everything correctly, but the product is soulless and pointless. Nobody involved learns anything about coloring OR about art. So Pluto Nash offers a joke up to the audience, a joke that should work based on the way film is written, the audience lets it fall to the ground. People who watch movies are smart enough to spot when people aren't trying. And Pluto Nash never tried. It's no coincidence that the funniest character in the movie is an outdated robot.
So we did the work for them.
The major question that is never answered during the course of the film is, HOW did people end up on the moon? Why are we on the moon when some people are still down on Earth? Gunter put forth an explanation: the moon is 2087's version of Australia. It's a penal colony.
The more you think about it, the more sense it makes. That's why everyone's got a gun. That's why half the businesses seem to do sketchy side-jobs under the table. Pluto and several other characters did time in prison, and what other characters there are claim to be former police officers. So the moon is just a final destination for the unsaveable criminal minds of Earth.
On the other hand, if the moon is a penal colony, that would certainly explain the shitty bathrooms we see in Pluto's club.
Does Anyone DESERVE This?
"By this point," he argued, "he totally deserves to be here."
What? Who's Jay Mohr?
But I have never seen a more mediocre IMDB page than Jay Mohr's. The first credit that comes up when you search his name is, sadly, "Pluto Nash". He has somehow managed to avoid his fifteen minutes of fame, instead jumping from one mildly quirky supporting role to the next. I'm sure the man has made a lot of money, and I'm sure he has a lot of famous friends.
But I do not take a drink for Jay Mohr's presence in this film. Because he never moved on. This is just one credit in a sea of credits that everyone's seen but few remember.
Also, he was in "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone". So he clearly has no taste.
Drink when you catch an actor phoning it in.
This is also pretty subjective, but you can usually tell. Peter Boyle was a major offender.
Drink when characters use technology that we use today.
This can get out of hand, but I'm talking about stuff that wasn't widespread in 2002. Like video chatting.
Drink when Quaid's character calls Pluto Nash "Boss".
Apart from the sex jokes, that's all his character does.
For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). Video footage is taken by Pooh Daddy (Vincent Graham) and edited by Seb (Amy Yourd). All "The Adventures of Pluto Nash" images are owned by Castle Rock Entertainment and Warner Bros.