- The Washington Times - Friday, June 12, 2009

It’s a sad reflection on Eddie Murphy’s career that the best thing you can say about “Imagine That” is that there aren’t any fat suits. After the monstrously bad “Norbit,” he seems to have realized that morbid obesity doesn’t necessarily equal comedy gold.

Of course, generic family comedies aren’t necessarily comedic gold either. But they do have the benefit of not being unpleasant on the eyes and offensive to the sensibilities, and if they can amuse the kids for a couple of hours, all the better.

“Imagine That” tells the story of Evan (Mr. Murphy), a workaholic investment banker who is too busy building his clients’ portfolios and fighting off challenges from Whitefeather (Thomas Haden Church) to pay attention to his absurdly cute daughter, Olivia (Yara Shahidi). His fixation with work already has cost him his marriage, and it’s on the verge of costing him a relationship with his only child as well.

Stuck with Olivia for a week, Evan quickly grows annoyed by her obsession with her security blanket and tries to wean her from it. What he doesn’t understand is that the blanket is some sort of gateway to the spirit world, and spirits are excellent at picking stocks.

As far as premises go, this is a relatively nonsensical one, but it gives Mr. Murphy plenty of chances to jump around the screen and act the fool in order to redeem himself in the eyes of his daughter. If your idea of a good time is watching Mr. Murphy pull a silly face and mug for the camera, this is the movie for you.

Miss Shahidi is a fine young actress, though she isn’t called on to do more than look cute. Mr. Church’s performance as an American Indian who peppers his investment advice with native wisdom is either a spot-on parody of those who allow silly New Age babble to run their lives or an incredibly offensive sort of “Indian face” to complement the blackface of old. The jury’s still out on that one.

★½

TITLE: “Imagine That”

RATING: PG (some mild language and brief questionable behavior)

CREDITS: Directed by Karey Kirkpatrick, written by Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson

RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes

WEB SITE: https://www.imaginethatmovie.com/

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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