I’d like to start this week by sharing with you an experience I had while watching The Adventures of Pluto Nash that goes a long way towards explaining why this movie, already widely considered a terrible movie, is indeed one of the worst movies of all time. Yes, it cost 120 million dollars to make but only took in 7 million at the box office (worldwide!). Yes, it’s Eddie Murphy at his money hungry anti-funny worst. But those two factors alone are not the whole story. Plenty of expensive Hollywood movies turn out to be flops, and Eddie Murphy has been working to destroy his reputation for years. Besides, as we’ve already seen with Hudson Hawk, the entire genre of action comedy is wide open to critiques of awfulness. My experience is this: while watching Pluto Nash last night there was a scene in Pluto’s nightclub and the song that was playing sounded an awful lot like Outkast’s “So Fresh So Clean.” That’s funny, I thought to myself. That song sounds an awful lot like Outkast’s “So Fresh So Clean”, but of course this movie was made in the mid-’90s. How else to explain its incomprehensibly corny depiction of a nonsensical future? A little while later, while the characters were on the run, there was a billboard behind them for SmartWater. That’s funny, I thought, SmartWater existed back in the mid-90s? Back in a time when a movie like this could have been made? Of course, The Adventures of Pluto Nash was released in 2002, so Outkast’s song was only strange in its placement for the fact that it was old news, and SmartWater was only just hitting the yuppies’ radar. It only SEEMS like this has to have been made back before people discovered laughter. 2002? Seriously? One likes to believe that one of the outcomes of 9/11 was, at least in the short-term, a refinement of our priorities, and a rejection of the impossibly bad. Not so, reminds The Adventures of Pluto Nash. Hollywood is still so bad at its job, it tells us.
The Adventures of Pluto Nash is one of the most unnecessarily complicated movies I’ve ever seen, and I was barely able to follow the plot. But what I think happens is Pluto Nash is a famous smuggler (because in the future that’s a thing) who lives on the moon in the year 2087. He’s given up his life of crime and runs a successful nightclub. One day Ralph Cifaretto comes and tries to buy the nightclub for 10 million dollars, but Pluto refuses to sell. So Ralphie blows up the nightclub with a rocket launcher and then him and a black albino try to murder Pluto Nash and they also try to murder his new friend slash waitress, Rosario Dawson. They go on the lam with Pluto Nash’s bodyguard Robot Randy Quaid. Pluto Nash tries to discover why someone wants him dead. This leads him all the way to Moon Beach, the moon’s version of Atlantic City, to the hotel of Rex Crater, a secretive hotel owner that no one has ever seen. Then Pluto Nash meets him and it turns out that Alec Baldwin had Pluto Nash CLONED and Rex Crater is actually ANOTHER PLUTO NASH, and PLUTO NASH 2 wanted PLUTO NASH 1 MURDERED so that he could keep building his casino empire on the moon after casinos were made illegal on Earth. MIND BLOWN. Also WHAT?
Now, the obvious criticism of action comedies, that they are neither exciting nor funny, definitely applies here. Take this scene, in which there are virtually no jokes and also no tension whatsoever.
If you were to keep watching, they end up getting into a moon-car chase and then their moon-car blows up and they almost die but
Guillermo DiazLuis Guzman pulls up in a moon RV listening to space reggaeton and rescues them. You’ll be happy to know that in the year 2087, ON THE FUCKING MOON, Peurto Ricans are still ridiculous stereotypes of themselves? Stay class, this movie.
That’s sort of the problem throughout Pluto Nash. It’s the moon in the year 2087, but people still use AOL and what’s basically a slightly better version of WebTV? It’s 2087 and the best we can do with robotics is Randy Quaid?
But all of the movie’s faults can really be traced back to an even earlier source. The very opening of the movie, the first thing that you see, is Jay Mohr singing. I think that right there says it all. Whoever said “yes, that is a totally acceptable way to open a movie” can’t possibly be trusted to do anything other than deliver an hour and a half of misery.
Jay Mohr is the worst and everything that he’s involved in is the worst and this movie is just one example of that.
Also, whoops to the aforementioned Glaceau SmartWater on paying for what has to be the saddest product placement disaster in history. They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but there’s got to be such a thing. If you pay money to have your drink featured in the space car whose onboard navigational computer is played by John Cleese, that is such a thing as bad publicity.
I remain convinced that the Worst Movie of All Time will not be a comedy because they lack the pretensions and failed ambitions of an equally horrible but more serious film. But Pluto Nash is further proof that action comedies are in strong contention for the Worst Genre of All Time, and a special award for Eddie Murphy for Worst Actor Who Used To Not Be The Worst And Wow, Could He Give Less Of A Fuck?