A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Eddie Murphy father-daughter comedy is aimed squarely at families, so expect your kids to be interested. The good news is that it's mostly tame and family-friendly, except for a few exclamations like "crap" and "hell" and some possibly off-putting, over-the-top references/jokes regarding Native Americans and their culture. While Murphy's character starts out primarily interested in furthering his career, he ultimately learns an important lesson about putting his daughter first.
What's the story?
Evan (Eddie Murphy) is a successful investment manager who's up for a huge promotion. But the same week that he has to outperform his scene-stealing competitor Johnny Whitefeather (Thomas Haden Church) in client meetings, his ex-wife sends their daughter Olivia (Yara Shahidi) to stay with him. As the week progresses, it becomes clear that Olivia's special security blanket, "Goo Ga," and her imaginary princess friends are prescient about business deals. When Evan loosens up and starts believing in Olivia's unseen pals, it looks like he'll be a shoo-in for the big job.
Is it any good?
Murphy's live-action family films are hit (Dr. Dolittle) or miss (Meet Dave) -- IMAGINE THAT seems a bit more like the former than the latter. The premise is simple, the story is like a younger-skewing Bedtime Stories-meets-Bridge to Terabithia (minus all the special effects, since we never actually see Olivia's magical kingdom), and the manic Murphy quotient (how often his comedy goes way over the top) is kept to an amusing but not annoying level. Compared to some of Murphy's recent stinkers, this charming little father-daughter tale is perfect family matinee fare.
The main reason for the movie's appeal is the adorable chemistry between Murphy and Shahidi. The kid isn't just cute, but believably enchanting. 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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's messages about work-family balance.
What does Evan learn by the time the movie is over?
Was Olivia's fantasy world important because it helped Evan get ahead or because it helped them bond?
Families can also discuss the movie's Native American jokes/references. Are they funny? Is humor based on stereotypes OK?
- In theaters: June 12, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: October 6, 2009
- Cast: Eddie Murphy, Thomas Haden Church, Yara Shahidi
- Director: Karey Kirkpatrick
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild language and brief questionable behavior
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