If Eddie Murphy's career were an injured horse it would be shot and the carcass buried in the remotest part of the desert to ensure no one ever stumbled upon it.
His latest disaster, "Imagine That," follows such cinematic slop as "Meet Dave," "Norbit," "The Haunted Mansion," "Daddy Day Care," "I Spy" and "The Adventures of Pluto Nash." If it weren't for his supporting role in "Dreamgirls" and voice work in the "Shrek" projects, Murphy's career could officially be declared a toxic waste dump.
And "Imagine That" is the most painful of all because it contains a nugget of a sweet story that Murphy does his worst to kill every time it starts to emerge.
The best moments of "Imagine That" are when Evan (Murphy), a workaholic financial executive, slows down long enough to pay attention to his young daughter Olivia (Yara Shahidi). He's been so neglectful she's retreated into a fantasy world of imaginary friends.
Evan finds those imaginary friends interesting when they start giving him great financial advice. The only way to keep getting the tips is for father and daughter to make imaginary excursions to the fantasy world.
That's what makes this movie so painful. Murphy can be entertaining when he's not trying so hard. And Yara is certainly a charmer. When director Karey Kirkpatrick slows the film down to let them connect, there are some real emotional moments. But those moments are destroyed when Kirkpatrick allows Murphy to fly off into some frenzy that is supposed to pass as comedy.
The failure of this film is not Murphy's alone. Thomas Haden Church turns in his worst performance, as Whitefeather, since "George of the Jungle 2." He's a financial analyst who uses Native American heritage as if it was a sideshow act.
He babbles about nature, leads clients in war chants and delivers offensive lines of dialogue. It's the double whammy of bad acting and bad taste.
Even the soundtrack of this movie is a failure because of the way so many Beatles tunes get butchered.
Every actor makes a dud. Some, like Murphy, make a career out of duds.
It must be that he is so used to making bad movies, even one with great potential ends up being ridden to failure.
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (559) 441-6355. Read his blog at