Imagine That Survives Off Eddie Murphy and Poop Jokes


Eddie Murphy is a Denver investment consultant, Evan, with a workaholic schedule that leaves little space for his seven-year-old daughter, Olivia (Yara Shahidi). Adding to his pressures is the meteoric rise of a co-worker, shtick Native American “Whitefeather,” whose financial consultations come couched in pseudo-mysticism and PowerPoint razzle-dazzle (played by Thomas Haden Church, fitfully amusing, with characterization and makeup owing much to Phil Hartman’s SNL Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer). Evan’s interest in parent-child bonding spikes when Olivia becomes a medium for clairvoyant insights into international business trends via her imaginary friends. On the surface, the idea of combining Bloomberg Terminals, market jargon, and childish fancy seems counterintuitive. That’s because it is. But Imagine That does manage to get a crowd tearing up on cue for its emotional climax; as much as it works, it’s through the personal charm of Murphy and Shahidi. Strikes against include god-awful Beatles covers, over-reliance on the hilarity of grown-ups in suits saying “poop,” and obtrusive Red Bull product placement—the beverage company may as well start producing films itself after this and Yes Man. If memory serves, kiddies like whatever movie you drop them off at but, for the record, Drop Dead Fred remains the vastly superior film.