Two years after it was made for $100 million, this tremendously poor Eddie Murphy sci-fi "comedy" finally limps into cinemas, too high-profile to be quietly shunted to video, and so forced to display its one astonishing credential: it easily replaces "Harlem Nights" as Eddie Murphy's worst film. Yes, really.
In an oddly subdued performance grudgingly motivated by the words 'contractual obligation', Murphy plays Pluto Nash, a slippery con artist who runs a successful nightclub on the Moon in the year 2087. When the lunar Mafia want to muscle in, Nash turns them down and he, along with his neurotic robot partner (Quaid) and club chanteuse (Dawson) become targeted.
What potential there may have been for a "Men in Black"/Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy-style affair - and there clearly was - is thoroughly decimated by bad writing, shockingly poor dialogue, miscasting (Quaid in particular) and clunky editing.
The principle blame rests with writer Neil Cuthbert, who singularly fails to exploit the potential for spoofery, instead hinging the entire film on a surprise revelation that backfires spectacularly, and favouring terrible ethnic humour.
Despite the talent on display here, all the actors look thoroughly disinterested. John Cleese is stuck in the part of an electronic chauffeur, and even he doesn't even get one funny thing to do or say, Joe Pantoliano plays the head of a platoon of hitmen, and Alec Baldwin puts in an unbilled cameo as an Earthbound gangster.
Only production designer Bill Brzeski earns his salary with an impressively seedy and retro-future moonscape, reminiscent of the Futurama cartoon. Otherwise, this is a fudged opportunity of gigantic proportions - a lunar mission with no signs of life.