The year is 2080, and Pluto Nash (Eddie Murphy) has been released from prison for smuggling, vowing to turn over a new leaf. He visits his old friend Anthony (Jay Mohr), who owns an unsuccessful nightclub where the only act is himself, playing the accordion and singing what he believes to be Scottish folk songs - so it's no wonder there's hardly anyone there. Pluto tells him that he should change his name to Tony Francis and sing like an Italian crooner, a proposal that Anthony likes the sound of. After Pluto gets back from the toilet, he finds his friend tied up and threatened by gangsters, so has to think fast: he will look after Tony's debts and take over the nightclub...
The Adventures of Pluto Nash went down in history the year it opened, not because it was any good, but because it was the biggest flop in cinema history, making back a mere five percent of its hundred million dollar budget. It was almost as if the studio didn't want to release it at all, as it sat on the shelf for two years, and when it did come out, it appeared as if those instincts were right when hardly anyone wanted to see it. Yet, as is so often the case with mega-flops, some people grew curious and sought the film out, only to find that they didn't think it was so bad after all.
And in truth, it's not terrible - it's simply average. So average that it's one of those films that drifts from one's mind minutes after it has finished, with nothing to distinguish it from the typical sci-fi television pilot that it so blatantly resembles. There is no ambition to its fantasy - it's set on the Moon for no decent reason - and the jokes are sitcom level, making for largely inoffensive, the odd swear word aside, and undemanding entertainment. It doesn't even look expensive, no matter how much was spent on it, and "deceptively cheap" is not the greatest thing you can say about a film.
As for the plot, it's a run of the mill detective yarn, where events move forward seven years to see Pluto's nightclub a roaring success, or it is until the mysterious gangster Rex Crater orders it be handed over to him or else. Pluto is having none of this, and pays the price when a bomb goes off early in the morning on the dancefloor (luckily nobody is killed - unless that bartender didn't get out of the way in time). Now Pluto, an aspiring singer called Dina (Rosario Dawson) and his creaky bodyguard robot Bruno (Randy Quaid) are all on the run, desperate to find out who the Mr Big is before his goons catch up with them.
The cast is certainly interesting, as in support there are the likes of Pam Grier (once more showing her dubious choice in film offers after Jackie Brown) as Pluto's mother, Luis Guzmán as a smuggler who saves the trio of heroes when they're stranded outside the dome, Peter Boyle as a cop, John Cleese as a holographic chauffeur (which must have taken him a day to film), and so forth. Quaid makes for a curious robot, completely bald, sounding like a Speak and Spell machine and acting like sex has been programmed into his circuits as it's just about all he thinks about. Murphy, like most of his fellow actors, coasts through this without breaking a sweat until the twist involving that staple of sci-fi T.V., the evil double. No, it's not terrible, but if it wasn't so notorious there would be no reason to watch it and satisfy your curiosity. Music by John Powell.