Imagine That

by Rick Grant
Grade: B / Rated PG
Again, Eddie Murphy has signed up for another family comedy. This time, Murphy plays a high powered financial analyst, Evan Danielson, working for a big firm. He’s divorced and a workaholic. Consequently, he neglects his 7-year-old daughter, Olivia (Yara Shahidi) and she has retreated into her imaginary world.
When Evan discovers that his daughter’s imaginary friends have sage financial advice, his sagging status with his firm rises exponentially. Evan plays along with his daughter which gives Murphy a chance to do his comedy shtick, acting the fool.
In this role, Murphy shows us glimpses of his old comedy genius but in the PG context. Still, compared to a dozen other Murphy family movies this one is a cut above the rest thanks to a well written script by Ed Solomon, deft direction by Karey Kirkpatrick, and a strong supporting cast.
Thomas Haden Church skillfully plays Evan’s rival, Whitefeather, a nutty financial analyst who mixes Native American mythology with financial predictions. Evan can’t stand Whitefeather because his mythological gibberish has the boss fired up. But when Evan magically starts making accurate predictions, he becomes the company star and Whitefeather is scrambling for traction.
Now, Evan is becoming very close to his daughter Olivia but for selfish reasons. But she is enjoying the fun of helping her dad through her imaginary friends. Vanessa Williams plays Evan’s ex-wife, Lori, who is mystified by Evan’s sudden interest in Olivia. This leads to some funny situations as Evan has to see Olivia for advice when she is doing other things, like a sleep-over at someone else’s house.
Yes, Murphy’s bits are funny but not very creative. It’s shtick he has done before in these family movies. However, in the context of the heartwarming story, Murphy is very appealing. Clearly, Murphy loves kids and working with child actors. The Eddie Murphy of his old comedy special Raw no longer exists, unfortunately.
This is a sweet and adorable story of a father who comes to terms with his responsibilities to his lovable daughter. His willingness to give up a big advancement for the sake of his daughter proved that Evan had found out what was really important. This is a film that families can view without worrying about anything scandalous.