Eddie Murphy returns to form in Imagine That

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c971/1244645536-imagine_that.jpg Imagine That, the Nickelodeon family comedy about an executive who finds answers to his business troubles in his young daughter’s imaginary world has a lot to recommend it, especially Eddie Murphy’s likeable, naturalistic performance as Evan, the beleaguered businessman, and his chemistry with Yara Shahidi, the exquisite little actress who plays his daughter, Olivia. Evan, a Denver investment banker and divorced dad finds his career threatened by a rival, a faux Native American New Age bullshitter (Thomas Haden Church). Evan has little time for Olivia, who has retreated into an invisible kingdom populated by fiery dragons and benevolent princesses. Olivia draws her dad into her world, where the princesses give accurate investment advice rendered in little-girls’ language (one company is “a big, dumb showoff”). Evan bonds with Olivia but becomes too dependent on her oracle, creating a crisis that’s tidily resolved by movie’s end. The movie, which opens areawide on Friday, is an endearingly low-key showcase for Murphy’s comic and dramatic talents. Its mild satire of the cutthroat corporate world is amusing, though the unquestioning embrace of the capitalist creed is disheartening. The conclusion suggests that happiness, for an overstressed workaholic who has neglected his family, lies in aspiring to a higher rung on the corporate ladder. ***

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