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Review: Imagine That

Forces you to follow its eponymous directive
By ALICIA POTTER  |  June 10, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars

VIDEO: The trailer for Imagine That

Eddie Murphy proves he doesn't need a fat suit to play soft in Karey Kirkpatrick's surprisingly nuanced family comedy. Murphy's tightly wound financial whiz struggles to relate to his daughter (Yara Shahidi), who insists that her beloved blanket transports her to a fantastical kingdom.

Dad couldn't care less — until he discovers that the kid's invisible princesses can predict corporate futures and enable him to one-up his ragingly politically incorrect Native American rival (Thomas Haden Church, in bronzer). Murphy endures humiliations both subtle and slapstick, yet he's at his funniest — and is unusually affecting — opposite radiant newcomer Shahidi.

Certain genre clichés persist (the naggy ex-wife, the climactic school show), but without the usual manipulation and treacle, they're forgivable. Also conspicuously absent is a CGI representation of the make-believe land — a clever move that forces you to follow the eponymous directive.

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