A financial executive (Murphy) who can't stop his career downspiral is invited into his daughter's imaginary world, where solutions to his problems await.
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Evan Danielson (Eddie Murphy) is a typical family film dad, which in the 2000s means he's a well-meaning workaholic who takes his family for granted and generally doesn't give them the time of day. Though to his credit, at least he realizes it. "Imagine That" being one of those light fantasy family films, he's getting ready to be forced to confront that problem when he discovers his daughter's (Yara Shahidi) imaginary friends are capable of giving eerily prescient financial advice.
You get one of these once a year or so, and most of Murphy's recent career has been built on this sort thing; in concept it's not too far off from his "Dr. Doolittle" films, but it's better than most of those, and generally far better than it has any right to be.
Most movies like this tend to confuse the parents quest to connect with their children with a quest to find their own inner child. What you end up with are essentially childish characters that in no way represent anything that could be considered a real person, because they're not supposed to. They're supposed to be stand-in play pals for the kids they're aiming at, and in the world of a lot of filmmakers and studio executives, immaturity is king of that demographic.
It's with no small amount of wonder then that "Imagine That" eschews most of that in favor of focusing on its core story, that of a father reconnecting with his daughter. Mainly because Evan is thoroughly an adult, even when he's acting like a kid.
A wealth manager at a small investment firm, Evan's worked hard to be good at his job and given up just about everything else to stay that way. If he were a real person he'd probably be an unbelievable jerk that would impossible to sympathize with. But in Murphy's hands he's actually quite charming and likeable, and for adults in the audience generally quite relatable even when he does resort to intentionally child-baiting shtick (which is more or less what the plot is about anyway).
And even when it does embrace its younger side it generally manages to get away with it. Part of that is because, even when he does go for the over-the-top kids' film gold, Murphy never turns into his typical man-child, but stays an adult trying to reach a child from their perspective, and there is a real difference.
None of which is quite to say that "Imagine That" is a movie for adults. It's not really, but it wants to at least engage the adults who are dragged along to it, and it's a great deal less obnoxious than most of its ilk. There are plenty of moments of Murphy mugging the way you would expect in an Eddie Murphy movie—especially a running gag about Evan explaining his financial choices in 6 year-old terms that goes on far too long—but no where near what you normally have to put up with.
It's silly enough that it's target audience should get a kick out of it (even if it lacks a lot of the visual wow a lot of kids films feel like they have to have) and its bearable for adults, and as far as family films go that's a lot better than you can usually expect.