The film received overwhelmingly negative reviews and is notable for being one of the biggest box office bombs in history.
By the end of the 21st century, mankind has established itself on the Moon and also established lunar colonies, which have expanded into large cities, such as Moon Beach and Little America. Human cloning is now common, body modification is now legal and simple, and anthropomorphic androids have become widespread in use as bodyguards and henchmen. Smuggling has become one of the main sources of illegal activity (e.g. pets like dogs or cats, as animals are forbidden on Lunar colonies), and the moon has become the primary place for gambling (having been outlawed on Earth).
In 2080, there is a colony on the Moon called Little America. A retired smuggler called Pluto Nash (Eddie Murphy), who just left prison, buys a nightclub, in an attempt to fulfill a long-time wish of his. Additionally, this prevents the murder by ingestion of battery acid of the club's previous owner, Anthony Frankowski (Jay Mohr), a Polish polka dancer, by mobsters Gino (Burt Young) and Larry (Lillo Brancato) whom Anthony owed money to. Pluto rebuilds the club and establishes it as "Club Pluto." In the next seven years, Club Pluto becomes a very popular Little America nightclub. Its staff consists of Pluto himself, a Hispanic assistant, and an android named Bruno (Randy Quaid), an inferior 63 Deluxe model.
In 2087, Pluto is approached by a young woman named Dina Lake (Rosario Dawson), who has become stranded on the Moon and desires to earn some money by which to pay for transport back to Earth to Salt Lake City. Because her father "Nicky Sticks" was a friend of Pluto's, she seeks help from Pluto, offering her skills as a singer. Pluto instead gives her a job as a server at his club and allows her to remain inside to sleep after its nightly closure to the public. During the same night, Pluto is accosted thrice by Mogan (Joe Pantoliano) and Kelp (Victor Varnado), messengers of a mysterious entrepreneur called Rex Crater. They tell Pluto that Rex wishes to buy Club Pluto and convert it into a gambling casino. Pluto refuses, and Rex Crater's minions destroy the club. Pluto, Dina, and Bruno escape.
Determined to get his club back, Pluto decides to investigate Rex Crater, of whom very few people know anything. From Rowland (Peter Boyle), a retired police officer, with connections to the FBI who is a friend of his mother's, Pluto learns that Rex Crater is never seen outside of a penthouse in the city of Moon Beach, and that he was involved with a geneticist called Runa Pendankin, who specialized in human cloning before her mysterious death.
Pluto and Dina visit Doctor Runa Pendankin's apprentice Mona Zimmer (Illeana Douglas), who operates a cosmetic surgery station. They pose as a married couple attempting to revive their infatuation for one another by having their figures altered. After having seen, and adapted to their liking, several examples of commonly preferred bodily shapes and contours, they reveal that they have come for information regarding Doctor Pendankin's death. Mona Zimmer, having been intimidated by Pluto's bluffs, reveals that shortly prior to her death Doctor Pendankin had worked for or with an Earth criminal whose initials, inscribed on his briefcase, appear to have been "WZW".
Pluto and Dina return to the motel and meet Pluto's mother Flura Nash (Pam Grier), who comes there, and has Bruno recharged in his room. They are subsequently attacked by Rex Crater's assassins, who have tracked them to the hotel. Upon hijacking a limo with a holographic chauffeur named James (John Cleese), Pluto takes Dina and Bruno to an old refuge outside of the colonies of his from his smuggling days.
At the hideout Pluto searches online for information regarding any Earth criminal with the initials "WZW." When this yields nothing, Dina suggests that the initials are in fact "MZM," having been seen upside-down by Mona Zimmer. Pluto searches for "MZM" and discovers a criminal called Michael Zoroaster Marucci (Alec Baldwin). Pluto suspects that Michael Marucci and Rex Crater are one and the same. Abruptly, he is contacted by his mother, who tells him that Rowland has been killed by a fellow police officer and the hideout is attacked by Rex Crater's agents. A chase ensues and the heroes escape, but their car is damaged and explodes, causing them to be presumed dead by the agents. They manage to get out in their astronaut suits but soon run out of oxygen and pass out. Bruno carries them through the Moon desert, but soon, his battery runs out.
They are eventually rescued and taken to Moon Beach by Felix Laranga (Luis Guzmán), a local smuggler who idolizes Pluto Nash. They infiltrate Rex Crater's casino/hotel. Bruno ends up running afoul of a robot slot machine whose lever he accidentally breaks. When Bruno is taken away by security, Pluto sends Dina to pay for the damages and get Bruno out.
Pluto meets with Anthony, who is now going under the name Tony Francis, a famous intergalactic singer. While in an elevator he stalled, Pluto asks Tony if there is a way up to Rex Crater's penthouse. Pluto is told that the only way is to climb up via the elevator ropes. When they leave the elevator after Pluto asks about a Plan B, Rex's assistant Belcher (James Rebhorn) and some men attack. They knock Tony out while Pluto is stunned, which was Belcher's version of "Plan B." Meanwhile, Dina approaches the security guard at the place where the robots are locked up. When the guard tells Dina that the repairs on the robot slot machine aren't done yet, Bruno manages to trick the guard into letting him out and then knocks him out. Just then, Dina and Bruno are captured by Mogan, Kelp, and some of Rex's men, and taken to Rex's penthouse.
Upon being un-stunned by Belcher, Pluto accuses Rex Crater of being Michael Marucci. At this, Rex Crater turns his chair around and reveals himself to be a clone of Pluto. Rex (also Eddie Murphy) and Belcher explain that Rex was created by Runa Pendankin from Pluto's removed appendix to act as the public face of Michael Marucci's illegal activities. However, Rex has killed both Marucci and Runa and established his own criminal enterprise. He also states that he was the one who told his henchmen where Pluto was hiding out due to him also inheriting Pluto's memories.
When his henchmen arrive and see both Rex and Pluto, Rex kills Mogan and Kelp for their incompetence. He and Pluto then fight while the others are uncertain which is which. Pluto shoots Bruno, and Belcher (who assumes that Pluto would not damage his own robot) shoots Rex. Pluto orders his men to leave and reveals his identity to Dina by speaking of her employment to him, then knocks out Belcher who has realized his mistake in shooting the wrong person. Bruno is shown to have survived unharmed since he was wearing a bulletproof shirt, but Rex is revealed to have worn one also. Rex attempts to garotte Pluto but is thrown through a window and dies upon hitting the card table below.
The movie ends with the heroes celebrating in the rebuilt Club Pluto with Nash as the owner, Dina as the lead singer and Bruno as the new club manager (as Pluto has bought a new model 78 robot as his new bodyguard). Pluto looks at Dina singing on the stage and smiles, smoking a cigar.Eddie Murphy as Pluto Nash, a retired smuggler, who specialized in animals, clothing and drugs. He retired after he ended up in prison for his activities. After leaving prison, he bought a club from Frankowski and established a powerful enterprise. He lived on the Moon his entire life, and visited Earth only once. He actually despises Earth, hating the sun, the heat and the insects.
Murphy also portrays Rex Crater, Pluto Nash's clone created by Marucci to act as a public face for Marucci's illegal activities. However, after Marucci established a criminal enterprise on the Moon for Rex to control, he murdered Marucci and took control of the empire. Since he inherited Pluto Nash's memories, he knows and predicts his movements.
Randy Quaid as Bruno, an old, inferior 63 Deluxe model android and Pluto's childhood friend, also his smuggling partner. A running gag is his short battery time and his unnatural walking and that his top speed is no more than pure speed walking. Despite this, he is very useful, carrying chips to override car locks and wearing dual pistols. Since he has been with Pluto for so long, he appears more human than the other androids.
Rosario Dawson as Dina Lake, an aspiring singer from Salt Lake City. She arrived on the Moon after she has been offered a singing contract, but after she discovered that it was annulled, she was stranded in Little America and went to Pluto to find a job in order to earn the money for a ticket back to Earth.
Jay Mohr as Anthony Frankowski/Tony Francis, a former Polish singer who owned a washed-up polka club. He owed money to mobsters Gino and Larry, who were prepared to kill him, until Pluto arrived and saved him by paying the debt and buying his club. After some advice from Pluto, he changed his name and his image, becoming a famous intergalactic jazz singer. He also has two wives, Gina and Filomena, since he had his wife cloned.
Peter Boyle as Rowland, a retired police detective with connections to the FBI. He is an old friend of Pluto, as well as Pluto's mother. He helps Pluto in investigating Rex Crater.
Luis Guzmán as Felix Laranga, a smuggler from Puerto Rico, who idolizes Pluto Nash for his successful smuggling runs. He smuggles animals and contraband casino chips and dice.
Joe Pantoliano as Mogan, one of Rex Crater's henchman.
James Rebhorn as Belcher, Rex Crater's assistant.
Pam Grier as Flura Nash, the mother of Pluto Nash.
John Cleese as James, the holographic chauffeur of the limousine that Pluto hijacks.
Burt Young as Gino, a mobster that nearly killed Tony Francis.
Lillo Brancato as Larry, a mobster that nearly killed Tony Francis
Victor Varnado as Kelp, one of Rex Crater's henchmen.
Miguel A. Núñez, Jr. as Miguel
Illeana Douglas as Dr. Mona Zimmer, the operator of a cosmetic surgery station.
Alec Baldwin as Michael Zoroaster Marucci (uncredited), the mobster who created Rex Crater to be his public face.
The film originated in the mid-1980s. The script went through numerous revisions and production finally began in April 2000, and wrapped up in September 2000. Upon completion of filming, it sat on the shelf for two years, finally being released in August 2002.
At one point, Jennifer Lopez was cast for the role of Dina in this film, but eventually turned it down. Rosario Dawson was cast in her place.
The film was a huge failure in terms of critical reception, being panned by critics and moviegoers alike. Rotten Tomatoes ranked the film 79th in the 100 worst 2000s decade movies list, with a rating of 5% based on 87 reviews. The majority of critics lambasted the movie for its acting, dialogue, lack of humor, and crude special effects.
Pluto Nash was nominated for five Golden Raspberry Awards in 2003 including Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Eddie Murphy), Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, and Worst Screen Couple (Murphy and himself cloned), but failed to win any. It was later nominated for Worst Comedy of Our First 25 Years at the 25th Golden Raspberry Awards in 2005, but lost to Gigli.
Eddie Murphy poked fun at himself in an interview with Barbara Walters, saying: "I know the two or three people that liked this movie."
The Adventures of Pluto Nash was a massive box office bomb; its budget was estimated at $100 million with marketing costs of $20 million and domestic box office $4,420,080 and $2,683,893 overseas. It had a total worldwide gross of $7,103,973. In 2014, the LA Times listed the film as one of the most expensive box office flops of all time.
The film performed better on DVD, with US DVD rental gross of $24,983,000.