Why Eddie Murphy's fantasy comedy Imagine That leaves a lot to the imagination

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Ed Solomon, screenwriter of the upcoming Imagine That, told reporters that he felt the film's fantasy elements would work better if they went unseen on screen. "Chris Matheson, the other writer, and I, we both thought that it was much more poetic and strong that she's got this vibrant world that she describes that he never sees, and can't see," Solomon said in a group interview Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif.

"What she wants is not for him to actually see exactly what she sees, but to validate that she's seeing it," Solomon added. "Part of his befuddlement and confusion and the fact that she goes, 'OK, now we're in this cave,' and he's looking at a kitchen or whatever, seemed more real to us and just seemed more fresh."

Imagine That stars Eddie Murphy as a workaholic dad who decides to spend more time with his daughter, Olivia (Yara Shahidi), after he discovers that her imaginary friends offer spot-on advice about his company's business ventures. SCI FI Wire spoke to Solomon at the press day for the film; the following is an edited version of that interview. Imagine That, from director Karey Kirkpatrick, opens June 12.

How close does the screenplay stay true to form once it's up on screen?

Solomon: The movie evolved, to a degree. It was closer than a lot of movies have been, but Chris and I did quite a few drafts, and then we did a few drafts with Karey's supervision, and Karey did a little pass at the script, because he's a writer as well. Because he came from being a writer, it was a chance for him to sort of really internalize the material, and then we all worked on it together. And then, some of my favorite things in the movie were made up on the set with Eddie and Karey and Yara. Probably most of my favorite things in the movie were things that just came out of the moment, like a lot of the stuff in that scene with the pancakes. It's just Eddie and Yara and some pancakes and the two of them just kind of going, and a lot of Eddie's [improvisations], like, flinging the stuff, like stuff that I think are the biggest laughs. It's just the stuff that seemed spontaneous and right in the moment. ...

Was there a reason that you chose a father-daughter dynamic for the film's central relationship?

Solomon: Yes. Well, there were two reasons. One was simply for the sake of the film. Chris and I both felt like there are a lot of men who write movies and direct movies, and they always have issues with their daddies, and they always write father-son stories. We thought we didn't want to do that again. The second thing was more personal, which was it was easier for me to bond initially with my son because I was a boy and he was a boy. And my daughter, with whom I have a phenomenal relationship, it was intimidating for me to get close to her because of how imaginative and strong her own life force is. It was harder for me, and I didn't know as much of what to do, so there was much more power and energy in writing toward that, because I didn't know it as well. So in the writing of it there was a bit more explanation, I guess.