Hollywood, CA — “Imagine That” is one of those films that you just know will become a family favorite, a classic because of its timeless message and the sure fact that Daddy’s can learn a lot about raising a daughter.

Eddie Murphy (“Dreamgirls”) is brilliant as the father of his seven-year-old daughter Olivia played by Yara Shahidi (ABC comedy “In the Motherhood”) who feels more comfortable with her imaginary friends and blanket than she does with her father. To make matters even more sensitive, she lives with her mom played by Nicole Ari Parker (“Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins”) and only visits her dad when it’s convenient for him.

Murphy stars as Evan Danielson a highly successful financial wizard on the verge of receiving the promotion of a lifetime. He’s ready, he’s pumped and he knows exactly who his competition is, Johnny Whitefeather played by Thomas Haden Church (“Sideways”). Whitefeather clings to his Native American heritage in a big way, and has made a huge impression on the management team with his very unorthodox presentations and Native American “wisdom-speak,” and in a very short time he’s made his way up the ladder. Now he’s competing with Danielson (Murphy) for the top position.

The one thing Danielson didn’t count on was the fact that at the most crucial point in his career, where preparation is the key, his daughter must spend several nights with him. Under pressure, irritable and just plain no fun, Danielson tolerates his daughter. She, recognizing that he’s too busy for her begins to blurt out the comments that her imaginary friends make about his upcoming presentation. He, believing its all nonsense, with her blanket in tow, ushers her off to bed, both ending up very unhappy. The next day, however something very curious happens that sets the stage for a funny, loving and a somewhat disturbing sequence of events.

Yara Shahidi (Olivia) holds her own against one of the funniest men in entertainment. With the right scripts and opportunities, Yara could easily become the next great child star. This pint-sized, lovely little girl beat out nearly 3000 youngsters for the coveted role. Film Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura says Yara has “star power. Her chemistry with Eddie was immediate and her ability to take direction astounded us.”

Whitefeather (Thomas Haden Church) proves to be a formidable foe. His “Native American ‘wisdom’speak’” is strangely suspicious and often leaves Murphy’s character asking him “what does that mean?” As a matter of fact Danielson gets so fed up with Whitefeather that he blows his top, and shows the top brass that he can be just as ridiculous and outrageous as his competition and blurts out everything his daughter said her imaginary friends told her about his business projections. That’s when things turn around for both of them.

In the pursuit to learn more about Olivia’s imaginary friends, Danielson begins to spend more quality time with his daughter. The connection between the two is on screen magic, and delightful. So much so that Danielson forgets all about his plan to search his daughters mind for more information about her imaginary friends and simply enjoys the time he has with her. The scene with the two of them melts your heart in between the laughter and without being preachy teaches dads of all races a very powerful lesson about love and spending quality time with your daughter. But, something goes wrong, and Danielson finds himself swimming in the deep end and only Olivia and her imaginary friends, Moppida and Koopida can help him.

“Imagine That” is a funny, warm, heart rending story that harkens back to the days of Shirley Temple. Eddie Murphy’s imperfect character finds away to save the day, and all is well in Daddy/Daughter land.

“Imagine That” is in theaters Friday. It’s a great family and date movie.

– Gail Choice can be reached at gailchoice@yahoo.com.