Hollywood is always experimenting with combining genres and approaches in order to achieve the broadest possible demographic appeal. For example, there’s the action-comedy, the gross-out romantic comedy, the romantic action-comedy, and of course the action-comedy buddy flick, often pairing a black star and a white star, the better to reach cross-racial audiences.
Now at last, from the creators of Coyote Ugly, comes the culmination of this trend: the action-comedy with black star, white star, love interest, talking kangaroo, flatulent camels, and poop jokes. Yes, it’s Kangaroo Jack — the world’s first family romantic action-comedy cross-racial buddy gross-out flick.
Though, what with jokes alluding to homosexuality and masturbation, a sequence with a man and a woman in their underthings bathing together and smooching under a waterfall (which one describes as "the most sensual, romantic moment of my entire life"), some fairly rough mobster violence, and odd talk about "testicles falling off" and "crazy-ass white boys," it’s not exactly family fare. On the other hand, no grown-up in his right mind would pick this movie for himself. It seems to have no audience at all, except perhaps very indiscriminate young teens. With Kangaroo Jack, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director David McNally have done for the PG rating what they did for
The story: Charlie Carbon (the white one, Jerry O’Connell of Mission to Mars) lives in New York and just wants to cut hair, but between his mob-boss stepfather Sal (Christopher Walken, Catch Me If You Can) and shady-operator best friend Louis Fucci (the black one, Anthony Anderson of Barbershop), he’s always in one kind of trouble or another. After one debacle involving a truckful of stolen televisions and lots of smashed cars, an angry Sal sends Charlie and Louis to Australia to hand-deliver an envelope of unknown contents to a certain "Mr. Smith" (Marton Csokas, Celeborn in Lord of the Rings). En route the buddies discover that the envelope contains $50,000. How exactly it is that this discovery is played for nasty scatalogical humor, I will not explain, though it’s not worth seeing the movie to find out.
Arriving in Australia, everything seems to be going fine until our heroes run over and seemingly kill a kangaroo. How exactly it is that, when the kangaroo revives and hops off, it is wearing Louis’s lucky red jacket is another mystery you will not learn in this review; suffice to say that Mr. Smith’s $50,000 is in the kangaroo’s jacket pocket. Efforts to locate the kangaroo and recover the money soon lead Charlie and Louis to enlist the aid of Jessie (the love interest, Estella Warren of Planet of the Apes), a local wildlife expert.
More precisely, Jessie discovers the buddies lost in the desert, overheated and hallucinating. In fact, Charlie’s hallucinations have been so vivid that he initially mistakes Jessie for one, and immediately decides that, as long as he’s having such an attractive hallucination, he decides he might as well grope her breasts with both hands. "Hey, these feel really real!" are his last words before Jessie knocks him cold with a canteen. Afterwards, coming to, he tries to explain: "I didn’t think they were real — I mean, not them… I didn’t think you were real." Fortunately, she understands. And I’m sure Charlie understands too when, after giving him a potion to help him recover, she warns him that it will make his "testicles fall off."
Apparently she’s joking, though, to judge from the racy moment they later share stripped down for bathing beneath a photogenic waterfall. Even in her eye-candy Planet of the Apes role Estella Warren didn’t have cheesecake footage as blatant as this wet T-shirt scene. Meanwhile, Mr. Smith eventually gets tired of waiting for his money, concludes that Charlie and Louis have pulled a fast one, and comes after them brandishing his "This is a knoife" knife. And then Sal, trying to clean up the mess, sends down still more goons to further complicate matters.
No review of Kangaroo Jack would be complete without some mention of its heartwarming closing thought that, even if your friends are criminals and are always getting you into trouble, that’s what makes life interesting. Thus Charlie explains to Louis why Louis is really a positive influence in his life: "You save my life every day," he says fondly, specifically recalling one particular lark involving some Greyhounds. "Every good story I have begins with the words ‘Louis said.’ " And isn’t that what really matters?
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.