Movie Review: Kangaroo Jack

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 &#0151 the world’s first family romantic action-comedy cross-racial buddy gross-out flick.

Though, what with jokes alluding to disordered sexual acts, 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 profane language and gestures, 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 PG-13 with Coyote Ugly.

I should also mention that, despite the impression your kids may have gotten from the ad campaign, the kangaroo doesn’t really talk, except during a brief dream sequence and an outtake-style credits sequence. The flatulent camels, on the other hand, will not disappoint those who truly care about such things.

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 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.

Additional scenes contribute more sexual dialogue, profanity and crude images. The inappropriate sexual advances upon Jessie do not seem to bother her judging from the racy moment she and Charlie 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?

* * *

2003, Warner Bros. Directed by David McNally. Jerry O’Connell, Anthony Anderson, Christopher Walken, Estella Warren.


US Conference of Catholic Bishops: A-II, Adults and Adolescents

Salacious content, sexual references and innuendo; crass language; toilet humor; some menace and brief violence; brief drunkenness.

Overall Recommendability: D- (Strongly Discouraged)

Artistic & Entertainment Value: 1 (out of four) – Weak

Moral and Spiritual Value: Between Problematic and Poison

Appropriate Audience: Teens and Up

For more information on this movie's ratings, visit the Decent Films Guide at the link below.

Steven D. Greydanus does film criticism for a variety of media. He is the webmaster of the Decent Films Guide website.

(c) 2002 Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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