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Review by Dustin Putman
2½ stars out of 4
If a person over the age of 12 walks into a movie called "Kangaroo
Jack," it would probably be best if they were to lower their expectations
first. How worthwhile, after all, could a lived-action film be in
which there is a scene where a kangaroo belts out the lyrics to "Rapper's
Delight?" The surprise, then, is that "Kangaroo Jack" is far better
than it has any right to be (and for the curious, the singing kangaroo
bit is thankfully only a dream). Silly and inconsequential, but also
pain-free and passably entertaining, it is an unlikely action-comedy
that is fast-paced enough to capture the attention of children, and
smart enough (relatively speaking, of course) to make it fully tolerable for adults.
Charlie Carbone (Jerry O'Connell) and Louis Fucci (Anthony Anderson)
are long-time best friends who unintentionally are always getting
themselves into predicaments. When Charlie's crooked crime boss stepfather
Sal (Christopher Walken) gives them a package with $50,000 inside
and orders them to travel to the Australian Outback to give it to
a mystery man named Mr. Smith (Marton Csokas), Charlie and Louis have
no choice but to accept the assignment. Once there, their luck quickly
runs out when they accidentally hit a kangaroo with their rental jeep.
Believing it to be dead, they dress the marsupial up in Louis' jacket
to take pictures, only for it come to and escape. The problem is,
the jacket the kangaroo has on is carrying the money they need to deliver.
Energetically directed by David McNally (2000's "Coyote Ugly"), "Kangaroo
Jack" is more fun than could possibly have been expected. As with
practically any movie produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, it opens up with
an exciting, if pointless, car chase, and continues with a series
of comedic and death-defying action setpieces. As written by Steve
Bing and Scott Rosenberg, the dialogue is occasionally quite witty
and the kangaroo antics amusing. It only helps that the special effects
are top-notch, digitally bringing the kangaroo to life with equal
parts believability and outlandishness. A climactic action scene set
over a cliff boasts real craftsmanship and even some suspense.
For what is being billed as family entertainment, however, "Kangaroo
Jack" includes enough questionable material making one wonder what
audience the makers really had in mind. The sporadic juvenile humor,
including a sorely unfunny flatulence joke, oftentimes has trouble
mixing comfortably with the sexual innuendo and gun violence on display.
Additionally, one of the villains is seen several times wearing a
necklace with an upside-down cross--a character trait that holds no
purpose and is completely out of place. If ever there was a film that
pushed the boundaries of the PG rating, it is this one.
As for the actors, they are clearly having loads of fun, upping the
energy level around every corner. It is no secret that Anthony Anderson
(2002's "Barbershop," 2000's "Me, Myself & Irene") is a gifted comedian,
and here he is rightfully thrown to the forefront as Louis after a
string of standout supporting roles. As Charlie, Jerry O'Connell (2001's
"Tomcats") makes for a likable leading man and plays off of Anderson
with an easygoing chemistry. While having less to do than the boys,
Estella Warren (2001's "Driven") is charismatic as Jessie, an American
outbacker who helps Charlie and Louis in their quest to retrieve the
money from the fast-moving kangaroo. Meanwhile, Christopher Walken
(2002's "Catch Me If You Can") returns to his usual bad guy roles,
and makes little more than a forgettable cameo.
"Kangaroo Jack" won't be winning any awards come next winter, but
if there ever was a category for "Worst-Looking Movie That Turned
Out To Be Good," this one would deserve a spot within the nominations.
High-spirited and even endearing (with a zippy soundtrack that includes,
appropriately, the 80's classic "Down Under" by Men at Work), "Kangaroo
Jack" is an enjoyable and undemanding way to spend 87 minutes.
Copyright © 2003 Dustin Putman