Charlie Carbone (Jerry O’Connell) and Louis Fucci (Anthony Anderson) have been friends since childhood – despite their many differences. When the two get into trouble with a local mobster, Sal Maggia (Christopher Walken), he sends them off to Australia to deliver $50,000 to a Mr Smith (Marton Csokas) in Coober Pedy. They meet with a freak accident, in which a kangaroo rides off with Louis’ lucky red jacket – and the $50,000. Now they’ve got both Sal and Mr Smith on their tails, while they chase the kangaroo across the outback to recover the cash and save their butts.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Kangaroo Jack plays like a movie made by a committee: it purports to be a family film, yet includes one scene of lurid double entendres delivered in an airline toilet, and one scene of Charlie fondling a young woman’s breasts in the mistaken belief she’s a mirage. (Don’t ask…) And that’s not to mention the storyline about mobsters and hitmen and other grown up stuff. The film’s central premise relies on a kangaroo wearing a red jacket after being knocked down on the outback road by the visiting Americans, young crims in charge of a measly $50,000. (What’s big crime coming to? You can safely transfer $50,000 on the internet.) Taking snapshots of the animal they believe is dead, posed with each other, the two guys can’t seem to notice that the roo is a fake. But we do. And so it goes on: there is soppy narration about the friendship between Charlie and Louis; there is the pointless inclusion of the pretty young American wildlife expert (except of course for the scene with her boobs) and endless cheesy scenes of fake Australia. To come all this way and create a totally false Alice Springs, for example, with dirt roads through it, is so bizarre as to raise the question: is this actually a high camp movie crossdressing as family fare to diddle Fred Nile?
Review by Louise Keller:
I’m sorry to say that Kangaroo Jack is top of my 2003 ‘worst list’ so far. The American producers may have thought it looked fun on paper (green paper), but the notion of portraying Australia as a hick joint with nought but kangaroos and an old pub, is pretty hackneyed. Especially when the script is crying for some humour and original ideas. It’s all pretty stoopid. But don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with stoopid brand of humour, as long as it is funny. Take the scene with the dingoes: ‘They’re looking at me as though I’ve got that baby’ says Louis. Groan. Then there’s the scene with the camels with flatulance problem. Groan. And the feel-the-breasts scene: it’s ok because this is a dream. Groan. Aside from a few droll moments such as the fantasy scene with rap dancing kangaroos under a shower of paper money confetti, and Bill Hunter’s rather dry (out of the pub, that is) outback pilot, I was left wanting. It’s dry in the outback and we need something fresh to satisfy our thirst. It’s predictable, overbaked and totally contrived. None of which would really have mattered if the ideas had legs or if I connected in some way with the characters. I enjoyed Christopher Walken’s mobster father and most of the cast does the best it can under the circumstances. But the Jerry O’Connell, Anthony Anderson comic pairing falls flat at best and is it really necessary to have that token ‘pretty girl in the wet singlet’ scene under the waterfall? Oh puhlease. Especially if the filmmakers are seriously targeting a family audience. But it must be said that the locations look fabulous – those spectacular landscapes, the dusty, rusty red centre, a dramatic sunset, dappled gum trees and a picturesque waterfall – but this comedy adventure with a schmaltzy buddy theme is a set back for Australia as a film location, and goes to show that the filmmakers don’t know jack.
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At the end of shooting in Australia, JERRY O'CONNELL talks about meeting a girl in Sydney, the ‘R’ and ‘E’ words, but baulks at the ‘L’ word….
KANGAROO JACK (PG)
CAST: Jerry O’Connell, Anthony Anderson, Estella Warren, Michael Shannon, Bill Hunter, Christopher Walken, Marton Csokas, David Ngoombujarra
PRODUCER: Jerry Bruckheimer
DIRECTOR: David McNally
SCRIPT: Steve Bing & Scott Rosenberg (story by Bing and Barry O’Brien)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Menzies Jr ACS
EDITOR: John Murray, William Goldenberg ACE, Jim May
MUSIC: Trevor Rabin
PRODUCTION DESIGN: George Liddle
RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 10, 2003
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.