Kangaroo Jack (2003)

Unfortunately the producers of this film were unfamiliar with the more euphemistic meaning of "Kangaroo Jack"…

by Adam Miller

KANGAROO JACK, now there’s a movie not many people like. It currently rates an 8% on Rotten Tomatoes, and I don’t expect that to change too much four years after the film’s original release. First of all, the problem with this movie, like most of his movies, is Jerry Bruckheimer. He is to producing what Michael Bay is to directing. That is, terrible. No wonder they work together so often. Bruckheimer also produces the immensely popular CSI series and amusingly the same camera techniques are employed in this film. You know what I mean: the whirling pans that speed up and then slow down. The electric guitars riffing across the soundtrack. The tinted lens filters. You know, JERRY BRUCKHEIMER. Frankly, I find his aesthetics so unappealing I probably missed a lot of the other awfulness usually found in buddy movies featuring $50,000 strapped to a CGI kangaroo. You know, the constant yelling and screaming by the two “buddy” leads (Jerry O’Connell and Anthony Anderson). Or the bizarrely misplaced sex appeal of the female love interest (Estella Warren) whose breasts are fondled and nipples pokily present throughout most of this film (which, if you didn’t know, was marketed as a kids’ movie).

All that said (and there’s more) the film had its moments which almost (almost!) endeared it to me. Many of these moments came just from the juxtaposition of this film’s content with what I expected from a children’s feature. For example, the two buddies are supposed to deliver $50,000 to a shady “Mr. Smith” in Australia. Along the way they hit a kangaroo, apparently killing it. Rather than moving along, the two decide to play with the dead kangaroo, dressing it up in sunglasses and a red jacket (which just happens to have the $50,000 inside it) and taking pictures. The behavior, from any objective standpoint, is sick. It’s a slightly more restrained version of Tom Green’s antics in Freddy Got Fingered, but that said, because it was in a children’s movie, I couldn’t help but laugh. Just imagining this behavior being modeled for little kids seems absolutely ridiculous to me. Another similar example is a bizarrely out-of-place sex scene between Jerry O’Connell and the Estella Warren. They’re in a waterfall and the woman’s breasts are kept prominently (and nipply) above the waterline. The two move closer to one another, begin kissing, and doing the kind of dialogue you expect from a bad porn film. Just before I expect to see the first sex scene in a kid’s movie, Anthony Anderson jumps off a cliff into the pond screaming “Cannonball!” like an obese eight year old. It was almost a poetic reminder that this movie is intentionally pushing the boundaries of kiddie entertainment. The “adult” sex is blasted away by the childish “cannonball.” For me, there is a certain glee in that moment that smashes through the pretentiousness of adult sex and reminds us how easy it is (or, once was) to just have fun.

I truly believe that this film tries to have fun; the problem is that Bruckheimer’s idea of fun ultimately isn’t mine or most critics’. Bruckheimer’s antics aside, the film seems to really be trying to have a little fun with the children’s film genre. Is it bad? Sure, but unlike other Bruckheimer epics (Bad Boys 2, Pearl Harbor) I could sit through this one without getting restless.

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