Despite the offbeat premise, Kangaroo Jack‘s every twist and turn has been plotted with sad desperation. Charlie Carbon (Jerry O’Connell) lives in New York and makes a living as a hairdresser. Here, his occupation is a mere narrative convenience; it paves the way for an endless string of jokes that challenge his masculinity and explains why he would have a pair of scissors stowed away in his back pocket during a crucial moment in the film. When Charlie and his best friend Louis Fucci (Anthony Anderson) arrive Down Under in order to deliver $50,000 to the mysterious Mr. Smith, Men at Work blares on the film’s soundtrack. They soon run over a kangaroo they affectionately dub “Jackie Legs,” which they dress up in Louis’s red jacket. When Jackie awakens and hops off with their stash, Charlie and Louis spend the duration of their stay chasing him down. Kangaroo Jack‘s Australian setting allows its characters to reference every film from the past 20 years that’s also taken place in the land down under. The shout-outs include: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, A Cry in the Dark and Crocodile Dundee. Not surprisingly, the filmmakers make no mention of Stephan Elliott’s flawed yet wildly inventive Welcome to Woop Woop, from which they have lazily borrowed the film’s premise. Bruckheimer & Co. have chosen to market Kangaroo Jack both as ethnic buddy yarn and kiddie diversion. O’Connell is the dorky white boy and Anderson is the quivering black man; their friendship is defined entirely by the color of their skin. As if fearing they would lose the younger sect, farting camels are inexplicably introduced midway through the film. If there’s any surprise here it’s that absolutely no mention has been made of Eucalyptus leaves, koala bears or boomerangs. Though Christopher Walken doesn’t dance on screen this time around, he still gets the best scene in the film: while waiting for his thugs to bring Charlie and Louis to his office, he works on his vocabulary via a cassette tutorial. The word? Amorphous. That Jackie Legs gets to repeatedly hop throughout the Outback to a signature song on the film’s soundtrack doesn’t make the mess of gay jokes, bizarro CGI, racial barbs and PG-rated romance (between O’Connell’s Charlie and Estella Warren’s American do-gooder) any less clunky and uninspired.
- David McNally
- Steve Bing, Scott Rosenberg
- Jerry O'Connell, Anthony Anderson, Estella Warren, Dyan Cannon, Michael Shannon, Marton Csokas, Christopher Walken
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