Warner Bros. // 2003 // 89 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Elizabeth Skipper (Retired) // July 25th, 2003
"If I didn't know you better, I'd say this is a honey of a plan."
Hell froze over and pigs flew past my window as I found myself completely sober and not just tolerating, but actually enjoying, Kangaroo Jack.
Ever since his near-drowning 20 years ago, Charlie Carbone (Jerry O'Connell, Joe's Apartment, Tomcats, Sliders) has been indebted to his savior, Louis Booker (Anthony Anderson, Me, Myself & Irene, Barbershop). So when Louis asks Charlie for yet another favor, Charlie must oblige and help him deliver a truckload of TVs. Unfortunately, as often happens with Louis, there are a few flaws in the plan: the TVs are stolen property and so is the truck. Soon the police are in hot pursuit and Louis, panicking, inadvertently leads them to an unmarked warehouse, which turns out to belong to Charlie's stepfather, Sal Maggio (Christopher Walken, The Deer Hunter, Suicide Kings, Catch Me If You Can). And, oops, dear old stepdad is a mob boss and his warehouse is filled with over $4 million worth of stolen goods.
To help pay their debt to Sal, Charlie and Louis are sent to Australia's Outback to deliver an envelope to Mr. Smith (Marton Csokas, xXx). While on the plane, Louis' curiosity gets the better of him and he opens the envelope to find $50,000, which he stashes in his jacket pocket in order to make it through customs. The two rent a jeep and are happily driving along to Men at Work's "Down Under" when they hit and (they think) kill a kangaroo that has, it turns out, an amazing resemblance to one of their buddies, Jackie Legs. Struck by the similarity, Charlie and Louis take a few pictures with the 'roo, even going so far as to dress it in Louis' lucky red jacket. That, as luck would have it, is not such a good idea. The animal wakes up mid-photo-session and hops off, cash-filled jacket and all.
Charlie and Louis take off after him and, after a narrow miss, crash the jeep beyond repair. They walk to a pub in the nearest town and call Mr. Smith with the bad news. Caller ID informs him of their whereabouts and he starts after them, but not before alerting Sal, who sends Frankie Lombardo (Michael Shannon, High Crimes, 8 Mile) to deal with the situation. Meanwhile, Louis seeks out an expert opinion in the form of Jessie (Estella Warren, Driven, Planet of the Apes (2001)), an employee of the Outback Wildlife Foundation. She gives the two a tranquilizer gun and advises them to hire a bush plane to search for their fugitive kangaroo.
Thus, with Mr. Smith and Frankie Lombardo on their trail and one dart in their tranquilizer gun, Charlie and Louis begin their wild-kangaroo chase. What could possibly go wrong?
Please understand how loathe I am to admit that I enjoyed this movie. I expected to hate it; I wanted to hate it. I had all sorts of terrifically witty insults ready to hurl at it as an expression of this hatred. But then a small laugh escaped my lips, then another. Then I found myself expectant, eager to see what would occur next. What? How could this happen? Have I lost all sense of good and evil, right and wrong? Will I become the Judge who actually recommended Kangaroo Jack? We appear to be heading in that direction...
Lest you think me completely off my rocker, I should explain that I'm judging this movie as what it is, a kids' movie. Of course I didn't find the camel fart scene funnier than, say, Monty Python, but I don't doubt that a 12-year-old boy would. And, as an adult (most of the time), I still enjoyed the movie enough to recommend it to those of you who have made it through puberty already.
If you ask me, Kangaroo Jack was not marketed properly in the first place. Previews showed a movie about a talking, dancing, rapping kangaroo and the humans who love it -- in other words, a movie I would avoid like the plague. Instead, it's a family-friendly (though not as friendly as its PG rating might imply, but we'll get to that shortly) buddy comedy that happens to involve a search for a kangaroo. Yes, this kangaroo does talk, dance, and rap, but only for about a minute and a half as part of a dream sequence. The rest of the movie is pleasantly free of such anthropomorphism.
What the rest of the movie is chock-full of, though, is Jerry O'Connell and Anthony Anderson, whose onscreen chemistry rivals that of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Anderson is so ridiculous it's comical, and O'Connell plays a perfect straight man in the midst of his stylings. The witty banter, the physical comedy, even the toilet humor is well executed by these two actors.
My experience watching Kangaroo Jack was made all the more enjoyable by the exquisite transfers. The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 ratio, enhanced for widescreen. The colors are rich, the blacks are sharp, and I saw no errors to mar the beautiful depiction of the Outback. As well, the disc includes a high-quality Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track with clear dialogue and resonant music.
Keeping with the quality of the rest of disc, the extras are comprehensive and impressive. They comprise:
* Mock animal casting sessions for the role of Kangaroo Jack
* A behind-the-scenes look at how the camel fart noises were created
* A how-to video of Kangaroo Jack's dance moves
* Outtakes and gags
* An exploration of how both puppets and computer graphics were used to create Kangaroo Jack
* The theatrical trailer
* Text highlights of the cast and crew's careers
* Commentary on selected scenes by Kangaroo Jack himself
* An audio commentary track with director David McNally, Estella Warren, Anthony Anderson, Jerry O'Connell, and visual effects supervisor Hoyt Yeatman
My only complaint about Kangaroo Jack, which I alluded to above, is that I don't agree with the PG rating. With a couple uses of the word "ass," a mention of "testicles," and a scene that includes Charlie squeezing Jessie's breasts, I doubt most parents would approve of the movie for children younger than about 12 or 13. Not having children myself, I may be mistaken, but be forewarned that Kangaroo Jack is not as innocent its rating implies.
I'll say it again: I didn't expect to enjoy this movie, but, surprise, I did. Therefore I heartily recommend it to anyone and everyone. Especially if you have children of an appropriate age, but even if you don't, buy this movie or at least give it a rental.
Kangaroo Jack is cleared of all previous charges. But it is found guilty of ruining my credibility as a reviewer. Considering the punishment it's already suffered, though, I hereby sentence the movie to time served.
Review content copyright © 2003 Elizabeth Skipper; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Golden Gavel 2003 Nominee
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Audio Commentary with Director David McNally, Estella Warren, Anthony Anderson, Jerry O'Connell, and Visual Effects Supervisor Hoyt Yeatman
* Audio Commentary with Kangaroo Jack
* "Animal Casting Sessions -- Uncut"
* "Behind the Gas"
* "Jackie Legs Dance Grooves"
* "Marsupial Magic"
* Theatrical Trailer
* Cast and Crew Selected Film Highlights
* Official Site