The world's favorite adventurer is back for more! Much more!
In 1986, Paul Hogan set the character of Mick "Crocodile" Dundee upon the world in a charming, good-hearted merry retelling of Aesop's "The City Mouse and The Country Mouse" (City Mouse always demanded top billing). This involved the streetwise and intrepid city reporter Sue Charlton (Linda Kozlowski) heading to Australia's outback to write an article on the erstwhile crocodile poacher who turned out to be a legend in his own mind. She then invited him to return to New York City with her since it was quite obvious that there are no large cities in Australia to go to. They then had all sorts of zany adventures and eventually fell in love, charming movie audiences out of over $100 million (a miracle considering the movie was filmed for about $254, not including the $50 spent on New York "hot dogs"), wrecking Paul Hogan's marriage and furthering his career as a Subaru salesman.
Naturally, when a film breaks the $100 million barrier, a sequel is imminent, and this held equally true for the booming Crocodile Dundee franchise. There are always high expectations for sequels which are typically shattered about five minutes after you've paid the cold, hard cash for your ticket and the theater lights go out, but Crocodile Dundee II is, in the immortal words of the late great Douglas Adams, "mostly harmless."
Facts of the Case
The movie picks up some unknown amount of time after Crocodile Dundee ends and we learn that Mick and Sue have shacked up together, but Mick misses his freewheeling life in the outback, an angst he exhibits by fishing in New York harbor with dynamite. While this is normally a capitol offense to any normal person, New York City's finest laugh it off because it's that wacky and zany foreigner fishing in a way that only a wacky and zany foreigner would. You'd think Mick was the first immigrant ever to set foot in New York City by the way the police treat him, but I digress.
Meanwhile, the movie has some sort of a plot in the form of Sue's ex-husband (or ex-boyfriend or other such nonsense) taking some pictures of a mean and evil drug lord, Rico (Hechter Ubarry) shooting someone in the head. This likewise happens to Sue's ex when Rico and his henchmen descend upon his hotel room with the utter precision that the CIA would have, but it turns out he had the sense to mail the film to Sue before he was killed.
Rico and his men, despite being wanted killers and drug dealers, enter the United States and kidnap Sue. Apparently, they were the second and third immigrants seen in New York City so the authorities thought it only natural to let them in. They contact Mick and offer a trade—her life for the film, which the U.S. Postal Service seemingly delivered in record time.
Rico and Sue share some screen time during which she sneers disdainfully at him over a lobster dinner. This was something that didn't quite sit right with me considering her admitted enjoyment of narcotics in the first film. Maybe I'll cut her a break since Rico killed her ex.
Mick then enlists the aid of the "coolest" gang in New York City to help him rescue Sue. By "coolest" they mean "a group of pansies dressed up like Michael Jackson, Iggy Pop and Boy George wannabes." If there ever was a gang in New York City that dressed like this, they got their asses kicked about five minutes after taking over their first street corner and were buried with Hoffa. Trust me on this one.
Sue gets rescued and Rico and his men escape, but Sue's life remains in danger and the whole protective custody thing probably isn't going to work, so Mick hatches a cunning plan. They'll go back to Australia where he can hide her on his vast plot of land that seems like it consists of about five full acres of swamp.
The drug dealers follow, naturally, and they have all sorts of witty adventures as Mick disposes of them by using the weapons nature provides. He's sort of a Steve Irwin: Crocodile Hunter with super powers kind of guy, only not nearly as cool.
When I say that Crocodile Dundee II is "mostly harmless" I mean just that. The movie is pretty inoffensive in the sense that jokes are not mean-spirited, there's no toilet humor and there's not really a whole lot of violence. This also means that the movie is relatively dull and uninteresting. The whole idea of actually having some sort of a plot to turn a light-hearted comedy into a semi-action movie might have seemed like a good idea on paper, but the film fails at finding a balance between either of the two and subsequently flounders about without any sense of direction. These problems may have been caused by trying to make the sequel "bigger and better" than the first film, which is one of the largest problems with sequels. Most of the humor winds up being tragically forced with action pausing for moments of inflection or witty dialogue. This merely adds to the level of choppiness already being experienced.
Adding to the uneven flow of the film is the formula set by the first movie, and that would be the "Two Movies In One" feel with two vastly different locations as the backdrop. For the sequel the locations were simply reversed and as such we have two very different halves of the film. The half of the film taking place in New York City is pretty horrible, actually, with a solid improvement once moving the story to Australia. This is not, mind you, enough to save the movie.
As far as acting goes, this is really Paul Hogan's show. He's charming and witty enough, I suppose, but he's not an actor with a great deal of range. He professes his love to Sue with the same level of emotion that he does to sell Subarus. ("I love you, Sue, and you handle well around the corners.") Ultimately he tries to get by solely on his charm and he mostly succeeds at this. The rest of the cast is pretty bad, however. Linda Kozlowski is kind of a "Sharon Stone Lite" in the sense that she looks kind of like Sharon Stone, sounds kind of like Sharon Stone and acts kind of like Sharon Stone, but doesn't have the beauty or acting chops of Sharon Stone. I won't go into the trite portrayals of Colombian drug lords.
The DVD itself is granted a pretty decent transfer considering this film was made in the '80s. There are problems with some graininess and such, but I found this to be a remarkably clean print. It won't make your jaw drop at any point, but if you like this film you won't be disappointed, either. The audio is also equally passable. The 5.1 Dolby Digital remix doesn't fully utilize all of the channels at all times, but there are a couple decent points in the film where the mix stands out. Again, this won't be the DVD you use to show off your system with, but you won't be angry at Paramount for their efforts. As far as the special features go you get a trailer and a behind the scenes featurette. With a suggested retail of $25, I'm not entirely sure this is worth it.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
In all fairness there are a couple of decent laughs in Crocodile Dundee II, so I never really felt like I was wasting my life away by watching the film. I'll stress as far as I can without actually endorsing the film that there are certainly worse ways to spend your time, but I wouldn't necessarily want to search this film out on the racks at the local Rental Megastore, either. "Mostly harmless" continues to be a fair assessment.
The Crocodile Dundee films took a charming advertising star and made his face recognizable just about everywhere and allowed him to do a couple of cheesy sequels. And I say, "Huzzah! More power to him!" To this day Paul Hogan spends his time living out his dreams of shilling SUVs on television and he remains married to the mostly talentless but I'm sure utterly charming in real life Linda Kozlowski. Meanwhile, City Mouse has gone on to star in other vehicles such as Mouse Hunt and Stuart Little, and his embittered cousin Country Mouse was devoured by an owl.
Crocodile Dundee II is guilty of being a subpar sequel, but is found innocent on other charges on the grounds that it's pretty inoffensive fair. Paramount is free to go on the grounds of a decent transfer, but held in contempt for their pricing scheme.
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What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
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