He's one cell of a guy!
In summers filled with a gaggle of kids films, some movies come and go without much fanfare. Such was the case in the summer of 2001 with Peter and Bobby Farrelly's live action/animated comedy Osmosis Jones. Sinking like a stone at the box office, Osmosis Jones' clever story and humorous body gags weren't seen by many movie patrons. Thanks to the wonder of DVD viewers can now revisit this funny Warner Brothers film starring Bill Murray (Ghostbusters), Chris Elliot (Cabin Boy), Molly Shannon (Superstar) and the voice talents of Chris Rock (Dogma), Lawrence Fishburne (The Matrix), R&B sensation Brandy, and David Hyde Pierce (TV's Fraser).
Facts of the Case
Frank is the type of guy who eats mayonnaise-smeared eggs for breakfast, downs circus peanuts for lunch, and slurps up fried chicken for dinner. Needless to say, Frank is not the healthiest guy on the planet. His daughter has been pestering him for years to start exercising and eat healthier, but to no avail.
After wrestling a hardboiled egg from a monkey at the local zoo where he works (you have to see it to believe it), Frank accidentally ingests a deadly virus named Thrax (Fishburne) who is out to kill Frank as fast as he can. Protecting the "City Of Frank" (now we're inside Frank's body, which is told through animation) is an extensive police force led by a shifty one-celled mayor (voiced by William "Kirk" Shatner). One detective on the force is the disgraced Osmosis Jones (Rock), a good cop who once screwed up and has never been the same since. After getting partnered up with Drix (Pierce), a germ executing cold pill, Osmosis realizes that time is running out before Thrax makes his final move to kill off Frank!
Traveling all through Frank's sick body (including the lymph nodes, an infected toe, and a disgusting zit), Osmosis Jones and Drix must figure out how to stop the dastardly Thrax before Frank meets his maker!
Osmosis Jones is a film that will entertain both adults and children. What kid doesn't like a good joke about boogers or farts? And what adult doesn't like a movie starring Bill Murray and Chris Elliot?
I heartily enjoyed Osmosis Jones' clever take on the inside of the human body. The "City Of Frank" is just like our world except inhabited and run by amoebas, viruses, and white blood cells. Of course, the bad part of town is in the butt crack. The mob hangs out in the armpit. The romantic place to take a date is at the eyeball ("best view in town," one character notes). The film is filled with all kinds of little observations like these, and it makes the story all the more fun.
The Farrelly brothers directed the live portions of this film, while the animated sequences were directed by Piet Kroon and Tom Sito. Personally, I enjoyed the animated sequences (which often reminded me of Space Jam) more than the live action ones, if only because there seems to be more life pumped into the drawings than the real life characters. While Bill Murray is funny, he isn't used to his full comedic extent. Chris Elliot is wasted as a weird cigar-chomping uncle with long hair and goofy clothes. Some of these live scenes sometimes feel like leftovers from some other Farrelly brothers movie. The animated story, however, is brimming with all kinds of colorful life and excitement. Chris Rock does a great job as lead character Osmosis, quipping funny remarks all over the place that are sharp enough to be funny, but soft enough not to be deemed offensive for children. David Hyde Pierce as his sidekick Drix is also good, though his character tends to come secondary to Rock's Osmosis. William Shatner is given the chance to chew up the scenery a bit as the selfish mayor of Frank, and Lawrence Fishburne is effectively cool and mean as the super-virus villain Thrax.
I find it almost distressing that Osmosis Jones didn't find an audience during its theatrical run. Does this mean that kids aren't into snot jokes or body odor gags anymore? I doubt it. Unfortunately, I think that Osmosis Jones was lost among a bevy of high profile releases in 2001 and just became lost at sea. Osmosis Jones has sharp humor, some clever in-jokes (a "Matrix" style gag with Fishburne's character is priceless), and a lot of zippy energy. You really can't ask for more from a film that deals with the inner workings of Bill Murray's nostrils.
Osmosis Jones is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Warner has done a terrific job on this title. Seeing as this is a new release the transfer is sharp, clear and free of any major defects or imperfections. Only the slightest amount of edge enhancement showed up on the print, and it didn't detract from the viewing at all. An excellent looking print all around!
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 in French and English (as well as Dolby Digital 2.0 in Spanish). The 5.1 track is mixed very well, utilizing a wide array of directional effects and sounds (mainly during the animated sequences). Nothing says entertainment like having gastric juices and mucus bubbling around you in Dolby Digital surround sound. All aspects of the dialogue, effects, and music are clear of any distortion or hiss. Also included on this disc are English and French subtitles.
Osmosis Jones is filled up with some yicky extra features, starting off with a commentary track by animation directors Phet Kroon and Tom Sito, writer Marc Hyman, and producer Zak Penn. As expected, this is a very chatty track seeing as there are multiple participants participating in the discussion. There are a few lulls during some of the animation sequences, but overall it's a nice companion piece for production information on the making of the film.
Two "documentaries" are included, the first an "HBO First Look Special" hosted by Brandy (the voice of the Mayor's secretary and Osmosis Jones' love interest in the film). The basis for this featurette is basically promotion, though it does include some mildly interesting interviews with the cast and crew. Clips from the film are also included, making this HBO special somewhat fluffy. The second featurette is titled "Investigating The Vocal Chords" and is a semi-detailed (yet short) look at the voice talents and animation behind Osmosis Jones (to no one's surprise, Chris Rock did a lot of comedic improvising during his scenes). This is easily the better of the two documentaries, being much more informative and in-depth than the HBO feature.
Finally there are a few deleted scenes included that aren't quite finished (though are nice to have on the disc), as well as a theatrical trailer for Osmosis Jones and an interactive section titled "Frank's Gross Anatomy" which lets viewers jump to certain scenes taking place in certain parts of Frank's body.
Osmosis Jones is a great film for both kids and adults alike. If you don't like your child watching people suck snot back into their noses or zits popping on someone's face then you might want to steer clear of this movie. My only real complaint is that compared to something like Toy Story or Atlantis, Osmosis Jones looks a bit like retro animation. Otherwise, this is lighthearted fare that should please both gross-out and animation fans alike. Warner has done a terrific job on this disc with some gooey added supplements.
Osmosis Jones is free to go and protect my spleen and kidneys from harm!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Interactive Adventure: "Frank's Gross Anatomy"
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