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Kangaroo Jack By Matt Singer
If I had several million dollars and was approached by someone with an idea for a movie involving Jerry O’Connell, kangaroos, and the Mafia, I would fake the best smile I could and back away slowly. Jerry Bruckheimer, on the other hand, deemed this idea worthy and produced it. From the first time I saw the trailer I questioned his mental health. Now having seen the finished product, I’m ready to commit him.
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Though you can make out some of the details from the commercials, they actually ignore most of the unusual plot. O’Connell’s character Charlie is the stepson to a big crime boss Sal, played by Christopher Walken doing his best Christopher Walken impression. After Charlie and his always-in-trouble buddy Louis (Anthony Anderson) accidentally alert the cops to Sal’s activities in the most illogical chase scene in recent memory - and I remember Rollerball - Sal demands repayment. Begrudgingly, Charlie and Louis agree to deliver a package to the Australian Outback for Sal.
Driving through the desert, Charlie and Louis run over a kangaroo, and since they’ve never seen the nearly identical scene in Tommy Boy, they put the kangaroo in their jeep, dress it in a sweatshirt, and give it all their money. Then, as you surely know by now, the kangaroo - which they dub Jackie Legs instead of Kangaroo Jack - hops off with the dough, and the two dopes have to chase it all the way to the end of the movie. Along the way they pick up Estella Warren, playing an American who is working at a Wildlife Outpost (if you care, there’s no reason given how she wound up there), who provides the animal knowledge necessary for the plot, and the mildly suggestive sexuality necessary for teenage males who would otherwise refuse to see the movie.
Though the movie is named after the kangaroo, the movie is mostly O’Connell and Anderson getting into wacky misadventures in an Australia that frequently looks more computer generated than Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth. The kangaroo, who only speaks and raps in hallucinations and dreams, is only called by titular name once, and while he’s cute, doesn’t do a whole lot. Throughout there are some really spot-on fart jokes, hot candy jokes, and in case the fart jokes weren’t enough, poop jokes. To call Kangaroo Jack childish is to pay it an undue compliment.
Kangaroo Jack has already made a bunch of money at the box office, which I would attribute to an aggressive and effective marketing campaign that made kids interested in seeing a rapping kangaroo (Children, being children, are stupid things) but I don’t think time will be kind to it. Its IMDb user rating is just above 2 out of 10, and on Rotten Tomatoes it has garnered positive reviews from only 9% of critics (To put that in perspective, Tom Green’s Freddy Got Fingered earned 10%). I must admit I laughed quite a bit at the movie, but only once or twice when I was supposed to; mostly I laughed when I considered that this movie, this confusing and utterly pointless thing, was actually made. And it got put into thousands of theaters. And I, like so many of my fellow Americans, paid to see it.