When I first heard that they were making a third Crocodile Dundee film my first thought was of course, “What took them this long?” Actually, the preview looked pretty good – there was a scene where an aboriginal tribeman talks on a cell phone, and one where Paul Hogan reprises his signature gag by spearing a mechanical anaconda with his knife. Damn, I gotta see this one in a theater!
The plot is straightforward: Mr. Hogan’s character – Mick “Crocodile” Dundee – lives in the Australian outback with his common-law life-partner Sue, played by a certain grossly overdressed Ms. Linda Kozlowski (making her fourth appearance in a movie with Mr. Hogan – an illustrious post-modern comedy duo). Mick and Sue have a bastard child, Mickey. Sue gets a phone call. Mick and Sue move to Los Angeles. Mick gets a job at Paramount (I’m not kidding.). Et cetera.
The cast is rounded out by Paul Rodriquez, Mike Tyson (as a soothing touchy-feely meditation guru), George Hamilton (as a coffee colonic advocate), and veteren television actor Jere Burns as a sleazy studio executive who is smuggling Eastern European paintings into the states to make a little moolah. That last bit sets up the main “plot” of the film – but who the hell cares. We’re not here to watch “L.A. Confidential” – bring on the racist, sexist, and homophobic fish-out-of-water jokes – which Mr. Hogan effortlessly delivers in this rags-to-riches fairy tale of a humble bushman who becomes studio animal wrangler.
The pervading theme of the film – and one that adds a bit of freshness to it – is that we live in a media saturated global community. (Astute readers should note that Mr. Hogan is a savvy businessman who owns a chain of successful cybercafes in Australia.) There is the aforementioned scene with the cell phone, but clearly the best and most telling scene in the film is an elaborate set piece in which Mick and Mickey stop on the freeway – much to the chagrin of fellow motorists – to help a stray animal. This selfless act consequently brings out scores of LAPD squad cars, cops in riot gear, and thundering television news helicopters. The message is clear: Our lives are a spectacle – or as Mr. Hogan’s character notes early in the film – he is “the entertainment.” Welcome to L.A., Mick.
Truth be told, I can relate to this movie. I just moved to Los Angeles myself, and am experiencing that same “fish out of water” syndrome as Mr. Hogan’s character. Which is why I’m more critical of this film than the other “Dundee” films in the trilogy. And while the movie itself was actually satisfying for a weekend matinee, the ending left me vaguely dissatisfied.
Sure, the film has the requisite money shot – a rapid-fire montage introduces the audience to LAX, Third Street Promenade, and freeway after freeway – but what I paid six bucks to see was that part – near the end – which never materializes. You know the part. The part where Mick Dundee meets a studio producer – perhaps played by Ben Affleck or Tony Goldwyn – who realizes that his story should be brought to the screen – for Paramount of course. The coda and final scene of the film of course would be Mr. Hogan and Ms. Kozlowski on their honeymoon in Australia – in a darkened theater – watching a straight re-enactment of the entire “Crocodile Dundee” trilogy – directed by P.T. Anderson, with Phillip Baker Hall playing Mr. Hogan’s character, Gweneth Paltrow as his perpetually overdressed American girlfriend, and Phillip Seymore Hoffman as his arch-nemesis. And they would all die in the end.