Weeks ago, I saw a trailer for “Kangaroo Jack.” It started out with a bad premise and left me wanted to kill myself before the ending in which the computer generated kangaroo starts rapping in an Australian accent.
I prayed that was just a shtick for the trailer and that I would be spared the whole kangaroo rap in the film. Apparently there is no God.
Before the audience is treated to the excruciating kangaroo rap, the story opens with Charlie Carbone (Jerry O’Connell) helping out his long-time buddy Louis Fucci (Anthony Anderson) with a heist of stolen televisions. Charlie, whose stepfather Sal is one of the biggest crime bosses of New York, has rejected the gangster life in order to be a hairdresser. So why does he help Louis? Apparently Louis had saved his life once and Charlie became his Chewbacca to Louis’s Han Solo.
Of course, everything goes wrong in the heist as Charlie and Louis inadvertently lead the cops to Sal’s warehouse of stolen goods. Later, Sal takes pity on the two bumbling idiots and gives them a second chance – the opportunity to deliver a package to Australia.
While flying over the ocean, Louis looks in the package to discover it contains $50,000 in cash. Panicked that customs would find the cash, he stashes it in the pocket of his lucky jacket. Then, while on the road in Australia to meet their contact, they accidentally run over a kangaroo. Thinking it is dead, Charlie and Louis start to pose with it like insane tourists, even going as far as dressing it in a pair of sunglasses and Louis’s lucky jacket.
Ready for the next shocker? The kangaroo isn’t dead.
Big surprise. The kangaroo wakes up and flees with the lucky jacket – and the $50,000 – leaving Louis and Charlie to chase it across the Outback to recover the money before mobsters, to whom they were supposed to deliver it, catch them first. And the hilarity ensues… sort of.
“Kangaroo Jack” is presented as a kids’ film in the wacky tradition of “Three Ninjas” and other live-action screwball comedies. The only problem is that aside from an animated kangaroo, there isn’t much in the movie that is appropriate for kids. It has gangsters, guns, and criminals heroes. Other scenes, like Jerry O’Connell squeezing Estella Warren’s breasts during a heat-induced delirium isn’t exactly appropriate for the kiddies. And it’s not really funny either.
Director David McNally, the man who helmed Coyote Ugly, panders to producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s signature effects shots throughout, making it look like someone inadvertently spliced together sequences from Armageddon within a block of programming from Nickelodeon. Typical Bruckheimer styles such as ramping speed shots, crash zooms, and flashy title cards have an edginess that is completely out of place with the rest of the picture.
As I sat through the film, I kept hoping for a wacky “Cannonball Run” style cross-country race, and if the filmmakers had made the movie rumble along fast enough, it might have worked. However, the characters kept stopping and talking, reminding me that they had no depth, likeability, or intelligence.
Likewise, the acting is atrocious. Jerry O’Connell is so uncomfortable as a leading man; it can bring tears to your eyes. Sure, he can play the offbeat heroes in vehicles like “Sliders” and “Joe’s Apartment,” but as the sexy leading man, he just isn’t making it. Plus, his featured comedy scenes fall flat throughout. Anthony Anderson tries to carry him along by being even more extreme and out of control, but unfortunately he is just annoying and trying way too hard.
While the weak excuse for a heroine in the character of Jess (Estella Warren) is easy on the eyes – especially in her waterfall shower sequence – Warren has about as much personality as she did in Planet of the Apes.
Even when seasoned actors like Christopher Walken show up, their performance falls flat. Walken must have really needed the money. His scenes look like they were shot in a single day, and he appears to be holding his nose as he sloshes through his lines.
Finally, while I refuse to give the ending away, I will warn anyone who goes to this film to flee the theater before the credits roll. Normally, comedy bits and extra scenes over the credits are fun – even if the movie stinks. However, the “Kangaroo Jack” filmmakers don’t give us the pleasure. Run – don’t walk – from this film or you might end up watching a bad CGI character do a painful Dr. Evil impression.