If you are like me and predisposed to laugh at vulgar humor involving farts, burps and boogers, you’ll like “Osmosis Jones.” And if you don’t, there’s still a lot to like. Bill Murray plays Frank, a loser zookeeper and single dad who is practically being raised by his pre-teen daughter Shane (Elena Franklin). When a bad germ makes its way into Frank’s overly abused stomach, we get a glimpse into the cartoon world that is Frank’s inner body. It’s here that we meet detective Osmosis Jones (Chris Rock), a white blood cell who blew it on a big case years ago and has never regained the trust of the citizens of Frank. The world of Frank’s body runs like a big city on the decline. Each organ is like a different part of the city with the Mayor Phlegmming’s (voiced by William Shatner) office in the brain or the sewers in the bowels. Osmosis is a hothead cop seeking redemption. This new killer virus threatens not only the citizens of Frank, but Frank himself who will perish if this bad bug is not stopped. Enter Drix (voiced by David Hyde Pierce) a time-released cold pill on a mission to prove his worth. Here’s where the animated storyline becomes a typical buddy cop picture, with Drix and Osmosis constantly at odds. But how typical can it be they’re tooling around in a car on blood streams acting as highways, stomachs acting as arrival ports for new germs and a urine-filled bladder as a departure point for those wishing to leave Frank? While the cat and mouse game in the animated universe takes place, the storyline in the real world follows Frank’s attempt to reconcile with his daughter.
So with an odd mix of animation and live action, does the film work overall? What makes the animated and live action stories fit well together is that each affects the other directly. The Farrely brothers (“There’s Something About Mary,” “Me, Myself and Irene”) directed the live-action sequences with the animation directed by the team of Piet Kroon and Tom Sito. You might think that one story might overshadow the other but they are each equally enjoyable. It also works not just as a welcome piece of family entertainment but also as an (don’t cringe) “educational” film. Remember those bizarre science films from the fifties and sixties that tried to teach kids about things like biology using anthropomorphized body organs? They call them “ephemeral” films now, but back when I was forced to watch these horribly outdated films in school via 16mm projectors, they were a welcome break from listening to a teacher dictate facts. I can’t think of a better way to teach today’s kids science than using the gross humor of the Farrely Brothers. The animation compliments the gross stuff in the real world provided by Bill Murray popping a zit or eating. In fact, Murray just eating is pretty damn sickening, no kidding.
Ultimately, OJ is a film for kids that adults will not be terribly bored sitting through. In fact, you’ll probably find yourself laughing at Bill Murray farting. I did.