out of Five
Running time 89
With the exception of Skippy ("What's that, Skip? There's a kid stuck in a ravine?") and the Kanga-Roo combo from Winnie the Pooh, kangaroos haven't exactly taken Hollywood by storm over the years.
The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced comedy Kangaroo Jack may buck that trend, but don't expect a slew of marsupial movies to hop in its wake.
That's because, as lowest-common denominator popcorn pictures go, this takes some beating. It's also one of an increasing number of films - The Two Towers, Harry Potter, Attack of the Clones - where the CGI characters prove conspicuously more engaging than their human counterparts.
Mobsters And Thieving Kangaroos
Not that we see a lot of the titular kangaroo, aka "Jackie Legs", who makes his entrance considerably late in the game. Until then, we're stuck with Louis (Anthony Anderson) and Charlie (Jerry O’Connell), lifelong friends and smalltime criminals who are a constant thorn in the side of Charlie's mob kingpin stepdad Sal Maggio (Christopher Walken).
When Louis and Charlie accidentally lead the police to Sal's lock-up, he immediately packs them off to Australia to deliver $50,000 to one of his associates. But no sooner are our heroes in the Outback than they've ploughed their jeep into a 'roo.
For some bizarre reason, Louis decides to put his jacket on the dead animal. Bad idea! Jackie (so named because of a resemblance to one of Charlie's buddies in New York) isn't as dead as he appears and hops off - with the jacket on his back and the cash in his pocket.
The chase is on, with Charlie and Louis pursuing this unlikely thief by
road, plane and camel.
Crap And Distasteful
It would be hard to imagine a more risible premise, but with a bit of style and wit it could have worked. Unfortunately, both qualities are in short supply in David McNally's dopey follow-up to his barmaid caper Coyote Ugly.
Even more distasteful is the film's stereotypical depiction of Australians, represented here by Bill Hunter's inebriated bush pilot and David Ngoombujarra's eager-to-please Aboriginal tracker - a sort of Antipodean Uncle Tom.
The computer effects are used sparingly but still establish Jackie as a
lively character who even gets to rap during one wacky dream sequence.
No doubt he'll be back for the sequel. But can we leave the humans at home next time please?