CROCODILE DUNDEE IN LOS ANGELES
Rated PG - Running Time: 1:35 - Released 4/20/01
Although it starts and ends with nice music and beautiful Australian scenery, what comes between them shows that Crocodile Dundee In Los Angeles is little more than another low-rent ride on Paul Hogan's one-trick pony. Probably the most famous Aussie actor in the United States (not so fast Mel Gibson was born in New York; Russell Crowe in New Zealand), Hogan has built his megastardom on his 1986 smash Crocodile Dundee, and to a lesser extent its 1988 followup, CDII, producing a handful of forgettable films in the '90s before returning to his cash croc for a third go-round. The trouble is, the joke's sort of over. We all enjoyed what a fish out of water Mick Dundee was in New York city, and how his knife size compares to that of big city thugs, and how he taught us to say things like "g'day, mate" and "throw another shrimp on the barbie." But 15 years later, the Down Under jokes have gone stale, and the lame quality of the screenplay doesn't help matters any. Hogan is as affable and charming as ever, but his movie, directed by Free Willy helmsman Simon Wincer, isn't.
Reuniting Hogan yet again with two-time Dundee leading
lady Linda Kozlowski (who is now also Hogan's real-life leading
lady) as Mick's longtime reporter partner Sue Charlton, and with
his tired formula, this film boasts two new developments: this
time Croc travels to L.A. instead of New York, and this time he's
got a kid. The presence of pint-sized newcomer Serge Cockburn
as his son Mikey, who is a miniature version of Croc himself,
allows the 60-year-old Hogan to move from the ruggedly handsome
leading man mold into the loving father persona. It's about time.
But since Mikey is used only as a background character, there's
almost no point in having him around except to make the cute-seeking
audience members say, "Isn't it cute how that little boy
talks Australian?" His presence, however darling, has virtually
no bearing on the main plot.
That plot, penned by former Married...With Children
writers Matthew Berry and Eric Abrams in their first feature film
effort, involves a dippy crime-solving scenario in which Mick
creeps around the back lot of a fledgling studio to uncover corrupt
activity suspected by Sue and her boss at an L.A. newspaper. Having
been asked to fill in for a reporter who was mysteriously killed,
Sue begins interviewing Arnan Rothman (Jere Burns), the CEO of
Silvergate Pictures, currently under suspicion for producing three
bad movies in a row. (If that's a crime, I've got some citizen's
arrests to make. Insert rimshot.) While Rothman evades Sue's questions,
Mick gets a job as an extra in Silvergate's latest flick, where
he learns to say things like "dude" and "do lunch."
His uncanny ability to communicate with animals gets him promoted
to monkey wrangler, allowing him more access to the studio, where
he can poke around investigating that fishy smell. Oh, and his
kid catches a rat at school.
I suppose this is the best Hogan's done in years, since it's the role he and his audiences are most comfortable with. But the Berry/Adams script is clunky and unsubtle, with bad guys who repeatedly go unconscious whenever they are bumped on the head, and numerous instances where it is so obvious we are being treated to expository information, the characters might as well turn to the camera and say, "Did you get that, audience?" Moreover, director Wincer moves charmlessly from one CD gag to the next, with Hogan making some culture-related faux pas and his wife smiling apologetically to the confused American victim. Cute, but we saw it 15 years ago. **½