|Written by Mel Odom|
|Tuesday, 24 June 2003|
The talking kangaroo with the Australian accent in the movie theater trailer promised a lot of fun to viewers interested in something they could take the kids to. Unfortunately, the movie isn’t about a cagey kangaroo with a caustic sense of humor and radical dance moves.
“Kangaroo Jack” announces itself as a buddy movie from the beginning, trekking back 20 years to Brooklyn to introduce Charlie Carbone and Louis Booker who became childhood friends that fateful day. The voice of the adult Charlie (Jerry O’Connell) comes from the left front speaker as he narrates the prologue, lending the film the feeling that it’s being presented as a home movie with our host sitting over to one side just out of sight.
In the prologue, Charlie’s mom is about to marry the don of the neighborhood Mafia, Salvatore Maggio (Christopher Walken), and Louis was working the beach area with a metal detector he’d rented from his uncle. Frankie Lombardo, who was even then growing up to be Sal’s right hand man, lobbed a football to Charlie, telling him to go deep. Unfortunately, but according to Frankie’s plans, Charlie ended up in the ocean, couldn’t swim, and was facing certain death when Louis came to the rescue. The music score shows up again as a major impact of the movie in this bit after establishing itself in the opening credits.
Chapter 2 fast-forwards to the present. Charlie now works as a hairdresser at a shop his stepfather the don has funded -- for 80 percent of the profits, of course. Louis (Anthony Anderson) shows up and tells Charlie he needs help moving a truckload of TVs. Charlie tries to turn Louis down, citing all the trouble that Louis’s get-rich-quick schemes have gotten him into over the years. Louis plays his trump card: the fact that he saved Charlie’s life all those years ago.
Charlie ends up helping Louis with a truckload of stolen TVs. Unfortunately, not even Louis’s lucky red Brooklyn jacket can keep them out of trouble. A police car pulls in behind them, then switches on the sirens and the lights. The chase that ensues breaks through the city and brings back memory of Axel Foley in “Beverly Hills Cop” as the merchandise spills through the intersections and streets. The music score bumps up the viewer investment as the sound throbs through the subwoofer and slams through the front, back and center speaker(s). The collisions and impacts ricochet through the surround sound system, placing the viewer in the middle of the blistering action. The sounds of traffic echo all around from the speakers.
After escaping the police, Charlie and Louis end up at a warehouse in Chapter 3. Unfortunately, the warehouse belongs to Sal. Charlie and Louis turn out to be totally luckless because they haven’t been able to shake to police pursuit. The police helicopter circles overhead and through the surround sound system. Threatening police voices rap out orders from the right front speaker. The helicopter goes in pursuit of a fleeing vehicle, peeling off through the left front speaker. Running for their freedom, and possibly their lives, Charlie and Louis know their dooms are sealed once Sal finds out what has happened.
Chapter 4 opens with Sal talking to Louis and Charlie as he watches news footage of the raid at his warehouse. Sal is upset and Charlie expects to get killed at any moment, despite the fact that his mother is married to the Mafia don. Instead, Sal offers a job and redemption: Charlie and Louis are to deliver a package for him to Sydney, Australia. Sal warns them not to look in the package.
Later, on the flight to Sydney in Chapter 5, the sidesplitting bathroom humor goes on to the point of no return, but stops just short of going on too long. During that time, Louis also tells Charlie that the package has $50,000 in it. What they’re doing has to be illegal.
Chapter 6 opens with a driving musical score that rouses the subwoofer and crashes through the surround sound system. The music continues in Chapter 7, rocking the viewer with “Land Down Under.” Only moments into what looks like a fun trip without Mafia influence, an explosion of sound throbs through the subwoofer. When Charlie and Louis get out, they discover they’ve hit a kangaroo. Believing they’ve killed the animal, Louis decides to dress it in his red Brooklyn jacket and sunglasses to take pictures. Unfortunately, during the impromptu photo session, the kangaroo recovers from being knocked out and makes his escape. Charlie thinks that Louis losing his prized Brooklyn jacket is hilarious—until Louis tells him that the $50,000 was in the pocket.
Louis and Charlie take off after the fleeing kangaroo. The music score during the chase thumps through the subwoofer. Louis and Charlie’s luck turns completely sour when they wreck their vehicle. Pebbles rain down around them, pouring through the surround sound system and placing the viewer in the center of the scene. Chapter 9 features the kangaroo dance, which rocks the surround sound system and guarantees laughter on part of viewers of any age.
With everything against them, Louis and Charlie discover how bad things can really be when the man they were supposed to give the money to comes hunting them. Before long, Frankie is flown in and the hunt really begins.
Chapter 11 features Charlie and Louis chasing the kangaroo in a biplane across the Australian wasteland. The thunder of the engines roars through the subwoofer as music rolls through the surround sound system. The plane passes across the screen from right front speaker to center speaker(s) to left front speaker.
Of course, the kangaroo proves too smart and too lucky for Louis and Charlie. Their quest becomes increasingly more complicated by their pursuers and the lengths they have to undertake to track the kangaroo down. The kangaroo doesn’t have life easy either, and the director gets a lot of mileage out of the jacket, as well as the candies Louis habitually carries in his pockets. The story progresses nicely, headed in a familiar direction, but the journey is a fun one because the actors and the director obviously love what they do.
The specials on the DVD contain a lot of footage. The animal auditions will entertain the younger viewers. The gags and outtakes carry a lot of extra laughs, especially after seeing the movie. The small bit about the gassy camels is light-hearted. One of the best pieces on the disc is Jacky Legs the kangaroo’s commentary on “his” parts in the movie. Jerry O’Connell, Anthony Anderson, Estella Warren and director David McNally and visual effects supervisor Hoyt Yeatman add several different dimensions to the overall enjoyment of the film for the viewers who wish to journey beyond the story experience of the movie.
“Kangaroo Jack” is a good movie for family viewing. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and his coterie seem to turn everything they touch to gold these days. The production company has found a groove in today’s audiences, and the creative people hold true to their vision. A single viewing may sate most people, so a rental may be more in order than purchasing the disc.