Wednesday, September 18, 2002

The Movie I Watched Last Night XXXIX
Osmosis Jones
I had no idea that this was an animated and a live-action movie. I'd imagined it as some sort of an Earthworm Jim-meets-Iron Giant children's film, but au contraire, mes freres, this is not the case. Instead, it's several things rolled up into one. First of all, it's a Farrelly brothers movie, so you can expect some degree of gross-out humor. Secondly, it's half live-action and half cartoon, taking on the format previously set by movies such as Cool World and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, albeit not mixing the media. Thirdly, it's your stereotypical buddy/cop movie in which Chris Rock and David Hyde Pierce offer voice services for the misunderstood, badazz rebel local officer -- and the stick-in-the-mud, unaware outsider who's brought in to save the day. All of that adds up to a rather generic movie devoid of any particularly interesting animation, but Osmosis Jones does serve up some intriguing concepts worthy of any science-fiction author.The concept that excited me the most was that our bodies' immune systems are in fact squadrons of police. Our bodies are cities overseen -- and sometimes -- overrun by a mayor and political administration. And diseases, the illnesses we get -- or the hardcore Thrax voiced by Laurence Fishburne -- are criminals staging a heist, in this film, of the body part that regulates our temperature. Fun ideas. What bothered me was that an illness would probably be better represented by a mindless horde or army of germs rather than an individual mephistophelean bad guy. And the live-action sequences, dominated by a sloppy Bill Murray, a dismissable Chris Elliott, and a tangential Molly Shannon, do little to augment or improve the cartoon -- although they do set the stage for the battle waged in Murray's body. Other interesting tidbits include voiceover work by William Shatner, a musical sequence featuring Kid Rock, Joe C, and Uncle Kracker (ho hum), and a wonderful election advertisement positioning Ron Howard as the out with the old/in with the new Tom Colonic. Not quite what it could have been, but given its wide range of inspirations, not bad for what it is.

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