Whenever a movie involves a kangaroo, which in my opinion is not often enough, it’s an exercise in extremes. Either said movie is extremely bad or extremely good, the kangaroo extremely ugly or extremely cute, the human co-stars extremely talented or lifelong second bananas. Kangaroos are an untapped resource in Hollywood, what with the widely held belief that they’re cute and cuddly (thanks, Winnie the Pooh) and the reality that they’re bristly and hideous. My delight upon discovering that Kangaroo Jack involves not only a kangaroo but also Christopher Walken was second only to the time I pulled a decal tattoo of Fidel Castro out of a box of Cracker Jack.
Unfortunately for Kangaroo Jack, Walken and the kangaroo get a fairly equal amount of screen time, which is to say not much at all. The kangaroo is almost an afterthought, present to lend the idiotic plot a bit of Aussie kick, showing up every 10 minutes or so to remind us that there really is a kangaroo in this movie, albeit a computer-generated one. Kangaroo Jack is actually a buddies-on-the-run Mafia comedy, in which best friends Charlie Carbone (Jerry O’Connell) and Louis Fucci (Anthony Anderson) are shipped off by Charlie’s step-dad (Walken) to deliver a package full of cash to his nasty Australian associate.
When the pair arrives in the land down under — and it only takes 15 minutes for the Men at Work song of the same name to blare over the sound track — they run over a kangaroo in their rental car. While goofing around with the presumably dead animal (prime for a PETA protest on so many levels) and dubbing it “Jackie Legs” because it reminds them of a minor Mafioso back home, Louis begs his friend to take a picture of the kangaroo wearing his lucky red jacket. Charlie obliges, but the ’roo turns out to be playing possum and hops off into the distance with Louis’ coat. Naturally Louis had earlier stuffed the package containing the money in his coat pocket, so after much contemplation of suicide the two pals head for the nearest bar, down a couple of Fosters and set off in search of the missing moolah.
Directed by Coyote Ugly helmer David McNally and produced by none other than Jerry Bruckheimer, Kangaroo Jack is basically Charlie’s Angels if that movie starred O’Connell, Anderson and Estella Warren and involved the Angels chasing a kangaroo across Australia. In other words, although McNally shoots Jack in that trendy slo-mo/fast-mo/thumping sound track style, his movie remains both boring and ridiculous.
Erin Podolsky writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].