An animated odd-couple cop flick? A muddle of family melodrama and gross-out comedy? Osmosis Jones is both: a failed comic crazy quilt of bland cartoon adventure and disgusting live action.
Frank Pepperidge (Bill Murray) could get a certificate as the world’s-grossest dad. His young daughter Shane (Elena Franklin) bravely suffers most of his nastiness. But when her zoo-worker father reclaims his boiled egg from a grasping, butt-scratching chimp, she has to protest. Frank pops the tainted egg into his garbage-disposal mouth, chews it down and the fantastic voyage into “Frank City” sets off.
Osmosis Jones (the voice of Chris Rock) would be a complete comic cliché of a Hollywood renegade cop if he wasn’t a cool, cartoon white-blood cell. Ozzy pushed the puke panic button on a bad-oyster scare, losing Frank his executive job. Now he’s busted down to the mouth, policing the gum line. That’s where Oz finds evidence of the evil innards-scourging virus Thrax (the voice of Laurence Fishburne). Jones is on the case, but Mayor Phlegmming (the voice of William Shatner) and his sexy administrative assistant Leah (the voice of Brandy Norwood) can’t afford another snafu during Phlegmming’s reelection campaign. He partners Jones with Drixonal (the voice of David Hyde Pierce), a Robo Cop-ish cold capsule. Can a white blood cell and an over-the-counter medication save Frank from Thrax (aka the Red Death)?
Osmosis Jones attempts to be as clever and hip as its shades-wearing and goateed single-celled hero. But it fails. Its takes on popular movies (from Airplane! to Titanic) fall as flat as its derivative animation. Saccharine Leah is an ineffective antidote to her disgusting father, until the climax lamely plucks at our heartstrings. It’s too little, too late. It seems neither laughter nor tears can be passed through osmosis.
Visit the official Osmosis Jones Web site at osmosisjones.warnerbros.com.
E-mail James Keith La Croix at [email protected].