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Osmosis Jones

Reviewed By Thom
Posted 08/03/01 19:03:12

"Totally unoriginal waste of good talent."
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

Gross out humour that 9 year old boys will dig, a plot thats basically a redux of some health ed film I saw on ABC one saturday morning in the 70's but ultimately it has a strong message about health and taking care of yourself. If you can watch this film without losing your lunch you'll come away thinking twice about what you put in your body.

The life cycle of disease is treated as an action adventure story complete with nefarious villian, hero who has to prove to others that he's not a loser by taking on the BIG CHALLENGE (ie. this virus called "Thrax") even though the whole system is working against his goals AND a romantic interest, a sexy female white blood cell who is, what else, a secretary. Molly Shannon has a tiny live action part that barely stretches her comedic talents. Bill Murray hardly does any comedy at all, and Chris Elliot's character is ironic but not to 9 year old boys.

It's a shame that Shannon, Murray and Elliot do nothing more for this film than fill screen space because they are three tremendously talented comedy actors. Their performances were milk toast at best. So don't go see this movie if you think you'll get some rockin' Molly Shannon, Bill Murray or Chris Elliot action. Their performances will not appeal to their fans. Chris Rock is the voice talent for Osmosis and Osmosis ends up being Chris Rock with jokes about being poor and the whole Chris Rock thing.

I liked that the donkey in Shrek, even though it was Eddie Murphy's voice, wasn't written as Eddie Murphy in donkey form. Rock just keeps repackaging his act even though we've seen him stretch himself in a film like Dogma to give us a different character. It'd be like Janeane Garofolo just doing her stage show in the disguise of every character she's ever played. It just gets old after a while. Do your stand up on stage, for HBO, Comedy Central, whatever. But when you make a movie, be an actor.

One thing I couldn't shake: I wonder ... why make a movie that is attracting kids with its young lead, its kid's eye view of the crazy world of grown-ups and then impress upon them the importance of a healthy diet?

Is this the summer public service announcement to make up for years of marketing sugar cereals alongside action figures?

It just seemed incomprehensible that Warner Brothers would make a film that is positioning carrots (heh, carrots ... What's up, Doc?) for the pre-teen set. Carrots don't even have a brand identity.

Osmosis Jones is clever as a cartoon. Thrax is wicked cool, young kids get a lesson in what nightlife is about and its a clever way to teach the rudimentaries, and I mean very rudimentary, of the immune system. I wouldn't call this film Health Ed by a longshot. Take all the novely out and you have just another tired old action/adventure film. Cue the dramatic music, this scene is "emotional".

It does have some great one liners and its pretty clever the way Frank's (Bill Murray) Body becomes a city run by a power hungry politico who'll stop at nothing to stay elected, even if it means killing the body.

And yes, this is a perfect metaphor for the Bush Administration.

At the end, when Osmosis is triumphant, there is no new government leadership, we only see the old leadership sweeping up in the Bowels. So that doesn't really give us or kids a model for what good leadership is and is only hinted at in the campaign ad for the guy running against the Mayor of Frank but that still comes off as a eleventh hour political propaganda. So that one important part of the film was left unresolved. Its not so much that we know what's right, its that we only know what's wrong. Perhaps listening to the people is better than being a fat cat who does nothing but protect his position all day. One blue collar cell reminds a coworker "Cells vote, ya know".

Now, kid's don't vote. The animated characters, Osmosis, The Mayor, A cold pill named "Drix" are all likeable and even hip urbanits. The humour is aimed more at nine year old boys, which seems like the films target audience, even though the whole film is from the point of view of a nine year old girl who wants to take good care of her body and worries that her father may die like her mother because he has such awful eating habits. And boy, is his diet ever disgusting.

You'd think if directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly (of the incredibly funny Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary) were going for novelty, they'd also come up with a novel plot. It seems all they are good for is parlor tricks but it rakes in the dough. And in this business, that's all that matters.

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