Pittsburgh, PA
May 25, 2019
    News           Sports           Lifestyle           Classifieds           About Us
A & E
Tv Listings
The Dining Guide
Travel Getaways
Headlines by E-mail
Home >  A & E >  Movies/Videos Printer-friendly versionE-mail this story
'Kangaroo Jack'

'Kangaroo Jack' hops over the line

Friday, January 17, 2003

By Scott Mervis, Post-Gazette Weekend Editor

And now for the case of the marsupial with the image problem. There's no way you could watch the previews for "Kangaroo Jack" and not come away thinking it's a kids' movie about a talking kangaroo.


RATING: PG for language, crude humor, sensuality and violence..

STARRING: Jerry O'Connell, Anthony Anderson, Christopher Walken.

DIRECTOR: David McNally


Check local movie showtimes


But the first sign that you can throw the Happy Meal promotion out the window is the appearance of Christopher Walken.

The master of schizo arrives early on as a coldly maniacal mobster and stepfather to Charlie Carbone (Jerry O'Connell), a studly young hairdresser who gets mixed up in a scam with childhood buddy Louis Booker (Anthony Anderson), a chubby Fat Albert kind of character who means well but can't help but screw up.

Walken, the loser in this scam, doesn't have a lot of screen time, but he makes the most of it. If Charlie and Louis fail to deliver a package to Australia as a make-good, he's going to chop them up into crocodile snacks. There's a nice image for the kiddies.

Louis knows from the travel guides that there are some 20 million kangaroos hopping around the continent. They run into Jack. Literally. With their Jeep. Louis dresses the unconscious roo in his lucky red Brooklyn jacket and sunglasses thinking it would make a cute photo shoot -- which it does till Jack (so named for his resemblance to a mobster back home named Jackie Legs) wakes up and takes off with the $50,000 in the pocket.

It becomes a game of catch the kangaroo, not an easy thing to do in the rugged Outback, especially when (really, really scary) hit squads from two continents are on your trail.

The other thing you'd never know from the previews is that "Kangaroo Jack" is actually a pretty amusing comic adventure -- for teens -- thanks to Anderson as a lovable buffoon with no shortage of ideas.

O'Connell, a cross between Dennis Quaid and Dylan McDermott, has his moments, too, pursuing not only the kangaroo but also Jessie (Estella Warren), the blond knockout from the wildlife conservation who gets pulled into their scheme.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer calls it "good entertainment" for "the entire family." Indeed, if your idea of that is mobsters holding knives to people's throats, a violent police chase through Manhattan, a drinking contest at an Outback bar and Charlie copping a feel off of Jessie (just below the screen).

If it's not a PG-13, it's at least a strong PG-11. But that doesn't make it a bad movie, just one that's going to have a hard time finding its audience.

One more thing: Kangaroo Jack isn't really a talking kangaroo, despite the little hip-hop number in the previews. In fact, he seems to respond to things pretty much the way a kangaroo would. Not that we would know ...

Scott Mervis can be reached at smervis@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2576.

Back to top Back to top E-mail this story E-mail this story
Search | Contact Us |  Site Map | Terms of Use |  Privacy Policy |  Advertise | Help |  Corrections