A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the DVD cover suggests that a funny kangaroo is a large part of the movie, but it's a brief highlight that appears only in a fantasy sequence. The movie has a great deal of material parents might consider inappropriate for children, including peril, violence and gunplay, a stepfather who orders his stepson killed, drinking to excess seen as impressive, drinking portrayed as a way to cope with problems, violence, potty humor, and a co-ed swim in underwear that leads to kissing. There's a sexist joke and the black character is portrayed in "sidekick" terms with no interest in having any kind of independent life or relationships. The "happy" ending is somewhat sour as the only character who had been doing something to contribute to improving the world appears to have abandoned that completely for a life of hedonistic pleasure.
What's the story?
Jerry O'Connell plays Charlie, the hairdresser stepson of Sal, a Brooklyn mob boss (Christopher Walken). His best friend is Louis (Anthony Anderson), who constantly wheedles him into all kinds of messes by reminding him of the time he saved Charlie's life when they were both eight years old. Charlie and Louis accidentally lead the police to a mob stash of stolen goods. Sal tells them that he would have them killed, but because of Charlie's mother, he is giving them another chance. He sends them to Australia with $50,000 cash, to be delivered to "Mr. Smith." Charlie and Louis hit a kangaroo with their jeep, and, thinking it is dead, dress it up in Louis' jacket to take pictures. But it hops away with the jacket -- and the $50,000, which is in the pocket. Charlie and Anthony chase after the kangaroo while they are being chased by Mr. Smith and the mob guys from back home.
Is it any good?
KANGAROO JACK is not just a very bad movie; it is a very bad movie that shows how inadequately the MPAA rating system handles the kinds of materials that are of concern to parents. This movie received a PG rating despite "humor" about topics that include masturbation, homosexuality, drinking and drunkenness, epilepsy, murder, grabbing a woman's breasts, the famous case where a dingo (wild Australian dog) ate a baby, a hit ordered by a mob boss on his stepson, and the ever-popular camel flatulence.
The action sequences are poorly staged, the jokes are staged even more poorly, the montages to rock music have no energy, and the acting ranges from mediocre to dreadful. Estella Warren, who plays the love interest, cannot act. The best performance is unquestionably that of the computer folks who designed the CGI kangaroo. Two positive notes are the long and and loyal inter-racial friendship and a strong, independent, brave, and capable woman.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: January 17, 2003
- On DVD or streaming: June 17, 2003
- Cast: Anthony Anderson, Christopher Walken, Jerry O'Connell
- Director: David McNally
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Adventures, Wild animals
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: language, crude humor, sensuality, and violence
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