Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
|Featuring:||Bill Murray, Molly Shannon, Elena Franklin, Chris Elliott, Chris Rock|
|Director:||Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Piet Kroon, Tom Sito|
|Producer:||Bradley Thomas, Bobby Farrelly, Dennis Edwards, Peter Farrelly, Zak Penn|
A film that deals with germ warfare inside the human body could be funny. A film that stars Bill Murray (“Groundhog Day”) should be funny. The problem is the shape of films today is relentlessly tailored by demographics. The studios want to be “all things to all people” and only offend some. Our brains are now crash-test dummies for the ever-changing boundaries of America’s Dream Factory. My question is “are we content to be dumb and dumber?”
When “Osmosis Jones” (the Farrelly brothers summer-2001 release) was submitted to the MPAA for a rating, it was given a PG-13 for the gross bodily humor and offensive language. So it was back to the editing room. One of the scenes cut depicted a conversation between sperm cells. You can almost guarantee that that will be on the DVD version.
The Farrelly brothers (“There’s Something About Mary,” “Me, Myself, and Irene”) try to recycle the 1966 classic “Fantastic Voyage”. Peter and Bobby may well have learned something in Biology 101 at La Salle Academy. But their idea behind “Osmosis Jones” worked better in Steven Spielberg’s “Innerspace”. Martin Short was a lot funnier than Bill Murray.
Our story is about an unsuspecting clod named Frank Pepperidge (Bill Murray). Frank is a widower and a single father presently employed at a zoo. His workplace becomes the backdrop for giving us the dirt on how Frank gets infected by a virus. Shane (Elena Franklin), his daughter, is trying to convince her dad to eat right and get some exercise. Frank is busy creating a cholesterol and sodium fix (mayo and salt on a boiled egg). His problems begin when he drops the egg outside a monkey’s cage. No problem—you have TEN seconds to pick up dropped food before it is infected, right? Ignoring Shane’s disgust, Frank eats the egg and introduces a deadly virus into his body. The daughter’s concern for her dad’s health is one of the positive elements in the film. (The story strongly implies that they lost their mother/wife because of poor dietary choices. The lesson is that we all could benefit from a healthier lifestyle.)
“Osmosis…” quickly shifts to the unsuspecting world inside Frank’s body. It is a whole new animated world of Frank. Every organ and every body part is a different section of this biological city. Here we are introduced to a white blood cell cop named Osmosis Jones (voice by Chris Rock). OJ has been an embarrassment for the police force. He is always being called into the chief’s (voice by Joel Silver) office. It is his job to help track down and fight bacteria and viruses in the body. Jones believes that the egg introduced a virus to Frank’s body, but he is like the boy who cried “wolf!” No one is taking him seriously. OJ is later assisted in his efforts by a 24-hour cold pill named Drix (voice by David Hyde Pierce). The virus, Thrax (voice by Laurnece Fishburne), is out to set a record and kill Frank in 48 hours (or by the end of the movie). The animators did an outstanding job convincing us of Thrax villainous intent. Jones’s greatest opposition is from the Mayor Flemming (voice by William Shatner). He is trying to maintain the status quo and win a re-election race against a challenger named Tom Colonic (voice by Ron Howard). The scenes inside this world are extremely busy. There are a plethora of signs and billboards leaving no pause to take it all in.
The world of Frank on the outside is not nearly as interesting. There are a few comedic moments. Let’s just say Frank gives a whole new meaning to parents embarrassing their children. His lifestyle even affects his daughter’s relationship with her teacher, Mrs. Boyd (Molly Shannon).
Some of the lessons to be learned from this film include the care one should take for the body. Our children should never have to become advocates for the health of their parents. I must warn you that there are some negative elements in this film. Firstly, the Farrelly brothers had to rework the profanity in the movie to appeal the initial PG-13 rating. So, they changed most of it to just sound like you heard a curse word. This deceptive factor does not make this a constructive influence for the audience (our children) that the Farrelly’s wanted to target. Secondly, the animated character of Leah (voice by Brandy Norwood) has on a mini that leaves nothing for the imagination. Those two factors could have a toxic effect on young minds. Age recommendations are for those 12 (yes, they will love all the adolescent gross out stuff) and up. But an even better recommendation for young minds would be the Magic School Bus’ “Inside Ralphie”.
Instead of watching what goes on inside of Frank, my choice would be to make a nice big dinner salad and then take a walk with the family. You may experience more positive Osmosis than seeing this so-so film. The good news is that none of the information on THIS film will be on a test.