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Movie Review

Osmosis Jones

MPAA Rating: PG-Rating (MPAA) for bodily humor

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
12 to Adult
Animation Family Fantasy Action Adventure Comedy
1 hr. 35 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
August 10, 2001
Relevant Issues
Scene from “Osmosis Jones”
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
Distributor: Warner Brothers
Bill Murray and Chris Elliott in “Osmosis Jones”

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.)

Thrax, voice of Laurence Fishburne, in “Osmosis Jones” “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.

Viewer Comments
OSMOSIS JONES WAS A GREAT MOVIE! It was hilarious; the animation was great, and an all out good movie. When my friend, my little brother, and I went to see this movie, all were expecting a cute little movie with only a few good jokes to save the movie, but it wasn’t! It was a really funny kid’s movie! Not better than Shrek, but DEFINETLY worth every penny spent on that ticket. The only reason it was PG, was the bodily functions. (Hearing him urine, puke, snot, gas, and etc.) No language, no innuendo, a scene of fighting cells but not really objectionable. Even all the adults in the theatres were laughing through the movie. Bottom Line: SEE IT!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
Davie Powers, age 13
Osmosis Jones was an all right movie. There were no curse words that I can recall. The animation and things that went on inside of Frank were pretty cool. I think that if you know your anatomy well, you would probably pick up on a lot of humorous double meanings. A few of them went over my head. I thought overall the movie was pretty clever and the animated characters were enjoyable. Frank himself was such a slob that it was hard to really connect with his character. If you want to see a good matinee movie, this is it. And I believe that PG was the appropriate rating for this one. I did hate the soundtrack, though. Loud music that sounded kind of amateurish. But overall, I would recommend Osmosis Jones.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 2½]
Rena, age 35
This movie was really gross there are quite a few times when your in the theatre and you just have to look down cuz it is so gross. But on an up point there is no profanity or vulgarity, it’s a movie you could see with your little kids if you don’t mind the grossout points of the movie…
My Ratings: [2½]
CJ Gray, age 16
Osmosis Jones is clever and witty, but misses the mark morally and educationally. The concept of an animated battle among white blood cells and germs and diseases within one’s body is a fascinating story premise. Tied with the humor of live action via Billy Murray, and the voice of Chris Rock as Osmosis, one would think this would be a run away hit. Unfortunately, it’s not. Sure, it served up plenty of laughs, but also began throwing at us innuendos and animated jests that just weren’t necessary—especially for kids. Fortunately they miss most of it, but as Christians, my wife and I walked away from the theater with a certain uneasiness about the movie. It could have been better, it could have been cleaner, and it could have even been more educational emphasizing in a humorous way how our bodies combat germs and diseases (and the importance of eating well). If your looking for a wholesome animated movie, this one is not it.
My Ratings: [Average / 2½]
Paul G., age 35
Movie Critics
…With a warning about the body function humor, OSMOSIS JONES can be a fun and educational outing for ages 10 and up…
Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…all sorts of crude, body-based humor is present (including, but not limited to, jokes, dialogue and/or visual gags about exploding zits, vomiting, intestinal and bladder related material, etc.)…
…several euphemistic mispronunciations or rephrasings of common obscene or profane exclamations…
…fusion of Osmosis’ hip-hop stylings with the City’s look—call it gut-level Palm Springs Modern—is a canny, all-American master stroke…
Robert Koehler, Variety
…the animated [film] that takes place inside Frank—is okay. The other one, involving live actors and lots of gross-out bodily function humor—is less pleasant…
Cynthia Fuchs, PopMatters