Kangaroo Jack
Warner Bros. // PG // $26.98 // June 24, 2003
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted June 18, 2003
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The Movie:

"Kangaroo Jack" is about as bizarre a kids movie about a kangaroo who hops off with mob money can be. The film focuses on a Brooklyn hairdresser named Charlie (Jerry O'Connell) and his life-long friend Louis (Anthony Anderson, Barbershop). As the picture opens, Louis has pulled Charlie into another get-rich-quick plan involving televisions which may be stolen - being driven around in a truck, also stolen. They're chased around by the NYPD - sound like a good movie for kids yet? - and inadvertently lead the police to the warehouse of Charlie's mobster stepfather (Christopher Walken).

Said stepfather allows the two one more chance, if they can deliver mob money to Sydney, Australia. Driving around in the country, they accidentally hit a kangaroo. Rather than doing something smart, they put a jacket on the knocked-out animal that happens to contain the cash in the pocket. Said kangaroo happens to wake up, kick Charlie, and hop on its merry way, leaving the two idiots in the dust.

So sets into motion a series of chase sequences, as the two are joined by Jessie (Estella Warren), a beautiful local animal expert trying to help them out. That's about all there is to the plot. "Kangaroo Jack" did nothing for me, aside from make me fondly remember the kids films I grew up on. "Neverending Story". "Goonies". Films that were built upon a remarkable amount of inspiration and imagination. Movies whose scenes I still remember to this day.

Now what are kids presented with? In the case of "Kangaroo Jack", farting camels, drinking, stereotypes of Australians, occasional violence and - in a scene where Charlie is rescued by Jessie after wandering around in the desert - a moment where he grabs her breasts (and says "Hey, these feel really real!"). Gee, not exactly a good movie for kids.

Positives? Australia looks stunning anyways, but cinematographer Peter Menzies Jr. ("Tomb Raider") still manages to capture it wonderfully. Estella Warren turns in a charming, subtle performance in a movie where everyone else is playing things loud and cartoonish. She shows potential as an actress (although my opinion seems to be in the minority there), but keeps ending up in lousy movies. Speaking of cartoonish, the CGI kangaroo (who only talks in one scene and the end credits, not in the whole film, as the trailers sort of suggested) isn't done too badly. There's also a what-were-they-thinking? badness about much of "Jack" that makes the movie at least pass by quicker.


VIDEO: Like the movie or not, "Kangaroo Jack" looks simply stunning on this DVD presentation from Warner Brothers. Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, the picture is crisp and defined to the point of often appearing three-dimensional and "film-like". As mentioned, if there's anything positive about the flick, Australia looks stellar in the picture.

There's really little in the way of concerns present in the transfer. A little bit of edge enhancement was present here and there, but the majority of the movie was completely free of it. No compression artifacts were spotted, while the print looked entirely free of any specks or marks. Colors are rich, vivid and wonderfully well-saturated, with no concerns.

SOUND: This being a Bruckheimer film, "Kangaroo Jack" is presented with a pretty stellar Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Surrounds kick in heavily for reinforcement of the film's score, but also are put to use for considerable sound effects, including helicopter flyovers and more. Although not quite the sonic assault that's offered by the producer's action movies or even his "Coyote Ugly", this soundtrack still did offer a lot of activity. Audio quality was quite dynamic, with good low-end and clean, clear dialogue, effects and music.


Commentaries: "Kangaroo Jack" includes two commentary tracks: one from director David McNally, actors Estella Warren, Anthony Anderson and Jerry O'Connell and visual effects supervisor Hoyt Yeatman. There's also - I'm not kidding - a scene-specific commentary by Kangaroo Jack. An actor actually comments as Jack for the scenes that the kangaroo appears in. Browsing through the other commentary, I found it to be mildly entertaining. The actors have plenty of entertaining stories about filming with Sydney, while Yeatman (who is recorded with the rest of the participants) really does have a lot to offer in a handful of scenes where the CGI kangaroos are present. On the other hand, there's stretches that start to get rather praise-heavy, as the participants talk about how well everything turned out.

Auditions: A jokey featurette about animals who are "trying out" for the movie. An annoying voice-over provides all the dialogue. This lasts all of a minute and 49 seconds.

Behind the Gas: This featurette actually has the sound designers discussing how they created the camel fart noises. A strange and kind of embarassing piece. "Kangaroo Jack" actually boasts quite strong sound design overall, so how about letting the film's sound designers speak more about the design of the 5.1 mix and the layers of sound involved in the film instead of just about how farting noises were put together?

Outtakes: 3 minutes of improvs, missed lines and uncooperative camels.

Also: A hilariously cheesy featurette on Jack's dance moves, a short featurette on the effects, the film's trailer, bios and DVD-ROM features.

Final Thoughts: Warner Brothers has put together a very fine DVD presentation of "Kangaroo Jack", with excellent audio/video and a few solid supplemental features. However, the movie isn't funny, is surprisingly inappropriate for kids at times, and I do not recommend it.

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