By David Mumpower
October 12, 2003
It's almost impossible to imagine that a film about a rapping kangaroo could be the makings of a bad movie. Right? Right? Okay, I guess that eternal optimism of mine was a bit too over the top here. Kangaroo Jack is that occasion where the stars align, allowing for a catastrophic film project the likes of which even Madonna would turn her nose up at. Even taking into consideration the fact that this one was written for the kids more than the adults, it still throws under the radar of worst case scenario expectations. Simply put, you could spend a dozen years with Tibetan monks attempting to find a level of enlightenment and inner peace but by the 53 minute mark of Kangaroo Jack, you would disavow yourself of the vow of silence, curse your deity and carefully begin to plot how to get past studio security long enough to give director David McNally the ass whomping he so richly deserves for creating this monstrosity.
On the plus side, the kangaroo animation is good.
Kangaroo Jack tells the story of Charlie Carbone, a hairdresser by vocation who is loosely affiliated to the mob through his mother's marriage. Stepfather Salvatore Maggio (Christopher Walken) is an upper level boss who marginally tolerates Charlie as a favor to his hot new wife (Mrs. Cary Grant herself, Dyan Cannon).
Charlie is barely treading water with his store and he keeps getting into trouble due to the comic bumblings of childhood friend Louis Booker, who once saved Charlie's life and won't ever let him forget it. Louis isn't very bright, and one of his scams causes the two of them to accidentally lead the cops to an illegal operation of Sal's. Needless to say, Daddy isn't very happy with this turn of events, so he requires reparations be made by the duo in the form of delivering a package to Australia.
Charlie and Louis do their best Keystone Cops impersonation by losing the package contents to a presumed dead Kangaroo. Hijinks ensue as they pursue the sunglasses and jacket clad kangaroo across the Australian Outback. Their only guide in this slapstick adventure is Charlie (Estella Warren: Fire. Your. Agent.), the impossibly good looking Wildlife Foundation agent who agrees to help the boys in exchange for a small cut of the cash she would then use to better nature. Gosh, she's swell.
The conflict stems from Charlie's stepbrother, Frankie Lombardo, a lifetime nogoodnik who bears a strikingly similar mental composition to daddy Sal. For reasons that are never entirely clear, Frankie really has it in for Charlie, and sets off for Australia to make it impossible for his brother to reclaim the package.
The real star of the movie, though, is the title character. When Charlie and Louis encounter the kangaroo for the first time, they note a passing resemblance to a crime boss from New York named Jackie Legs, and further the similarity by making him their animal Barbie doll. If the creation were not CGI to begin with, PETA would be all over this production for making the poor little guy wear such an ugly-ass jacket. Of course, all that matters is that people find his over-the-top antics amusing. Which I really, really did not.
Kangaroo Jack isn't without its share of laughs. The problem is that almost all of them come from the tongue of Christopher Walken, and he is in the movie for roughly five minutes. The other 80 minutes somehow wind up feeling like 800 minutes of interspersed scatalogical and "Isn't Australia a funny place?" humors. It's enough to make even the sanest person long for a Yahoo Serious comeback.
Kangaroo jack is largely intended for children's audiences, but the brutal reality is that if your child enjoys this film, you have failed as a parent.