Wicked Old Review – Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course

A 15 year late review for Crocodile Hunter : Collision Course by Tyler Tuttle

Crikey! This movie’s a mess.

The summer of 2002 was a simpler time, Nickelback was reminding us of who they really were, we all had impressive new virtual lives on the Sims, and an Australian zookeeper with unrivaled enthusiasm for animals and a show on basic cable successfully released a $12 Million dollar spy thriller onto the general public. For those who are unaware Steve Irwin, aka The Crocodile Hunter was a zookeeper and television personality who hosted the popular show “The Crocodile Hunter” on Animal Planet from 1996 to 2004. The show was a documentary about Steve and his wife Terri traveling the world to find amazing and dangerous animals then provoke them into almost murdering Steve or doing something awesome on camera. Steve was especially known for his complete lack of fear and basic common sense, the man was known for casually picking up the world’s deadliest diamondback rattlesnakes, or wrestling full grown saltwater croc’s with only his Khaki ensemble and a big toothy smile for protection. Irwin’s childlike love and joy for all things living was infectious towards his audience and felt authentic like no other television personality ever. So of course the fine producers over at MGM saw this loveable aussie with an authentic passion and for animals and documentary filmmaking and decided to stick him smack dab in the middle of a hollywood spy/action/comedy.

To Irwin’s credit the film “Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course” still maintains that small screen Animal Planet feel. This could be because the film is directed by wildlife documentarian John Stainton, who had previously worked with Irwin on the television program and various other wildlife specials. Or it could be because the film itself is basically a standard episode of The Crocodile Hunter with a separate film about a lost spy satellite awkwardly edited around the footage. The two elements are so awkwardly disconnected that not only does the aspect ratio change from 4:3 in the “documentary” half to a standard widescreen 16:9 for the “movie” scenes, Steve and his wife Terri don’t even come into contact or have any awareness of the plot of the movie until the final ten minutes.

The movie opens with standard Hunter fare, Steve is chasing some lizard all over the desert so he can watch it hide in a hole and then investigate its poo. The poo had snakeskin and another lizard’s claw in case you were wondering. Steve then gives us a list of facts about this particular lizard and goes back to his jeep to drive around aimlessly and look for cool stuff. Meanwhile the CIA has a random unexplained satellite explosion which sends a valuable hard drive filled with classified information straight down to the Australian outback where it is promptly eaten by a Crocodile. This particular crocodile has been a real problem eating livestock of a local ever scowling farmer, Brozzie Drewitt ( A genuinely funny Magda Szubansk). Brozzie is hell bent on turning this particular croc into a handbag despite the conservational efforts of local sheriff Sam Flynn (David Wenham) who would much rather call someone from the local zoo (Guess who) to safely relocate the hungry Croc. Unfortunately for Steve’s relocation plans the CIA has its worst named people: Robert Wheeler (Lachy Hulme), Vaughan Archer (Kenneth Ransom), and Jo Buckley (Kate Beahan),  also chasing after the Croc which they think is actually a satellite hard drive. Of course this leads to a series of mistaken identity Hi-jinks here the Irwin’s believe the CIA to be poachers, and the CIA believe’s the Irwins to be international super spies…except it kind of doesn’t.

The main flaw with Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course is that is has no idea how to tell a story and no real business trying. The lack of storytelling competency shows when they have to tell then entire third act of the CIA satellite story line via voice over and still picture during the end credits.  The movie truly shines when it’s just Steve interacting with animals and the more hollywood they inject into the formula the less enjoyable the end result was. The first time the Irwins encounter another character is about an hour into the movie as they speed past the CIA in pursuit of a croc, its then probably another 20 minutes until the climax of the film when they encounter them again.  Up until now the previous hour the movie has been a documentary about Steve, Terri, and their dog Sue, picking up random deadly creatures along the Australian outback and bringing them back to the zoo. And that’s honestly a much better movie than the one they wanted to sell us. The more they tried to move away from the television feel to justify the transition onto the big screen the more charm got lost in the process.

Maybe they should have just spent the $12 million budget on fancy cameras hi-def cameras and cool locations to explore in order to justify the audiences price of ticket, Or maybe Steve Irwin just didn’t really need his own major motion picture. Either way, I’m glad we were able to get a Steve Irwin movie anyway before his passing, even if it’s not a perfect one. The segments on animals are interesting, informative, and weirdly fun to listen too, and the final action scene is just the type of over the top goofy fun I was hoping for. The “real” scenes set at the CIA headquarters are pretty much awful but thankfully short and relatively infrequent. Luckily Magda Szubanski is an absolute delight who was able to get many genuine chuckles out of me,  making it so not every second without Steve on the screen is totally wasted. If you miss Steve Irwin you should watch this movie, If you love dangerous animals you should watch this movie, and if you’re anyone else this would be one to avoid. All in all this film receives a 2 out of 5.

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The House (2017)

I went into this movie uncertain of what to expect. Based on the previews, I really wanted to like it, but the last couple years of comedies have caused me to question my instincts, and a review embargo usually isn’t a good sign either.

After the city denies their daughter the scholarship she had won, Scott and Kate Johansen (Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler) discover they have no money to send their daughter to her dream college. Luckily, Scott’s friend Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) has a solution.

Frank’s life has fallen apart recently, his wife left him, he lost his job, and will soon be losing his house. He comes up with one of his infamous plans to make some quick cash for he and his friends. He sets up an entire PowerPoint presentation to pitch them.

His plan is to turn his house into a casino. Scott and Kate are hesitant but can’t think of any other way to make the money so they agree to do it. They start off with some homemade tables, and as they make more money, they put more into it and soon they have a full blown casino.

It doesn’t take long for it to go to their heads, and pretty soon they’re masquerading as big shots around the casino. In their efforts to show off their power they catch someone in the casino counting cards, and decide they should make an example of him. They attempt to scare the cheater by threatening to cut his fingers off, but due to a poorly timed argument involving an axe, they end up actually cutting them off. Through his screams, the cheater warns them that his boss is going to hear about this. They don’t think much of it, and kick him out.

Everything goes pretty smoothly considering the circumstances and they end up making lots of sweet, sweet cash, that is until the City manager, Bob (Nick Kroll) finds out about it and confiscates all their earnings. For about 5 minutes, they’re all pretty upset about it. Then Frank suggests they keep going because they have nothing to lose.

So once again the doors open and once again money comes pouring in, for a short time. The cheater’s boss Tommy (Jeremy Reiner) busts through the front door. The group promptly sets him on fire and that’s pretty much how the scene ends.

From here the movie begins to wind down. Bob again tries to confiscate all their money. It this time the chief of police stands against him after learning that Bob had taken the scholarship money for his personal use. So in the end, their daughter goes off to college after all.

I personally really enjoyed this movie, it was fun and legitimately funny. It brought back some of my faith in Will Ferrell. Overall I give it a 4 out of 5. I don’t know if it has much of second watch value, but it’s definitely worth a first watch.

Wicked Old Review: IQ (1994)

I.Q. is your standard mid-90’s romantic comedy, a quirky aspiring mathematician Catherine Boyd (Meg Ryan) is engaged to the stuffy sociopath scientist James Moreland (Stephen Fry) who is all wrong for her. Luckily she runs into the science obsessed yet uneducated town mechanic Ed Walters (Tim Robbins) who steals her away from the uptight celibate . Also Catherine’s uncle is Albert Einstein (Walter Matthau), the oldest looking man who had ever lived) and he and a gaggle of his old scientist buddies decide to help Ed win over Catherine by pretending to invent cold fusion, lying to the president, and instigating the space race.

The movie starts and the audience is immediately clued in to the fact that Catherine isn’t happy with her sex life. How do we know this? Because the movie takes every single opportunity in the first 15 minutes to show us just how goddamn horny she is, and how James is much more interested in electrocuting rat testicles than lying with his betrothed. This whole ordeal culminates at a fancy dinner party where Catherine describes her ideal honeymoon location as a slide where the water “Licks you all over” which is of course accompanied by a genuinely creepy self hug and shudder. James quickly whisks her away the next room to ask if she could maybe cool it on the licking talk for one polite work dinner. She of course demands he sleep with her right then and there and James refuses with the kind of righteous indignation reserved for only the most pompous of upper crust British elite. Luckily for the frustrated Boyd,  the duo’s fancy fire engine red car breaks down and they have to pull into Bob Rosetti’s (A criminally under-utilized Tony Shalhoub) auto shop where the local popular science reading heartthrob Ed can take a break to teach Catherine a thing or two about…..car repair.

Ed of course immediately falls head over heels in love with Catherine because time is an imaginary construct, and begins to set his plan of seduction in motion. This is where Albert Einstein finally comes into play. Einstein is a simple man who likes to spend his days with his buddies arguing about scientific theory, getting badminton equipment stuck in trees, and being genuinely and actively worried about Catherine’s sex life. So you can imagine the relief these guys feel when our hunky hero Ed shows up on their doorstep ready to profess his love to the engaged woman he briefly met as a customer at his place of employment a few hours ago. Ed and Albert bond over their shared love of science, Catherine, Ed’s ability to climb trees to collect lost badminton equipment, and sick motorcycle jumps.

Eventually the brain-trust decides the only way to help Ed is to make Catherine question her own intelligence, and make Ed look like a certified genius with a flawed theory for cold fusion. The theory is of course picked up by the new jersey council of science or whatever for a presentation in five days, which ignites the interest of President Eisenhower, and draws out claims from the Russians that they will have working cold fusion within 6 months. How does the greatest collection of scientific minds in the world tackle the problem of worldwide attention on a flawed theory? By having a dress up costume montage for Ed to make him look smart.

I.Q is the perfect blend of earnest nonsense to make what I consider to be an enjoyable film. Taking a tired and formulaic romantic comedy plot and throwing in Albert Einstein is definitely enough to make an enjoyable hour and a half, but there’s a reason this movie has faded into obscurity. Robbins lacks the effortless charisma of a Tom Hanks type, and comes across as bland and forgettable in a movie filled much stronger character choices, and the movie ignores more creative direction in favor of the tried and true rom-com formula.

The cast of old men scientists that assist Einstein are the true highlight of the film, and a delight to anyone who enjoys some quality old man bickering. Although I would have preferred if Matthau had gone with more of his wacky comic persona instead of the much smaller, and “realistic” way he took the character.

Ryan is infinitely charming as the frustrated Boyd, but it would have been nice if they had given her more to do than worry about which man to choose. The true star of the picture though is Stephen Fry’s psychotic psychologist James Moreland, who spends the film torturing both people and animals for very poorly defined reasons in a smarmy fashion that only Fry could really bring us.

All in all I.Q is a mediocre film elevated by bizarre plot choices and a great cast. It’s paced well and could be a great WTF watch with buddies and a few beers, but if you’re looking for a top notch 90’s romantic comedy Meg Ryan has other titles in her catalog you should check out first. Though if you want a movie where Albert Einstein creepily says wahoo to himself as he watches his niece hardcore make out with a guy, then this is the picture for you. I would give it 2.5 stars.

 

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (2017)

As a 90s kid, of course I had to see Captain Underpants, if only as an obligation to my younger self. Going in, I honestly had no idea what to expect, I hadn’t watched any trailers or researched the film at all, but t
o my pleasant surprise, I loved it.

Some of my favorites voiced the main characters, Ed Helm as Mr. Krupp/Captain Underpants, Kevin Hart as George, Thomas Middleditch as Harold, and Nick Kroll as *ahem* Professor Poopypants.

The story is about two elementary school kids who just want school to be fun, and the school principal, Mr. Krupp, who wants exactly the opposite. They end up hypnotizing Krupp and convincing him that he is Captain Underpants. Most of the movie then follows the chaotic consequences of their action, that is until Professor Poopypants becomes their new Science teacher and explains his plan to rid the world of laughter. 

George and Harold along with Captain Underpants must work together to foil Professor Poopypants plan before it’s too late. Will they succeed? Of course they will it’s a kids movie. 

The film is chock full of childish bathroom humor, and I can honestly say I was laughing throughout the entire thing. It felt like the type of movie where everyone involved was just having a great time. I was completely caught off guard by how much I enjoyed it, but happily surprised. 

To the right crowd this movie will be a favorite of 2017. Although it isn’t likely to show up at any awards shows, it was a great tribute to the original comics and will have fans young and old waiting for the sequel. I give it a 4 out of 5 and recommend it to anyone looking to bring out their innerchild.

Snatched (2017)

Amy Schumer recently released her new movie, Snatched featuring her and Goldie Hawn. Emily (Schumer) and her mother Linda (Hawn) end up taking a vacation together after Emily’s boyfriend dumps her. The pair lands in an exotic country, and get settled in at their resort. 

While Emily is all ready to party and have fun, Linda is more interested in relaxing and playing it safe. Ruth (Wanda Sykes) another woman staying at the hotel with her partner Barb (Joan Cusack) approaches and warns them to be careful due to some recent kidnappings, but Emily blows her off and goes out drinking.

Emily ends up meeting a guy at a bar and convinces her mother to join them on a day trip the following day. As expected, it doesn’t go as planned and after a series of events they find themselves locked in a cell. This is where Goldie Hawn starts to shine. As Emily wakes up, she finds her mother reading a porno mag in the corner of the room pretending it’s a book.

Ruth and Barb show up again to help break the girls out, but they unfortunately get separated, and Emily and Linda are again left on their own to find their way home. Through a series of mother daughter bonding moments and some help from Emily’s brother (Ike Barinholtz) are found and rescued by US Soldiers and escorted to the embassy

I’m generally a fan of Amy Schumer, her last movie, Trainwrecked was a favorite of mine. I wouldn’t say Snatched was a bad movie, it was mildly entertaining, a few good jokes here and there. Overall though, I was left disappointed.

Most of the movie felt like a compilation of forced jokes, some landed, most didn’t. Truthfully, Goldie Hawn carried the film, her jokes were well delivered and were the only thing that really seemed to have any value. Joan Cusack

Overall I’ll give it a 2.5 stars out of 5. It was mildly enjoyable but ultimately forgettable.

How to Be a Latin Lover (2017)

How to Be a Latin Lover was a feel good comedy directed by one of my favorite actors, Ken Marino (Party Down, Burning Love). When I say it was a feel good movie, I mean there was almost no conflict, and when there was it was immediately remedied. This is not to say that I didn’t appreciate that though. It was actually refreshing to see such an upbeat film.

The story revolves around Maximo (Eugenio Derbez) who has made his living seducing an older woman and leaching off of her for 25 years. When she ends it out of nowhere, Maximo is left with nothing and has to move in with his sister Sara (Salma Hayek) who he has not seen or talked to in 10+ years and her son Hugo (Raphael Alejandro).

Hugo is crushing on a girl in his class but is too nervous to speak to her, but when Maximo finds out that her grandmother is loaded, he selflessly decides to help Hugo out, sort of. He teaches Hugo how to “woo” a woman through the “art of seduction”. Needless to say it doesn’t go exactly as planned.

The movie is loaded with great side characters that achieve a surprising amount of screen time. Featuring Rob Lowe, Rob Cordry, Rob Riggle, Rob Huebel, Michael Cera and Kristen Bell, all with killer performances. Kristen Bell’s character Cindy, and Rob Lowe’s character Rick were among my favorites.

I would give this movie a 3.5 out of 5, and recommend it to anyone looking for a good laugh. It does its job, and does it well.