Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Crocodile Dundee (1986)

Crocodile Dundee is never a film that I loved. I have yet to see the sequels, and I can't even say if I actually saw this original film in its entirety, or if I just knew certain moments and jokes so well that it felt as if I had seen it. Which made me unsure of how I would feel now, over three decades after it was initially released.

Well, it turns out that I feel pretty much the same about it as I did when I was a teenager. This is a comedy that will appeal to a wide audience, it doubles down on stereotypes and cliches, but does so with a core of naivete that makes it hard to take umbrage with. Although I'm not sure if Australian viewers would say the same thing (and I would love to find out).

Mick Dundee (Paul Hogan) has garnered a bit of fame, surviving a crocodile attack that brings him to the attention of a travelling journalist, Sue Charlton (Linda Kozlowski). Sue works for a newspaper owned by her father, and she is dating the editor (Richard, played by Mark Blum), which I guess is the reason she is allowed to make contact with Mick "Crocodile" Dundee, travel around with him, and then get him to visit New York with her. The first third of the film establishes the character of Mick, the rest of the story is standard fish out of water stuff, played to good comedic effect.

Based on an idea by Hogan, who had been working for years on his comedy sketch show (and a few other projects that boosted his profile), Crocodile Dundee is the kind of movie created to please cinema patrons before being the kind of thing you later enjoy on a lazy day off from work. It's not a classic, not by a long stretch, but the central character is as iconic as he is over the top, and there's at least one moment that became part of our collective pop culture reference tapestry for decades.

It's hardly worth going through the cast here, mainly because this is really carried by Hogan in the lead role, and he certainly projects all of the charisma and sweetness and ultra-alpha male qualities that make up the character. Kozlowski does well enough in her role, despite having to portray a character who you just know is going to be won over by the rugged charm of our hero, however unlikely that seems. Blum has a couple of scenes in which he can show how he's basically the polar opposite of Mick, and there are good little turns from John Meillon, David Gulpilil, and Regiinald VelJohnson.

Direction from Peter Faiman is absolutely in line with the script by Ken Shadie and John Cornell. There's nothing too fancy on display, a number of the scenes feel like self-contained sketches, and the slight story takes a back seat to the gags. There's not really any character development, there aren't really any lessons learned beyond what is shown in the setting up of the premise (despite what the film may intend), and our hero is so uncomplicated that it makes even the grand finale feel drama-free.

But not every film has to be a classic. This made me laugh here and there, it wraps everything up in a decent time, and I like Hogan.


Get two Croc flicks here.
American friends can grab a triple pack here.

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