Friday, 30 March 2018

Osmosis Jones (2001)

Osmosis Jones is a standard tale of a reckless cop (Chris Rock) paired up with someone who is a stickler for the rules (David Hyde Pierce). There's an evil villain (Laurence Fishburne) with a plan to go down in history. And lives are at stake, although it is mainly just the one life (belonging to an unhealthy Bill Murray). The big difference here is that the cop is Osmosis Jones, paired up with a medicine named Drix, and the villain is a deadly virus with symptoms that may not be fully recognised until it is too late. And all of this is taking place inside the body of Murray, in animated form.

Directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly, Osmosis Jones is a fun blend of animation and live action (most of the grosser moments involve Murray either helping the virus along or showing some nasty side-effects from the battles raging within him) that is helped by a great voice cast and a lot of wonderful little sight gags, even if they are all fairly obvious puns. It's also quite tame for a film that comes with their names attached, which seems more likely to be down to the script by Marc Hyman. It focuses more on transposing the tropes of a buddy cop action comedy into the setting of a human body than it does on the many potential opportunities for toilet humour.

The animation may be a bit rough around the edges but it does everything it has to do, and that includes some fun scenes that have our main characters depicted in their animated form while the background is the very live Murray (who is also joined onscreen by Molly Shannon, Chris Elliott, and Elena Franklin, who portrays his frustrated daughter).

Rock does very well in the kinda-lead role, his sharp, fast delivery working brilliantly alongside the smooth and deliberate tone of Pierce. Fishburne, voice matched by the character design, oozes threat and menace with his every line, and there are fun supporting turns from William Shatner, Brandy Norwood, and Ron Howard.

The idea of our bodies being regulated and looked after by small humanoid entites isn't a new one (and it's one that can keep delivering great entertainment when done the right way, as it was with Inside Out) and nothing here feels too original, which is probably the biggest problem that the film has. Overlook the sense of the familiar, however, and you will find an absolute little cracker of a film, one that was unjustly neglected when first released, and remains sorely overlooked nowadays. Seek it out, give it your time, and you may well find that you enjoy it almost as much as I do.


Osmosis Jones can be absorbed in exchange for cash here.
Americans can get it streaming into their homes here (but on disc, not just . . . streaming).

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