Movie Magazine International

Osmosis Jones

USA - 2001

Movie Review By Casey McCabe

Maybe the Farrelly Brothers had been teased enough about their dependence on bodily functions for laughs. After all, these are the guys who pushed the defecation envelope in "Dumb and Dumber" and explored a brave new world of excretions in "There's Something About Mary". Peter and Bobby Farrelly tend to take their gags literally.

But now the Farrelly Brothers get the last laugh. Rather than feign apologies, they have responded with "Osmosis Jones" the Battleship Potemkin, Bicycle Thief and Citizen Kane of bodily function comedy. Bodily function jokes do not merely populate "Osmosis Jones" they are the film's entire reason for being. "Osmosis Jones" uses live action and animation to take us inside the dubious body of Bill Murray. The result is really quite charming, depending on how you feel about pus.

Murray plays Frank, a junk food swilling zoo employee and widowed father of a wise and pretty young daughter. On the surface it is the story of her attempt to get her dangerously slovenly dad on the road to a healthy lifestyle. When Murray gobbles a hard-boiled egg just handled by a zoo monkey, the film switches to his animated innards and kicks into a whole new gear. Osmosis Jones, as voiced by Chris Rock, is a white blood cell from the wrong side of Frank's intestinal tract. He is quickly mismatched with Drix, one of those erudite time released cold tablets that thinks it knows everything, as could only be voiced by David Hyde Pierce. They are on the trail of Thrax, the perfectly villainous ebola-like virus voiced of Laurence Fishburn. William Shatner is the brain cell of a mayor who stays elected by giving into every weakness in Frank's body. And of course there's the sassy, sexy red blood cell for our hero to flirt with, in the animated guise of Brandy Norwood.

The Farrelley's have taken the boilerplate buddy cop picture and bathed it in blood, sweat, boils and mucous. But there is a genuine epic fun in the animation sequences, which dominate the picture. These are directed by Piet Kroon whose credits include the much admired "Iron Giant." Visual jokes fly fast and furious with little time for digestion. Much in the barrage of puns will probably shoot over the heads of young audiences. Example: one corpuscle cop making small talk with his partner says "the wife and I are going down to the kidney this weekend to see the stones. The short, sharp laughs that line got, including my own, had a distinct aged quality to them.

But make no mistake, "Osmosis Jones" aims to be hip and largely succeeds. In Murray, the Farrelley Brothers have found the perfect palette for their art. Perhaps no actor in history has shown himself to be less vain than Bill Murray. He doesn't just look willfully awful in "Osmosis Jones" he oozes to the point of being hard to watch. All which fits in masterfully to the Farrelley Brothers' diabolical scheme to see just how much we can stomach.

Yet taken as a whole, "Osmosis Jones" is more sweet than gross, and more fun than a barrel of monkey bacteria. See it with someone you love.

© 2001 - Casey McCabe - Air Date: 8/8/01

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