A viable, if amusingly absurd, comedy concept lies behind "The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course." What if a big, mean croc in the wilds of Australia swallowed a top-secret data beacon from a crashed spy satellite? And what if Steve Irwin -- that charismatically obnoxious daredevil naturalist from the Animal Planet cable channel -- thought the CIA goons sent to retrieve it were actually poachers trying to kill the croc?
If you've ever seen "The Crocodile Hunter" show (and let's face it, you wouldn't be considering seeing the movie if you hadn't), you can probably see the screwball, sketch-comedy appeal of a clueless Irwin engaged in a game of backwater cat-and-mouse with city-slicker spies he thinks are out to skin one of his precious wild animals.
But no matter how firmly director John Stainton has his tongue in his cheek, the fact remains that a wacky concept does not a movie make. Split into two distinct narratives, Irwin spends his half of the film doing exactly what he does on TV -- catching critters, talking to the camera incessantly and with unbridled hyperactive enthusiasm, and saying "Crikey!" a lot. His scenes are even shot in 1.33:1 aspect ratio -- the shape of a TV screen instead of a movie screen -- which proves distracting when the film goes wide-screen to follow the CIA guys (David Wenham and Lachy Hulme), whose scenes are staged like a goof on a Tom Clancy flick.
For the first 3/4th of "Collision Course," these two paths barely cross at all, which makes most of the picture play as if you're watching someone else channel-surf between Irwin's TV show and a bad spy movie on the Cinemax. When the plots do converge, a few laughs can be found in the way Irwin narrates his showdown with the CIA guys as if they were just part of his program.
"These blokes are determined!" he exclaims to the camera while fighting with one of them on the top of a moving truck.
Another good chuckle comes from a scene at CIA headquarters in which top officials conclude that Irwin and his co-star wife Terri must be enemy agents because their globetrotting has taken them to political hot spots around the world.
But you'd have to be a hardcore fan of "The Crocodile Hunter" to not be bored and insulted by most of this movie, which on the whole is a script-less, aimless, badly-acted, slapped-together attempt to cash in on Irwin's 15 minutes of fame.
Run time: 90 mins
In Theaters: Friday 12th July 2002
Box Office USA: $28.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $33.1M
Distributed by: MGM Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
Fresh: 44 Rotten: 39
IMDB: 5.4 / 10
Director: John Stainton
Starring: Steve Irwin as Himself, Terri Irwin as Herself, Magda Szubanski as Brozzie Drewitt, David Wenham as Sam Flynn, Lachy Hulme as Robert Wheeler, Aden Young as Ron Buckwhiler, Kenneth Ransom as Vaughan Archer, Kate Beahan as Jo Buckley, Steve Bastoni as Deputy Director Reynolds, Steven Vidler as Deputy Director Ansell, Alyson Standen as Anne Milking, Alex Ruiz as CIA Agent, David Franklin as CIA Agent, Robert Coleby as Dr. Weinberger
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