There you have Osmosis Jones, a combination of clunky live action and cool, creative animation that tries too hard to please both adults and kiddies while journeying inside one disgusting body.
That body belongs to Frank the zookeeper (Bill Murray), a greasy, out-of-shape, wart of a single Dad. He doesn't exercise, his hygiene sucks, and he eats food that's fallen to the ground. Once we're introduced to his unpleasant exterior, we quickly meet his vile interior.
In a few ingenious animated sequences, Frank's insides literally burst to life as the "City of Frank," complete with its own infrastructure, police department, and greedy, corrupt mayor (nicely overdone by none other than the voice of William Shatner). Frank's white blood cells, led by super-slick upstart cop Osmosis (voiced by Chris Rock), fight a constant, border patrol-style battle against invading germs and diseases.
The central story is a gentle spoof of buddy cop movies: Jones teams up with a high-powered cold capsule named Drix (voiced by the steady, deadpan David Hyde Pierce) in an attempt to shut down a renegade virus (played with a mean funkiness by Laurence Fishburne). This nasty illness is looking to make history by offing Frank in just 48 hours, and this unlikely duo must stop him. Even if their "fantastic voyage" takes them into a seedy nightclub in one of Frank's zits.
The animation, directed by former story artists Piet Kroon (The Iron Giant) and Tom Sito (Antz), is wonderfully colorful and energetic, looking like a spiffed-up Merrie Melodies cartoon. In fact, some of the more harmless germs look like those little aliens in another half-animated Warner movie, Space Jam.
The biology puns, both visual and vocal, are there as is expected, with plenty of requisite references to a litany of bodily functions including peeing and puking (the rule seems to be: the more liquid and mucus, the better).
But with all the endless opportunity to jam-pack both the frame and the script, Osmosis Jones is surprisingly tame. The Farrellys, and first-time screenwriter Marc Hyman, almost appear to be holding back, not wanting to give the smaller viewers (this is PG-rated) sensory overload. The filmmakers would rather devote their time to juicing up the urban, radio-friendly soundtrack, which becomes so blatant it's annoying. So in peeling back some of the laughs, Osmosis Jones becomes just a handful of chuckles by the film's end.
It does manage to hold interest until then, even if the live-action sequences with Bill Murray and daughter Elena Franklin feel quickly cobbled together and look dreadfully grainy and flat (I think all the money was spent on the animated bits). Molly Shannon, as the daughter's teacher, is a riot, happily stealing both scenes in which she appears.
And, as in any movie aimed toward kids, and doubly so if directed by guys named Farrelly, you'll find just about every yucky body release imaginable. But, what's this? No fart jokes? Oh, they save those for the end. No pun intended.
You'll find more of the same on the Osmosis Jones DVD, which sports a handful of longer/grosser deleted scenes and the usual documentaries. A commentary track features four producers, directors, and writers, but as is often the case with animated movies, there just isn't much to add to the telling of the tale. In fact, you'll find the best bits in a four-minute short that focuses on the voice work.
Do we have to say it?
Run time: 95 mins
In Theaters: Friday 10th August 2001
Box Office USA: $12.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $13.6M
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Warner Bros. Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Fresh: 59 Rotten: 49
IMDB: 6.2 / 10
Screenwriter: Marc Hyman
Starring: Chris Rock as Osmosis Jones (voice), Laurence Fishburne as Thrax (voice), David Hyde Pierce as Drix (voice), Brandy Norwood as Leah (voice), Bill Murray as Frank Detomello, Molly Shannon as Mrs. Boyd, William Shatner as Mayor Phlegmming (voice)
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