Osmosis Jones

The way I see it, Osmosis Jones will have to duke it out with A.I. as the most schizoid flick of summer 2001. What we've got here is a mix of live action (directed by those kingpins of uncouth comedy, Peter and Bobby Farrelly) and animation (directed by Tom Sito and Piet Kroon, who work on stuff like The Little Mermaid and The Iron Giant) that wants to reach the family audience and gross them out as well. Can your heart be warmed while your guts are being wrenched? Step up and see as Bill Murray, at his Meatballs/Caddyshack slovenliest, stars as Frank, a zookeeper who thinks nothing of stealing a hard-boiled egg out of a monkey's mouth and plopping it down his own throat with monkey saliva still dripping off it. Frank seems more apish than anything Tim Burton dreamed up, but his daughter (Elena Franklin) loves her old man, and vice versa. It's hard to watch the great, grungy Murray going soft on us. But we're meant to care when the egg makes Frank puking, nostril-leaking sick. Zap. The animation kicks in and we're inside Frank's body watching the virus wreak havoc. It's here, inside the City of Frank, that a white blood cell, Osmosis Jones (voiced by Chris Rock), joins up with a cold pill (voiced by David Hyde Pierce) to vanquish the lethal virus, Thrax (voiced by The Matrix's Laurence Fishburne).

Hollywood has done this stuff before remember Fantastic Voyage and Innerspace? But the animation puts a new spin on things. The City of Frank has a mayor (voiced by William Shatner), a police chief (voiced by producer Joel Silver), a maintenance crew and even political intrigue. A go-getter named Tommy Colonic claims he can save Frank's life if he's elected mayor.

With the Farrelly brothers involved, you didn't think this flick would avoid Frank's colon, did you? In the outside world, when the queasy Frank dines out with a date (SNL's game-for-anything Molly Shannon), the zit mechanism inside his body uses a pimple on Frank's forehead to fire a cannonball of white goo right in the lady's face.

And so it goes. Despite clever animation and energetic vocal performances, Osmosis Jones — coming at a lull in gross-out appeal among film audiences (Tomcats and Freddy Got Fingered flopped badly) — has an air of same-old same-old about it. Too crude for the kids and not crude enough for connoisseurs of the Something About Mary school of hair jism and balls caught in zippers, Osmosis Jones seems doomed to fall between the cracks.

RS 876 - Aug. 19, 2001

From The Archives Issue 443: March 14, 1985