Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles (2001)

D: Simon Wincer
S: Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski

Belated second sequel to the surprise smash hit of 1986 featuring former TV comedian Paul Hogan as a rugged Australian bushman endearingly dropped into the heart of late twentieth century urban capitalism with predictably comic results. It was an old-fashioned premise played with an old-fashioned sense of romance and gentle humour. People loved it and Hogan had a breakthrough. The first sequel played the same gags and then tried to reverse them by bringing big city killers to the outback. It sort of performed at the box office, but mercifully Mick 'Crocodile' Dundee seemed to have lived happily ever after at the end. Thirteen years later, he's back. There are kids out there who are no doubt the core audience for this movie who weren't even born when Crocodile Dundee II was released. That's scary. One presumes that Paramount hoped that the films' popularity on TV will have sustained interest and given the brand name enough recognition.

This episode brings Mick back to the States for more fish-out-of-water action, this time to the west coast. The plot is pretty much incidental. If you care, it has to do with what happens when wife Linda Kozlowski accepts a job editing a newspaper in LA and gets involved in a dangerous investigation into a smuggling scam. Meanwhile Mick wanders about with son Mikey (Serge Cockburn), taking in the sights and doing the same bits of business which sustained him through the first two movies. Adding spice to the mix is Alec Wilson as Mick's bushman mate Jacko, and this is the one interesting element in the script. With his 'experience' of America under his belt, he acts as a would-be guide for the even more gormless Jacko. Mick's comically inaccurate interpretations of American culture passed off as worldly wisdom actually provide one of two moments of genuine humour. This is not enough to save the picture, but it is a slender thread to hold onto amid the more routine plot development and mild satire at the expense of the city of angels.

There is a germ of a workable movie in here, at least as much as there ever was in this franchise. Hogan can still pull of a charming smile and there are scenes which replicate the sense of laid-back ocker humour of the previous adventures. Jacko is a great addition and the interaction between Hogan and young Wilson is not bad. There are two main problems though. First of all the Kozlowski plot is horribly generic and completely irrelevant, but there is no actual plot without it. The second is that the latter part of the film is mostly set in Universal Studios' lot, which makes it feel like a cheap advertising stunt rather than an actual potshot at Hollywood and its foibles. There's also a rushed climax which brings the main plot to a swift conclusion, and there are some distressingly unwell looking lions drafted in to up the stakes at this point, which doesn't make for comfortable viewing.

On the whole Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles is a waste of time. It is the kind of film which won't suffer much on video or TV, and probably belongs there as the live-action precursor to a new children's animated series. This character has long lost whatever small measure of broad-based appeal he had, and the lack of real bite to the jokes here kills its chances of regaining the respect of adults. That said it passes the time amiably enough by comparison with the gross-out comedies which have become popular of late, and if you're in the right kind of mood you might smile once or twice in spite of yourself. It's not like you can take it seriously, after all, so why expend emotional energy on hating it? It is just as easy to ignore it though, so the call is very much your own, as ever.

Review by Harvey O'Brien PhD. copyright 2001.