the review site with a difference since 1999
Reviews Interviews Articles Apps About

Warner Home Video presents

Kangaroo Jack (2003)

"I think I just sweated out a bottle of Yoo-hoo I drank in the eighth grade."- Charlie (Jerry O'Connell)

Stars: Jerry O'Connell, Anthony Anderson
Other Stars: Estella Warren, Chritopher Walken, Michael Shannon
Director: David McNally

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG for language, crude humor, sensuality, and violence
Run Time: 01h:29m:41s
Release Date: 2003-06-24
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C- D-A-B+ B


DVD Review

As I walked the aisles of my local video store last week I overheard the conversations that other patrons were having with each other. While some were downright humorous, others were a bit perplexing, and one in particular was simply helpful. The latter came courtesy of two children extolling the virtues of the recently released Kangaroo Jack. Having just finished viewing the film that day, I found it to be a terrifically brash waste of film, and yet these two children were audibly, and visibly, in love with it. I came to realize that if I were a small child, I would likely be singing its praises, too; it is fun, stupid, and it contains enough mildly gross humor to entertain any young child in search of a good laugh.

Reality set back in, and I began to rationalize my opinion as a film reviewer and decided that whether or not the film hit its target audience, horrible is still horrible no matter what the intended age may be. Here is a film that has the potential to be cute and clever, but rather takes the low road, becoming just plain stupid.

To be hones,t the plot does not exactly scream of being "high concept," so the absurdity of the overall story is not surprising. When Louis (Anderson) and Charlie (O'Connell) met as children, it was under serious circumstances when Louis saved Charlie from drowning, thus creating a friendship that would follow the pair to adulthood. In the present, Charlie is the struggling owner of a beauty shop run by his mafioso stepfather, Sal Maggio (Walken), while Louis is a low-level swindler whose get rich quick schemes always seem to end with trouble. When Charlie and Louis inadvertently lead the cops to Sal's warehouse, the criminal is understandably upset and dispatches the two to Australia, where they are to deliver a package to a "Mr. Smith." Upon arriving in Australia, the two begin their journey to meet their contact, but along the way they encounter a kangaroo that, for reasons beyond explanation, they dress up, mistakenly leaving the package in the pocket of the jacket that the kangaroo is now wearing. The 'roo takes off across the outback and the chase is on. The pair enlists the help of Jessie (Warren), a wildlife expert who also happens to be a stunning beauty.

As I mentioned above, there is a part of me yearning to recommend Kangaroo Jack simply because I know that as a child I would have loved it. And yet here I am wondering just how appropriate the film's PG rating truly is. There are the standard tame sight gags that involve general goofiness, including a drunk pilot and a seemingly by-the-book climax, but other moments, such as one involving a flatulent camel, as well as a painfully unfunny joke involving Charlie groping Jessie are uncomfortable in a kid's movie.

While these issues do not warrant a recommendation, there are other far more disturbing happenings in Kangaroo Jack that make it nearly impossible to recommend. For instance, the CGI creation of Jack the kangaroo is more disturbing than cute; the scenes of the marsupial in closeup lack the needed effort to make Jack a loveable creature. Scenes of the animal talking, eating "red hot" candies, and showing off his dance moves are absurd. In an age of special effects and flatulence jokes, it seems that not even pleasant, well-meaning animals are safe.

Looking at the previous work of those involved goes a long way towards explaining why exactly Kangaroo Jack became the train wreck that it is. The stars, including Warren, O'Connell, and Anderson, seem to be under the impression that the script is a genuine treat, while the always amazing Christopher Walken delivers yet another performance of baffling genius in a dumb movie. The tagline for Kangaroo Jack is, "He stole the money and he's not giving it back." One may be under the assumption that the tagline is referring to the title character. Instead, it's clear that it is referring to the filmmakers.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer for Kangaroo Jack is a feast for the eyes, as this is simply the best image I have seen on DVD in quite some time. The transfer excels at offering sharpness and detail that are out of this world as the image has a very film-like look throughout. Colors are vibrant with very crisp edges that show no bleeding while edge enhancementis nonexistent. The print used was free of scratches and dirt and is simply pristine.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, French, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for Kangaroo Jack is, as one would expect from a Jerry Bruckheimer production, very kinetic throughout. The surround speakers do a nice job of reinforcing both the score as well as several sound effects when the film changes locations from New York to Australia. From helicopters to gunshots and back again the surround speakers get a very large amount of play throughout the film. Dialogue is firmly placed in the center speaker and sounds crisp and clear. The .1 LFE channel provides solid bass in the more intense moments.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+ 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by director David McNally, visual effects supervisor Hoyt Yeatman, actors Jerry O'Connell, Anthony Anderson, and Estella Warren
Kangaroo Jack
Packaging: Snapper
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. gags and outttakes
  2. learn Jack's dance moves
Extras Review: Two commentary tracks are offered and while one is more conventional than the other, each is easily disposable and really, just plain stupid. The first features director David McNally, actors Anthony Anderson, Jerry O'Connell, and Estella Warren, as well as visual effects supervisor Hoyt Yeatman. The track is very boring; the group fails to cover anything truly noteworthy. Instead, we are treated to some mildly amusing anecdotes, but very little as to how and why the film was made. The next track stars Jack himself (voiced by Adam Garcia) and is available in scene-specific sections. The track is very annoying, though the youngsters in your house may enjoy it.

Casting Sessions is a tongue-in-cheek look at the auditions for the animals used in the film. The piece is very short and does provide a laugh or two, but adults will tire of it quickly. Behind the Gas showcases the hard work that went into recreating the sounds of camels and their flatulence. This is an embarrassing waste of room on the DVD, as I doubt anyone over the age of twelve will be seriously interested in the reproduction of the sound of flatulence.

A collection of outtakes is available and in the three minutes that they last, you will find more laughs than in most of the finished film. A look at Jack's dance moves, as well as the trailer and a very short featurette on the effects used in the film round out the extra features.

Extras Grade: B

Final Comments

Boasting impressive technical portions as well as some extra features that children will no doubt enjoy, Kangaroo Jack earns some impressive marks on DVD. The film itself, on the other hand, is a veritable wasteland of inappropriate humor aimed at children, as well as some truly terrible acting

Kevin Clemons 2003-08-06