I… um… well… hmmm.
This may be the first time that a movie has put me at a complete loss of words. Picture me with my jaw hanging open, gesticulating wildly with my hands as if that might conjure up words that don’t exist in the English language. Oh, and I’m grinning like an idiot at the same time.
Some movies are review-proof, meaning: No matter how many snooty critics pan them, you’re gonna go see them anyway. This may be the first film that actively defies criticism, meaning: No matter how I fumble around and try to explain my reaction to it, I will never, ever capture the insanity, the sheer bizarro-ness of The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course. No one will. It’s just that weird.
This is a movie conceived in a delirum by a madman. Probably by a madman who had never seen an actual movie, and yet still, upon receiving an explanation of the concept, thought he might have a go at it. And this is the real kicker: This madman succeeded, if only on his own lithium-addled terms. This isn’t a good movie; this isn’t a bad movie. This is a movie that dispenses with the whole good/bad paradigm and exists on its own plane of reality.
Welcome to the Stevo Universe.
Steve Irwin is not a cartoon character, though he plays one on TV. He wrestles crocodiles in remote Australian rivers not just for a living but because he likes it. His dog looks at him like he’s crazy, which he is. I mean, you can just about see the poor old mutt, Sui (played, the poor thing, by herself), shaking her head at what this guy considers fun, and cowering in the front of the tiny boat when her master, once again, brings a nasty ferocious thing with terrifying jaws on-freaking-board. He calls Sui “his best friend” and his wife, the long-suffering and level-headed American Terri, “mate” (in the Australian we’re-all-mighty-blokes-here! sense). A quick pat to her butt is his only concession to romance, but imagine the amazing sex they must have the night after together subduing a wild, angry 14-foot crocodile. All that adrenaline has to go somewhere.
This movie is not about that, though there’s always the chance of a sequel. (Crocodile Hunter Nights, anyone?)
No, what this movie is about is jerry-rigging a demented story about the CIA and a downed satellite and secret spy stuff around a typical Stevo day rasslin’ crocs. It’s like they didn’t even tell Steve they were making a pretend-movie — they just let him go about his business, filmed it, and would build a fictional tale around it later. Like how Steve Martin secretly shot footage of action megastar Kit Ramsey in Bowfinger and turned it into a sci-fi movie, driving Ramsey crazy in the process. Irwin is already crazy, so no harm done here.
If I were going to be objective about things — and I can’t, because the Stevo Insanity infected me from the first moment I heard the first strains of Hunter‘s twangy, Dukes of Hazzard score, yeehaw! — I would probably call the fictional storyline hopelessly, hilariously Ed Wood-esque. Every CIA character is played by an Aussie actor doing a fakey American accent, and just about every Australian character is an outrageous stereotype, like Magda Szubanski’s (Babe: Pig in the City) scowling, gun-happy, croc-hatin’ rancher. (David Wenham as a wildlife cop is positively adorable, though his presence here probably dooms the film to eventually being known as That Movie With That Dude Who Played Faramir In LOTR.)
Steve and Terri and Sui don’t even interact with the fake characters till damn near the last ten minutes of the film, and the Irwin clan is shot in TV format while everyone else is widescreen, which only emphasizes the disjoint. And it makes their collision (ah, there’s what the title means) at the end of the film so much more, well, insane.
I keep using that word — insane — because words do not exist that adequately describe this film, and “insane” comes closest. You must see this movie if only to wonder at its very existence. I’ll bring lots of people along to see it again, if only so at the end I can say, “Right? Right? I’m not crazy, am I? This movie is insane, isn’t it?”