Rating: PG for mild language
Run Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Hard to believe it’s been fifteen years since Paul Hogan single-handedly turned Australia into an American household word. “Crocodile Dundee” was the classic fish-out-of-water tale, pitting Prince Outback against the urban evils of contemporary New York City. Can lightning strike twice (okay, three times, if you count “Dundee II”)?
Yes and no. A fish out of water flounders about, searching for relief. The backgrounds may change, but the struggle remains the same. Courtesy of a particularly weak set-up, Mick Dundee (Paul Hogan) is abruptly uprooted from rural Walkabout Creek when his long-time live-in love, Sue (real-life wife Linda Kozlowski), accepts an assignment to head the Los Angeles bureau of her father’s newspaper. Mick, Sue, and their towheaded son Mikey (Serge Cockburn) inexplicably find themselves smack in the middle of Beverley Hills, surrounded by all the luxury and attitude that the name implies.
Mick and Mikey set about exploring the City of Angels, ogling the typical tourist traps with wide-eyed wonder. Not content to rest on his al fresco-honed laurels, Mick’s curiosity is piqued when Sue becomes involved in a suspicious film studio story – the very same story that her predecessor was working on when he was unexpectedly killed in a mysterious car wreck (gasp!). Mick lands a job as an extra on the studio’s latest schlocky production, and goes about the business of digging in where he’s not wanted.
The plot, if you can dignify it as such, is as pedestrian as it sounds. A thriller without the thrill. An adventure of lackluster proportion. A relentless series of L.A. inspired jokes are the obvious ones (valets, coffee drinks, meditation), and the direction is TV-sitcom clunky. But - and it’s a big one – Hogan has still got what it takes (and how) to make his rugged, manly, nature-puss an enigmatic charmer in the most unlikely of situations. His aw-shucks country cousin act (complete with weathered leather and jumbo hunting blade) is infused with a pinch of self-effacement and a healthy dose of male dignity. Thoroughly believable as a loving father (albeit one who teaches his son to wrestle alligators) and a supportive lover, Hogan is an Australian for all seasons. Kozlowski makes the best of her preposterous role, her beauty enhanced with age.
Wacky wildlife moments, tiresome poofter humor, and chiseled male-model thugs aside, this Dundee re-tread is harmless, critic-proof entertainment.