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Osmosis Jones

Starring Bill Murray, Laurence Fishburne, Chris Rock, David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon, Chris Elliot
Screenplay by Marc Hyman
Directed by Peter & Bobby Farrelly

IN SHORT: Fun for the entire family. [Rated PG for bodily humor. 92 minutes]

"Bodily humor" means one barf joke and one zit joke. Otherwise, nothing to worry about if you've got upper single digit kidlets.

Widower Frank Detorri (Bill Murray) loves his daughter Shane (Elena Franklin), but he's no darn good with things like responsibility, nutrition, parental control (though there's no need for that) or any adult functions short of mandatory breathing. For Frank, who cleans up after the animals at a local zoo, Twinkies and deep fried Slim Jims make up a nutritious lunch. Shane, as you might guess, is the adult in this relationship but dad doesn't listen when she tells him not to eat the hard-boiled egg, covered in monkey spit and dung-tainted hay, that he is about to. Bill figures that, in ten minutes time, it's all the same to his stomach so down it goes. And off to the races goes Osmosis Jones, a 50/50 live action - animation split that tracks Bill's downward spiral through gastric infection while his animated antibodies, aided by a cold pill he shouldn't have taken, do their best to fight off the supervillain disease Thrax (voiced by Laurence Fishburne) determined to terminate his life functions.

This is one of the few times we've analyzed the press notes looking for clues as to what happened with this flick. Bill Murray says that, when he signed on, all the animation was done. That leads us to presume that the Farrelly Brothers were brought in to beef up the live action segments and make everything fit together in one coherent whole. They also add some of the more repulsive moments to the live action sequences, which is something they excel at. It all works beautifully.

Simply, Frank is a man with lousy personal habits and animated protectors who fit every stereotype in the book. The animation, which combines CGI and traditional cell art, transforms the internal workings of his body into highways, airport terminals, buildings and locales you'll recognize from such movies as The Godfather and Star Trek. Frank's antibodies are predominantly Irish cops, though hero Osmosis Jones (Chris Rock) is mysteriously missing the accent that all the other white blood cells have <vbg>. Ozzie's sidekick, a cold pill "named" Drix (David Hyde Pierce) is about as WASP as you can get and his boss, Mayor Phlemming (William Shatner) is, well, you can guess the joke from what we've already mentioned. Shatner milks the gag for all it's worth, so clueing you in isn't going to ruin the fun. Molly Shannon is the voice of Ozzy's animated love interest and Chris Elliot does his best to be as live action sloppy as Bill Murray.

Outdoing most animated films to the nth power are the puns written into the script. Read the background signs, listen to all the wisecracks carefully, these gems come at you hot and heavy. For all the good intentions, the farther you get into the animated mayhem, the more distracting the live action material becomes. That's the main reason we keep the rating on Osmosis Jones down at the family friendly, dateflick level. Stuff that will work for the li'l kidlets is too soft for the grownups. Luckily, we've got all the jokes written into the background visuals to keep us entertained.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Osmosis Jones, he would have paid . . .


The shame of it all is that, based on what little advertising we've seen for Osmosis Jones so far, the releasing studio has absolutely no idea how to sell this film Is it an adult comedy? Is it a Kid comedy (meaning drop the kidlets and head for the R flick next door) or is it a family movie?

It's a family movie. We enjoyed it. There's no language or other inappropriate stuff in here that would make us think twice about lugging the kidlets.We'd guess that our nephew, age eight, would find the occasional biologically disgusting parts to be really cool. Our niece, age 11, would have reacted in disgust but she would have been laughing out loud while she did.

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