Szubanski and Aden Young.
Directed by John Stainton.
Running Time: 89 mins
I have to 'fess up, I have never seen an episode of Steve Irwin's The Crocodile Hunter, which has become a huge hit on American cable TV. Can 100 million people in the USA be wrong? Unlike Crocodile Dundee (what is it with crocodiles and the USA?), this film has been exclusively made for that market, so, surprisingly, it will have little appeal in its country of origin.
Steve & Terri Irwin (playing themselves) are making one of their TV programmes when they are asked by Sam Flynn (Wenham) to rescue a huge crocodile from the river next to a farm owned by Brozzie (Szubanski). The problem is that a US satellite has just plunged to earth and the CIA are after the high-security data recorder which re-entered the earth's atmosphere over Far North Queensland and was swallowed by the same crocodile Steve is hunting. He thinks the CIA agents are crocodile
On one level this is a lightweight comedy, going where Paul Hogan has
bravely gone before. As a fusion between a documentary and feature film, it has merit. There are a few funny moments and the cross-over between live animals and stand-ins is impossible to pick. It also has wonderfully hair-rasing scenes when Steve talks to the animals. Don't go if you are arachnophobic.
On another level The Crocodile Hunter is lamentable. For those of us in the
know it has 'Made for the USA' written all over it: Brozzie is a hillbilly who, from her palsy-affected mouth, talks about 'a lynchin'; Flynn is a Ranger rather than a Wildlife Officer; and, mercifully, but against form, no one swears in the outback, preferring phrases like 'nick off', 'Oh sugar!' and 'You're son of a gun'; all the while planes touch down in a barren, outback desert but within minutes the visitors are safely driving in very green pastures.
I have, however, three big complaints. Are we the only nation on earth who
cannot pronounce the name of our country? There is an 'l' in AustraLia. I
have no idea where Austraya is? Like Pauline Hanson, Steve Irwin needs a
speech therapist. Let's hope he gets one before Crocodile Hunter II.
Secondly, this film will do nothing for those people overseas who think our
entire Continent is invested with venomous vermin. Try coaxing them here for a holiday after they see The Crocodile Hunter.
Worst of all this film is dreadfully sexist. There are three women in this story. One is a mad, another is a double-crosser and the third is incompetent. Steve Irwin speaks more highly of his dog than his wife and sad to say, I think he means it.
Mercifully and against all predictions this film bombed in the USA. 100 millions Yanks can recognise an opportunistic piece of cross-advertising when they see it. I hope we do the same.
Richard Leonard SJ