Gross out film 'Osmosis Jones' may appeal to younger set
By Jack Garner
Gannett News Service
(Rated PG with moderate gross-out humor) Two-and-a-Half Stars (Fair-to-Good)
An uneven comic blend of live-action and animation, detailing the germ warfare inside a slob (Bill Murray) after he eats a dirty hard-boiled egg. Chris Rock is among the voices for the animated portion. Directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly, Warner Bros., 95 mins.
The film starts when zookeeper Frank (Bill Murray) i a world-class slob i gobbles down a hard-boiled egg after it's been in a monkey's mouth, and been dropped into the dirt.
And that's how gang warfare between the germs and antibodies starts within Frank's body.
That warfare is the subject of this new, bodily-functions comedy cobbled together from bland live action and clever animation.
Murray and others act out the human stuff, while cartoonists bring the various white and red blood cells, pain-killing capsules, enzymes and germs to life, with colorful personalities (and well-known voices), as the battle rages for Frank's health.
Clearly, "Osmosis Jones" is an off-beat late-summer entry geared for younger viewers, that's part health class documentary on proper hygiene and healthy eating, and part gross-out comedy.
Peter and Bobby Farrelly, the kings of gross-out comedy thanks to "There's Something About Mary" and "Me, Myself, and Irene," make a surprising turn here to family fare, as directors of the live-action portions.
Their segments are dull and simplistic, and the film is harmless enough to earn a "PG."
Still, the Farrellys leave their calling cards with myriad snot, phlegm, zits, bladder, and rectum references i and the obligatory gas-passing. (Sex is left out of the picture.)
The animation directed by Piet Kroon and Tom Sito is far more successful, thanks mostly to the film's clever concept:
Frank's interior is envisioned as the City of Frank, where the white blood cells are the health police, on constant vigilance against germs and infection.
The body is presented as a large metropolis that includes the lymph nodes, where the immunity cops have their precinct; the zit bar, festering with excitement; the sweaty armpit, a steam bath for the criminal (germ) element; the bladder, where various elements get to leave the body as soon as the zipper goes down; the Cerebellum Hall, where the mayor holds court; and the hemorrhoids, where you go to get a lawyer.
The film's hero is a ne'er-do-well white blood cell named Osmosis Jones who hopes to make a better name for himself. Note the humorous casting: black comedian Chris Rock is the voice of the white blood cell.
There's a corrupt, bombastic mayor (William Shatner), do-gooder political opponent Tom Colonic (Ron Howard), a sassy red blood cell (Brandy Norwood), and a visiting 12-hour cold capsule named Drix (an especially amusing David Hyde Pierce).
Eventually, Osmosis and Drix team up in buddy-cop fashion, and go gunning for a vicious anthrax-carrying bacteria (voiced with dripping menace by Laurence Fishburne), who came into the City of Frank on the dirty hard-boiled egg.
Although the concept is clever i and certain set-ups are quite funny i the script by Marc Hyman is inconsistent, and comedians Rock, Molly Shannon, Chris Elliott, and even Murray are given few opportunities to generate laughs.
Because concept is everything, the film runs out of steam as soon as the world of the City of Frank becomes clear. If a movie could be an hour long, "Osmosis Jones" would be more of a success. But at more than an hour-and-a half, it strains into a hit-and-miss affair.
Rated PG, with moderate gross-out humor.