Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Osmosis Jones – By Sean O’Connell

In “”Osmosis Jones,”” a witty live-action/animation hybrid from the left side of the brain Bobby and Peter Farrelly share, a mayoral candidate (voiced by Ron Howard) with hopes of running a city found inside a human body delivers a campaign speech from the center of some nauseatingly stench-infested bowels. His platform, of course, is one of cleansing, and he calls for “”a healthier diet”” and more to achieve his goals. Named Tom Colonic, he’s knowingly described as a “”regular guy,”” and it’s gentle bathroom humor like this, laced throughout the film’s animated escapes, that highlight the finer sections of this originalfilm.

The body in question belongs to Frank (Bill Murray), a vile, unkempt zoo keeper and single father whose personal hygiene habits are borrowed from the animals he caters to. Lucky for Frank, he isn’t fighting the good fight against such nasties as cholesterol and heart failure alone.””Jones,”” as written by Marc Hyman, imagines Frank’s body as a fully functioning city, a high voltage metropolis of veins, arteries, organs and bodily fluids. Frank’s stomach resembles an airport where foreign (and domestic) objects arrive at pre-determined gates. His brain serves as city hall, home to a superficial mayor (voiced by William Shatner) who is under the public’s microscope for allowing Frank to treat his body the way he does. And a police force of white blood cells, unofficially represented by gung-ho renegade Osmosis Jones (voice of Chris Rock), keep Frank safe from harm.On a routine inspection of the mouth, triggered by Frank’s ingestion of soiled egg parts, Jones encounters what he believes to be a serious infection. In fact, a deadly virus named Thrax (Laurence Fishburne provides his devious voice) has infiltrated Frank’s body with alterior motives. Thrax hopes to kill Frank off in 48 hours, a record time that would guarantee the virus a place in the medical journals. Eager to save Frank from this hostile takeover, Jones teams up with Drix (enthusiastically voiced by David Hyde Pierce), a robotic multi-tasker sprung from a cold pill Frank swallows. Pop star Brandy lends her voice to Jones’ blood cell love interest, Leah. Kid Rock and the deceased Joe C. even make a cameo as “”Kidney Rock.”” Pay special attention to the various backgrounds, as they’re often littered with inside jokes and puns. As clever and inventive as “”Jones””‘s animated tours through Frank’s body are, though, the live-action shots with Murray are just as flat. The lowest, most revolting examples of the Farrelly’s trademark bathroom humor are employed so Murray’s Frank can scratch his crotch, sniff his sweaty armpits, ingest enough fat to stop a rhino’s heart and vomit on his daughter’s teacher (Molly Shannon). This unfortunate character later has a zit explode on her. It’s “”hilarious.”” How one script alternates so easily between these repulsive scenes and the quick-witted animated sequences is beyond me. By the time Chris Eliott rears his talentless head as Frank’s best friend, you’ll be wishing the entire film had been hand drawn. Then we’re back in Frank’s body, and the film is resuscitated. Rock and Pierce, a fine duo, wring stimulating jokes out of the obviously cliched buddy cop scenario. Rock even spins a fresh take on his well-known “”We were so poor, we grew up surrounded by crack”” routine. Despite its live-action foibles, “”Jones”” could be the cure for what ails audiences this summer season. FINAL GRADE: B+

Iron Monkey

Hoping to cash in on the popularity of Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning “”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,”” the suits at Miramax dug up and digitally improved the 1993 Chinese import “”Iron Monkey”” for theatrical release in the States. Similarities to “”Dragon”” are evident and expected, as “”Monkey”” was helmed by Lee’s action choreographer Yeun Woo-Ping. But where Lee’s “”Dragon”” wrapped traditional social conflicts around a dreamy fable, red-headed stepchild “”Monkey”” drives its point home with a kick.

At its core, Yuen’s “”Monkey”” retells the infamous Peter Pan legend, with the mysterious Iron Monkey figure robbing from corrupt official Governor Cheng (James Wong) and distributing the confiscated cash to the poor. However, Yuen complicates his elemental parable by mixing in healthy doses of polygamy, political power struggles, retribution, explorations of antiquated legacies and the bonds shared between fathers and sons, all laced with touches of humor typically found in the fleet-footed Far East dramas.By day, the Iron Monkey masquerades as Dr. Yang (Rongguang Yu), mild-mannered servant to the poor. Eventually Dr. Yang’s cover is threatened by a close friend, Wong Kei-Ying (Donnie Yen), who reluctantly agrees to hunt down the Iron Monkey for Governor Cheng, who has kidnapped Kei-Ying’s son, Wong Fei-Hung (Sze-Man Tsang), and is holding him for ransom. A clouded sense of good and evil emerges from Kei-Ying and Yang’s inevitable confrontation, as both are noble warriors forced to fight for what they believe in. And only when they unite to combat Cheng and his forces does the movie morally align itself and start kicking tail.And kick tail it does. “”Iron Monkey””‘s strength lies in its fight sequences, brilliantly choreographed dances made possible with the aide of well-placed wires. Where would the contemporary kung-fu hero be without wires and modern camera gimmicks? “”Monkey,”” while spectacular, makes you appreciate how agile and resilient Bruce Lee and the young Jackie Chan were, or how lethargic the overweight Steven Seagal remains. Still, “”Monkey”” promises action, and everyone gets involved, including the young Tsang as Wong Fei-Hung, who readily dispenses of a gang of menacing goons without breaking a sweat. The final battle scene, set atop a series of poles strategically placed in a burning pit, defies logic, and must be seen to be appreciated.Interesting tidbit: “”Iron Monkey””‘s full title, “”Iron Monkey: The Young Wong Fei-Hung,”” signifies that it is the first in a series of films centered around Tsang