Saturday, July 21, 2012

Crocodile Dundee (1986)

My wife brought home a copy of "Crocodile Dundee" on VHS, and last night we decided to watch it. Somehow, we thought that it was tame enough to watch with our 8 year old daughter. 

So we put it on.

The film had come out in 1986 when I was 15 years old, and I remember it being so hugely popular that even though I had never actually gone out and seen it, I felt like I had. I knew the characters. I knew the plot. I even knew the funniest scenes.

So here I am now, 25 years later, sitting in my living room watching it on VHS with my wife and my daughter. It's funny how things have changed, and how I've grown accustomed to watching DVD's with better resolution, and how crappy VHS looks on my T.V., but with the low production value of "Crocodile Dundee," I didn't feel like much was being compromised.

So we're watching the movie, and it's all pretty much what I've expected... Linda Kozlowski plays a sexy New York journalist who's in Australia, and decides to do a story on Crocodile Dundee, who is this wild guy who lives way in the outback, played by Paul Hogan, who fights crocodiles, and can hypnotize water bison, and stuff like that. 

So she spends a couple days out in the wild with him, to write her story, (although we never actually see her doing any writing, although we do see her take a few snapshots, so apparently she was working.) At a certain point she gets a little upset with the Dundee and decides to break off on her own, and eventually she finds herself near some water and decides to take a little dip and strips down to this G-string swimsuit, which is totally what you would expect a New York journalist to be wearing in the Australian outback in 1986... so that's when I grab hold of the video case and realize that the movie is rated PG-13, and may not be suitable for my 8 year old daughter, but then before she can reveal any more skin, suddenly a crocodile pops out of nowhere and decides it's going to pull her into the water, which wasn't unpredictable, even to my daughter who was already hiding behind the chair. Also, it was not unpredictable how Crocodile Dundee, who had been keeping an eye on her the whole time, pops out and kills the crocodile. (okay I gave it away, but like I said, it's all predictable anyway.)

So they spend a few days together, and he shows her his way of life, and they start to connect, and eventually she has to go, and it's clear that he's become hot for her, because she's able to persuade him to come back to New York with her.

So this becomes the basic premise of the movie... this wild, Australian outback man, trying to adapt to life in the big city, and trying to win over the heart of the journalist, who is apparently with this other guy. The film becomes this series of "comedic moments" where Dundee finds himself in awkward situations, and resorts to his wild back country ways.

But the truth of the matter is that the comedy isn't all that funny, and the jokes get old pretty quick. Even the romance between him and the journalist is pretty predictable and boring. 

One of the things I found to be interesting was how they were able to get away with the portrayal of certain racial and sexual stereotypes that they could never get away with nowadays. There's a certain scene in which Dundee is in a bar and being picked up on by a transvestite, and after he's clued in by his drinking buddy that she is actually a man, he decides to check by grabbing his crotch. Apparently in 1986, this was comedy. Nowadays, I believe it's sexual assault. How do you explain how that's funny to an 8 year old? This is when my wife started fast forwarding the movie.

Normally, I would be upset with my wife fast forwarding through a movie that I was trying to watch, but to be honest, I didn't feel like I was missing very much. 

But I have to confess, there was a scene finally at the end that got a pretty good chuckle out of me, when the journalist finally confesses her love to Dundee, but does it through a game of telephone in a crowded subway station. 

But all in all, it was pretty much what was to be expected, after all, it was Crocodile Dundee for Christ sakes.

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