Crocodile Dundee (1986) / Comedy-Adventure
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sexual content, some violence, and language
Running Time: 97 min.
Cast: Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski, John Meillon, Mark Blum, Michael Lombard, David Gulpilil, Reginald VelJohnson
Director: Peter Faiman
Screenplay: John Cornell, Ken Shadie, Paul Hogan
Review published 2005 (Revised November 7, 2013)
Australian comedian and actor Paul Hogan (Almost an Angel, Lightning Jack) stars as Mick "Crocodile" Dundee, the famed adventurer of Australia's rugged outback. Hearing the seemingly tall tales about his survival of croc attacks and the like, a New York newspaper sends a reporter, Sue Charlton (Kozlowski, Village of the Damned), out to do an expose of the man that sounds more like a myth. Once there, she realizes that the stories are quite fanciful, and many have become more so with repeated telling, as when she finally meets Crocodile Dundee himself, he seems very uncouth and womanizing, with a thirst for alcohol.
However, once they head out into the dangerous unpopulated terrain outside, she finds that Dundee is fully in his element, saving her life on a number of occasions. Seizing on an interesting new idea, as Dundee has never traveled outside of his home area, Sue invites him to New York City, hoping that the exposure to one of the world's largest, most densely populated, and technologically advanced metropolises will shed new and interesting dimensions in making him as much a fish out of water as she was in the outback.
Much of the humor in Crocodile Dundee either comes through the colorful local Australian flavor of its eccentric loons, or in seeing Dundee completely bewildered in a fish-out-of-water fashion by the hustle and bustle of city life. in a way, it's a gender-opposite telling of the old Hollywood "small town girl who must adjust to the big city" formula mixed with the culture-clash comedy staples that are just as common. Director Peter Faiman does a good job keeping all of this lunacy together, though the film really succeeds due to Hogan's iconic performance as the lead -- he's fun to watch just trying to figure out how to use a bidet. It's a fairly modest budget for a motion picture under $9 million) but would go on to a massive haul at the box office, to the tune of $328 million worldwide.
Though Hogan imbues the comical Dundee with a surprisingly nuanced performance, Kozlowski doesn't deliver as much to her role except for good looks -- and apparently a natural chemistry with Hogan. It is reported that the two became a romantic item during filming, despite Hogan being in a long-term marriage at the time. Hogan and Kozlowski would marry soon after, and would stay together up through 2013, divorcing on the grounds of 'irreconcilable differences'.
Crocodile Dundee was a big hit worldwide at the time of its release, especially in its native Australia, and though it is a bit quaint when watching it today (though much of the humor is not politically correct), much of the charisma of Paul Hogan stands up. It catapulted Hogan into the limelight, though his popularity proved to be short-lived, and may have fostered a few Australian stereotypes that continue to exist to this day. But it was a boon to the Australian tourism industry, of which Hogan had been a longtime spokesman, painting themselves as a friendly place to come meet a lot of easygoing, spirited characters. It's a crowd-pleasing comedy that isn't must-see material, but it should entertain most while it's on.
-- Followed by two sequels, Crocodile Dundee II (1988) and Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles (2001).
©2005, 2013 Vince Leo