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With: Steve Irwin, Terri Irwin, Magda Szubanski
Written by: John Stainton, Holly Goldberg Sloan
Directed by: John Stainton
MPAA Rating: PG for action violence/peril and mild language
Running Time: 89
Date: 07/12/2002

The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course (2002)

1 Star (out of 4)

Croc-a-Lypse Now

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

First of all, I promise right now not to use the word "Crikey!" in this review, or any others.

Next, I have to give "Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course" a little credit. At least it started with an idea, even though the idea crashes to the ground, desperately flails about for a while and then shatters into a million pieces. This is a truly, truly bad movie.

For the uninitiated, Steve Irwin and his wife Terri Irwin star in a kids' show on the Discovery Channel called "The Crocodile Hunter." Together, they trundle all around the Australian outback rescuing snakes, spiders and crocodiles, always coming extremely close to losing a limb or sustaining a poisonous bite. Steve talks to the camera, telling us little factoids about each beast while Terri does the devoted wife bit on the side. The film's writers, John Stainton (who also directed) and Holly Goldberg Sloan, decided to keep Steve and Terri in this exact arena. At the same time, they flip back and forth to a subplot in which a nuclear gizmo or a spy device or something has fallen out of orbit and crash-landed in the Australian outback, only to be swallowed by a giant crocodile. This particular crocodile happens to live near the home of cranky, hefty old Brozzie Drewett (Magda Szubanski, from the much better Babe movies), and she constantly tries to do away with it while dealing with an endless stream of fat jokes. Meanwhile, some faceless government agents have been dispatched to find the gizmo and retrieve it. When they finally catch up to the croc, Steve thinks they're poachers and does everything in his power to stop them.

Here's the problem: The plot stuff -- the scenes with Brozzie and the agents and the nuclear device -- couldn't be worse. We're talking bad acting, bad casting, bad writing, bad direction, bad camerawork, gaping logic holes, insultingly stupid jokes -- you name it. I can't think of a more inept movie. The second part of the movie -- the Steve part -- is exactly the same stuff you can see at home on TV for free. But ask yourself this question: How much worse would this movie have been if Steve had been part of the nuclear gizmo plot? Some of Steve's scenes can be funny and/or interesting, but he often pulls a stunt just as lame as his bad-movie counterparts. For example, when he's chasing a big lizard across the sand in the movie's opening scenes, he's making all kinds of noise and scaring the beast away. Wouldn't a silent approach be more effective? And when Steve's wrestling the croc and needs Terri to maneuver the boat closer, she suddenly can't start the engine, as if to say, "Sorry, Steve, I'm just a girl." Worst of all: Steve and Terri are being towed down a river by a huge croc. They've lassoed him, and they're trying to wear him out. For some reason, Steve stands up on the very tip of the bow of the boat holding onto the rope with no footing and nothing to grab onto. Then we're supposed to be surprised when he tumbles into the water. Maybe he's taken too many cracks to the skull. When he spies a low-hanging branch up ahead, he has maybe five, six minutes to duck -- but he still manages to get clobbered.

Watching Collision Course, I actually found myself fondly remembering last year's Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles. But here's the ultimate test: The kids at the screening I attended seemed to be having more fun running up and down the stairs than watching the movie. Filmmakers need to understand that just because they're small, kids are not stupid. They need more than stupid movies to entertain them.

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