2001-04-26 / Arts & Entertainment

3rd "Dundee" Flick Is Action-Packed Family Comedy

3rd "Dundee" Flick Is Action-Packed Family Comedy

3rd "Dundee" Flick Is Action-Packed Family Comedy

Paul Hogan reprises his role as Aussie Mick Dundee in the new film, "Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles." cJason Boland/Paramount PicturesPaul Hogan reprises his role as Aussie Mick Dundee in the new film, "Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles." cJason Boland/Paramount Pictures

By Christy Lemire

AP Entertainment Writer

This is normally the place where I would trash a movie like "Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles" for being formulaic, predictable, insipid or all of the above.

And trust me, it is all those things. But the movie deserves credit for trying, for offering itself as an action-packed family comedy. It’s not mean-spirited. It’s not brimming with bodily fluids and gross-out jokes.

In short, it means well. How do you slam that?

This does not mean, however, that you should plunk down money for the third film in the "Crocodile Dundee" series, unless you’re one of the people producer Lance Hool refers to when he says in the production notes, "The film-going public all around the world loves the character and wants to see what he is doing now, today!"

Hogan, by the way, co-wrote the script with first-timers Matthew Berry and Eric Abrams.

If you are indeed aching to know, crocodile hunter Mick Dundee hasn’t changed much since the original 1986 film and the 1988 sequel, "Crocodile Dundee II," which grossed a combined $610 million worldwide. Australian actor Paul Hogan is a bit more leatherfaced (the man IS 61) but he still milks the fish-out-of-water shtick with all his might.

After setting the first two movies in New York and the Outback, this time Dundee treks to Los Angeles. We know he’s there because director Simon Wincer ("Free Willy," the miniseries "Lonesome Dove") shows us the obligatory montage of L.A. images: the Randy’s Donuts sign, the bumper-to-bumper freeway traffic, the Hollywood sign rising through the smog.

Why he’s there isn’t terribly plausible. His longtime love, Sue Charleton (Linda Kozlowski, Hogan’s real-life wife), is asked to move there from Australia to fill in at her father’s newspaper after the bureau chief dies in an accident. Was there no one in Los Angeles — in all of the United States, for that matter — who could have done the job?

Dundee goes along gladly — laid-back Aussie that he is — he takes all challenges in stride, as does the couple’s young son, Mikey (newcomer Serge Cockburn).

In what poses for a plot, Sue and her personality-free assistant (Aida Turturro, Tony’s sister on HBO’s "The Sopranos," who doesn’t need the work) investigate some shady goings-on at a film studio.

"I’m sure it’s an elaborate front for something," Sue wonders aloud, "but what?" The studio’s scheme has something to do with smuggling priceless art works and releasing movies like "The Ladies Man."

But really, the plot is an excuse to showcase Mick Dundee marveling at the new-fangled trappings of modern-day life.

The drive-thru window at Wendy’s! Valet parking! Coffee enemas! (Well, who wouldn’t wonder about that last one.)

You can see the jokes coming a kilometer away.

Hogan is likable enough to produce a few laughs, especially when he takes a job as a movie extra to investigate the studio. Kozlowski is lovely, but she delivers her lines like she’s doing a TV commercial for a feminine hygiene product.

And you know who steals the show? Mike Tyson, as himself. Dundee and Mikey run into the boxer meditating under a tree in a park and sit down to join him.

"Inhale the positivity, exhale the negativity," Tyson instructs them, causing Dundee to remark afterward, "I could tell straight away — he was a gentleman." After a cameo in last year’s "Black and White," here’s another example of Tyson daring to laugh at his psychotic thug image, and it’s almost endearing.

After foiling the evil movie-studio plot and saving the day — I DON’T think I’m revealing anything here that isn’t obvious — Dundee looks into the camera and says, "I think my crocodile hunting days are over."

We should only be so lucky.

"Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles," is rated PG for some language and brief violence. The running time is 95 minutes.

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