This is an installment for a series on this blog where Joe Brown, Sports Editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle, and I have a back-and-forth review of a movie. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, I picked “Crocodile Dundee.”
The Movie: “Crocodile Dundee” (1986)
Starring: Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski, John Meillon
Director: Peter Faiman
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) An American reporter goes to the Australian outback to meet an eccentric crocodile poacher and invites him to New York City.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 90 percent
Froemming: For this JOE-DOWN, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and revisit a film I remember enjoying as a little kid. A film about a rugged bushman in the Australian wild who is taken from the dangers of crocodile country and put into the strange world of 1980s Manhattan. Yes, I chose “Crocodile Dundee,” the film that put Paul Hogan on the map just long enough for him to ruin all the goodwill this film brought with an unnecessary sequel, “Crocodile Dundee 2” and, years later, “Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles,” which finished the job of people caring about this character.
So Brown, how was your viewing of “Crocodile Dundee?”
Brown: This movie really brought two things to my attention. First, every single Australian stereotype exists because of this movie. Every. Single. One. And Paul Hogan wrote the story, so way to really give your people a lasting legacy, guy.
Second, it made me opine over the days when newspaper reporters could just fly across the world for a story. Meanwhile, I have to seriously debate driving an hour away. Thanks, economy.
So in this fish-out-of-water romp, I’ll let you take the lead, Froemming.
Froemming: We are introduced to Sue Charlton, a New York newspaper reporter who is allowed to fly to Australia in search of an urban legend (man, we seriously missed the boat by three decades, didn’t we Brown?) for a feature story. A tale of a crocodile hunter who had his leg bitten off, and crawled to safety, which was a bar, I believe. The legend actually grows from word-of-mouth comments before we actually meet Mick “Crocodile” Dundee.
So Sue makes the connection, and is taken to this pub to meet the man, the myth, the legend: Paul Hogan in a hat brimmed with crocodile teeth. And is drunk.
Brown: I’m glad you brought up Sue’s name because, and I documented this, it was 34 minutes into this movie before I realized what her name was. For all I knew, her name was Shelia, but that was only because I was busy counting the Australian stereotypes that still live on. That list reached the double digits, starting with the town being Walkabout Creek (where there is no one on Walkabout, nor is there a creek. Discuss). And of course, Foster’s.
Second, and this is my main problem with this movie: This is not a story, Sue. You work at Newsday, the main paper on Long Island, and you flew out to Australia for a story you a. Could have done over the phone, and b. Would have probably been a brief in your World section?
Nope, because the world was made of money in the 80s, you get to do a non-story across the world on the company’s dime.
Froemming: Yup, nothing bothers me more than when the world of journalism is depicted wrong in films.
Anyway, Mick Dundee is a non-story because he has his leg intact (it is just scarred). But she keeps at it, because…(?) So, at the bar, Mick dances, acts goofy and beats up a gang of kangaroo hunters, because at this point, nobody mentioned a kangaroo yet.
Brown: I had to laugh when I watched the bar fight break out because I had the music from the NES game “The Adventures of Bayou Billy” in my head (yes, that game is basically a rip-off of “Crocodile Dundee”). I had to say, I got a big laugh when in the bar, we have a character who won’t spill his beer on top of his head after getting punched. But Dundee gets him to spill it after kissing him. I enjoyed having my expectations trumped.
Then the next day, we get a drive out to safari for Sue’s non-story and they drive up to a cow in the road. Dundee gets the cow to fall asleep with either the shaka or the heavy-metal hand gesture. My problem here: The cow’s still in the road, dummy. You literally did nothing that fixed your situation. Jim Carrey did more in doing away with a cow in the road during “Me, Myself and Irene.”
Froemming: That was my reaction as well. Now he has to pick the thing up and carry it off the road, instead of pushing it with his truck.
But now we have Sue, a New York liberal/feminist, in the Australian bush with Mick, who is represented as a backwoods hick survivalist. So, Sue wants to hike on her own, to prove to Mick that a New Yorker knows everything about everything (the politics in this movie is baffling), until she is attacked by a giant crocodile. Good thing Mick was stalking her like a creep up to that point to save her.
Brown: They’re in the bush, as they call it (because Australia!) because Sue wants to see where this crocodile attack happened. And I scoffed when Sue is told that there’s no concept of time in the bush, but their ride will be there in two days. So yes, there is a concept of time in the bush. Also, because I was very nitpicky, Dundee describes the croc being 16-to-18 feet long… you’re in Australia, you use the metric system… six meters.
Froemming: OK, did you also think when the croc bites the camera around her neck “just take the damn camera off! If the paper can afford this pointless trip, they can afford to buy you another Nikon!”?
Brown: Right? Also, Sue should be next-level dead from that. She’s attacked by the water by 500 million years of evolution-perfected reptilian killing machine.
Froemming: But Mick stabs the thing in the head with his trusty knife. This gesture turns Sue’s views of illegal murder of animals (poaching) around, and now she is attracted to his rugged, quasi-burnt hotdog looks. Then, after this, we head into some real strange levels weirdness with a tribe of aboriginals who sport tribal makeup, dance wildly around a huge bonfire and wear blue jeans for some reason. I…I didn’t know what to make of all this.
Brown: Does it bother you, like it did me, seeing Dundee kill the croc, and several other animals, a day or two after he fought people at a bar over claiming he’s a poacher? Then, when we see some people hunting kangaroos for fun, he asks what’s the problem with that? Seriously, Dundee? But, he did make a kangaroo decoy with a rifle called Skippy. Skippy should have been brought back at some point in the film. I was more interested in him than Dundee and Sue’s eventual love.
Froemming: I laughed out loud when I saw Skippy. It was just so random that I loved it. But, yeah, the poacher thing. They try to make him not seem like a bad poacher or something. The film really skirts around this whole point of Mick’s character. But he is a poacher, and a hypocrite and has a kangaroo decoy named Skippy that has a gun. Mick is off the rails on his own crazy train.
Brown: Right in the head or not, Sue starts finding herself attracted to Dundee and kisses him in a setting straight out of “Jurassic Park.” Then, she convinces him to come to New York to give the story a different twist. Hey Sue, you’re twisting the narrative to fit the BS story you wrote in the first place. Highly unethical there, Sue. Plus, we get to New York and find out Sue has a serious boyfriend there. So not only are you a liar in your job, you’re a liar in your personal life by dragging a simple backwoods Aussie to NYC when you’re already taken. Sue is a garbage person.
Froemming: Thank you for touching on that. Yeah, she even drags Mick on a date with her and her boyfriend for a very uncomfortable situation. I’ve actually been in that position before, and it is horrible. Go to hell, Sue, that’s where you belong.
But we have Mick in the Big Apple. I actually chuckled when he’s told 5 million people live there, and he says NYC must be the friendliest place on earth since all those people want to live together. Then starts shouting “hello” to everyone he sees. Austrailian Nice is very much like Minnesota Nice.
Brown: I was waiting for someone to greet Dundee by shouting obscenities like in “Coming to America” (NSFW). Alas, this is a more family-friendly movie than that.
So we get a montage of things that are foreign to Dundee, my favorite being a robber stealing a purse. Dundee takes him down by hucking a can of soup over a crowd and knocking the guy out. “The Simpsons” make a reference to this and I wrote in my notes: Wow, Dundee has as good an arm as Bette Midler.
Froemming: “Simpsons” fans take note: This movie is referenced by that show quite a bit in its Golden Era.
But yeah, Mick seems just as at home in New York as he is in the bush. For a fish-out-of-water tale, he really has no anxiety about new places, which goes against the grain of those kinds of stories. He even seems to enjoy the concept of the bidet in his hotel bathroom.
But his journey truly gets in gear when he goes barhopping with a cab driver after he punches Sue’s boyfriend.
Brown: I don’t even get how the boyfriend got knocked out. Like, they made a punch sound, but you never actually see a punch. Whatever.
Yeah, so Dundee goes out drinking with the taxi driver, grabs at a transexual woman’s
privates (this is where my social justice warrior sense went off) then gets into a fight with a pimp. And before all this, he was talking about dangerous spiders to the bar patrons because AUSTRALIA!
And really, nothing bugged me more than the next day, seeing Dundee taking a bath and leaving his hotel room OPEN for anyone to walk in and see too much. Dude, I know you’re from Australia, but no one needs to see you bathing yourself.
Froemming: I didn’t want to see him bathing. And then Sue does a little tease for him with her legs. We get it Sue, you are making your current boyfriend’s life a living hell and enjoying every minute of it. But she wants to take Mick to a party! Also, we see she does some writing because at one point we see Mick’s story in a newspaper clipping, buried deep in the back pages and in black and white. Real good investment there, Newsday.
Brown: OK, I know this review is getting real preachy with the whole newspaper thing, folks, but this is our livelihood and “Crocodile Dundee” is really misrepresenting it.
Yes, the crocodile man story is buried in the paper, but everyone talks about how the paper is flying off the stands because of the story. You buried it! No one is seeing Dundee’s story on the newsstand. That’s what is selling the paper, you clods.
Also, the guy running the paper turns out to be Sue’s dad. And her boyfriend is on the editorial staff. So both her dad and boyfriend had a hand in making sure Sue’s story wasn’t the centerpiece on the front cover. No wonder Sue likes Dundee: He isn’t killing her journalism career.
Froemming: Her boyfriend is the editor! Her boss, which makes it all more messed up. But she drags Mick to this party, where everyone is drinking and having a good time. He then runs into some coke addict snorting his life away like early-80s Chevy Chase. Thinking the man is just sick, Mick pours out the guy’s stash in some boiling water and has him inhale it that way. I have a feeling an addict would not have let him near his stash.
Brown: Seriously, Sue bringing Dundee to all these high-class parties is a pair of oversized glasses away from being every 90s teenage rom-com where an ugly girl would become prom queen because someone made a bet.
During the last of these parties, Sue’s boyfriend proposes and Dundee leaves the party with the limo driver, who is the second best driver in a movie behind Argyle from “Die Hard.” And some time late in the night, Dundee gets assaulted by the pimp and some hired goons. And what does the limo driver do? He rips the antenna off the trunk of the limo and throws it like a boomerang because AUSTRALIA!
Next day, Dundee check out of the hotel and says he’s going to go on walkabout (Australia!) in America. And I think he’ll be dead by the time he reaches Baltimore.
Froemming: The limo driver, what a hero. Yes, Mick decides, like Jules in “Pulp Fiction,” to walk the earth. I have no idea how he is going to walk out of New York (I’ve visited the place, and only saw tunnels and bridges as the entrances/exits there, but I am no expert on this), but whatever. He gets as far as the subway. Sue, having crushed the last fiber of happiness in her boyfriend’s being, rushes to find Mick. Since NYC is such a tiny place, she has no problem finding him at the subway.
Brown: And in the crowded subway, Sue proclaims her love for Dundee in a bunch of relayed messages like someone passing down a hot dog at a baseball game. And Dundee’s allowed to walk all over people, literally, to get to Sue. There is no way New Yorkers would put up with that. Heck, we glossed over the “That’s not a knife, this is a knife” scene. I’m sure someone in that subway would have had a gun, and Dundee would have been on the wrong end of it.
Froemming: And, just like that, the movie ends with the two of them together. I think we need to take a walkabout over to recommendations.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Froemming: This movie has not held up as well as I thought it would. It is still fun for a goofy 80s romp, but hasn’t aged all that well. I’d still recommend it, though, because Hogan plays a quirky, charming character and is funny at times.
Brown: I feel like disparaging this movie is a bootable offense in Australia. But yeah, I didn’t have as much fun with this movie as I thought I would. There’s some fun scenes, but there are plenty of 80s movie that are a lot more fun than this. I don’t think I’d recommend it, but I wouldn’t get on someone’s case for liking it. Just wasn’t for me.
Here is what’s coming up for the next Joe-Down:
It is “Sports Month” at the JOE-DOWN!