Released: 17th July
Seen: 1st August
In 1986 the movie Crocodile Dundee came out and was a smash hit. To this day it’s still the highest grossing Australian film, a title it’s held for 34 years and shows no sign of losing it any time soon. It was followed by two sequels that are a lot less fondly remembered and since then Paul Hogan has really just coasted by on the reputation he gained from the 70s and 80s, only popping out for the occasional minor film or TV appearance. Well, after a surprise hit fake trailer, Crocodile Dundee is back… or should I say Paul Hogan is back trying to do a meta take on his career and just misses the mark by a couple of country miles.
The Very Excellent Crocodile Dundee follows Paul Hogan as he tries to navigate modern Hollywood. Since apparently Paul is stuck in the 80s, he’s stunned by things like strange late drinks and the concept of cultural diversity and he ends up doing some accidental racism which gets him in trouble. What’s really bad about that is that he just happens to be getting in trouble just as he gets a knighthood from the Queen. Now he has to try and repair his image as much as he possibly can, which of course will only end up in him making it worse because that’s this film’s only form of conflict.
The problem with trying to do a meta film like this is that if you’re going to take a swing at Hollywood, you have to land the punch and this film just doesn’t do it. The punches it throws are all light surface level stuff.
Sure, the strange combination lattes sound silly but being shocked by them is a joke that every single person did back in 2010.
Paparazzi suck, doing jokes about them is about as old as TMZ itself.
You can absolutely joke about the concept of forced diversity, there are ways to make it funny but you have to do better than the joke being that pointing out that Crocodile Dundee’s son can’t be played by Will Smith because he’s black… that’s the joke that gets the entire plot rolling by the way, Hogan is presented with the idea of Will Smith as a replacement Dundee and once he says no because Will is black, we then leap on the joke of everyone being overly offended which, again, is a joke you can do but for God’s sake actually land the damn punch.
The film is littered with cameos that range from ‘makes sense’ to ‘wow, are you that desperate for a cheque?’ and none of them work. I love Olivia Newton-John but when you don’t give her any jokes AND don’t even let her sing her portion of You’re The One That I Want (cos that’s a scene that happens, Hogan and Olivia are meant to do a performance of that song and Hogan sings Olivia’s part and she’s just never seen again) then why even have her? Why have Wayne Knight in the film when all you’re going to have him do is tap-dance and sing Hello Ma Baby offscreen? Almost every cameo is wasted in some way. The only cameo that manages to pull something out of this is John Cleese, and that’s probably because it’s John Cleese and you can hand him a phone book and he’ll make it funny.
Even the main cast is wasted here, Hogan basically just trudges from scene to scene and stands there while everyone else does all the work (and they aren’t doing that much work, if we’re being honest). Jacob Elordi plays Hogan’s son but he has no real purpose in the film, you could edit all his scenes out and lose literally nothing. The woman playing his manager certainly tries her best but she has nothing to work with… hell, I don’t even know her character name. I don’t think they ever address her by it which means I don’t even know who the actress is.
There isn’t a single memorable line or character in the entire film, which is surprising since half the characters are actors playing themselves… and this is meant to be a film that, in some way, reminds us about how awesome Crocodile Dundee was. Christ, I remember more of that fake Superbowl Dundee ad than I do about this movie and I literally just finished watching this movie minutes before typing this, meanwhile I haven’t seen the Superbowl ad in two years.
The actual plot of this is just… It’s bad. It’s just bad. Hogan’s been offered a knighthood by the Queen, but his bad behavior keeps putting it in jeopardy except he also doesn’t really want it, he’s only taking it because his granddaughter maybe brought it up at school. He also keeps somehow accidentally falling into scandals (and again, none of these punches at cancel culture actually land) and it’s just a mess. The annoying thing is that the secondary plotline about Hogan trying to connect with his granddaughter is relegated to three scenes and they act like they’ve earned an emotional climax with it (spoilers, they don’t)
The main thing that the movie keeps returning to is this idea of cancel culture, which we will not be debating today. The “Joke” they keep doing is that Hogan does something, from an outsider’s view it looks racist but with full context it’s an innocent mistake. No one learns from this, nothing changes and no punches are thrown. It exists and we are asked to laugh at it existing… the problem? I’ve seen this before. I’ve seen the “With context, this is totally innocent” joke before way back in 1994 when when a Gummi Venus De Milo got stuck to a butt and Homer Simpson pulled it off… and THAT episode landed its punches. Congrats movie, you are less gutsy than a season 6 episode of The Simpsons. That’s an accomplishment.
Also, side note, if you’re going to do an entire plotline about a character that keeps appearing to say racist things… maybe don’t use clips of actual antisemite Mel Gibson? At least don’t use him like he has some kind of moral superiority on the matter of racism, which this film tries to do notably with clips of Mel on a red carpet that’ve been heavily edited to fit the rest of the scene… which is something they do a few times and I wonder if the people they edited know what was done with their likeness.
It’s almost depressing how much this movie doesn’t work. The acting is bad, the writing is bad, the green screen is some of the worst I’ve seen and I’m including first time green screen users who forgot they couldn’t wear green when they were filming. Nothing about it works and the more you watch the worse you feel because this is meant to be a legacy film that celebrates the work of a legend and it can’t even be bothered to have a cohesive narrative or a well crafted joke. The only thing in the entire film I laughed at was the Crocodile Dundee musical dream sequence and even then it was less about the humor in the movie than it was about the fact that I was losing my damn mind.
Can we just maybe turn that Superbowl trailer into a movie now? It might get the taste of this out of my mouth.