Directed by: John Stainton
Starring: Steve Irwin, Terri Irwin, Magda Szubanski, Kate Beahan
Crikey, mates! The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course is so bad you'll leave the theater feeling really grumpy. It's bargain-matinee fare only. If you have kids, wait until it comes out in video, because all the hype around this movie is a big set-up for disappointment. There wasn't one laugh in the crowded Saturday afternoon audience, even when the star of the movie played in smelly piles of croc poo (a guaranteed kid laugh if ever there was one). It's a whuppin' shame. If there was one family movie I was looking forward to this summer, it was this one. Steve Irwin, as the whole world knows, is that enthusiastic Aussie naturalist whose adventures with Mother Earth's most uncuddly creatures has made him not only a household hero in family entertainment, but a genuine contender in the wildlife conservation arena. (He hunts the crocs to save them, not kill them.) He's married to pretty Terri (a major wildlife naturalist herself, she rehabilitated cougars in Oregon) who now works side-by-side with him on his hyperkinetic nature-adventure series, The Crocodile Hunter on The Animal Planet channel. Shades of Africa's Jane Goodall and Count Hugo, they have a child, little Bindi Sue, who's supposed to be just as gurggly about wild critters as she is with a stuffed koala bear. During the two years it took to make the film, the baby traveled with her parents. As Steve says, the family who hunts crocs together stays together. (I did not make that up -- it's a direct quote from a CNN interview.) Alas, you don't see any of the behind-the-scenes stuff of Steve and Terri and little Bindi back at outback camp at night, talking over the day's adventures and inspiring all us nature-deprived urban families. In fact, director John Stainton has made a family movie with no kids in it. Basically, it's Steve and Terry chasing one animal after another -- a drawn-out version of their TV show. There's the requisite grumpy croc who must be rescued and moved to another location, a cute little Joey (a baby kangaroo), some glistening venomous snakes, and a fascinating furry spider. Meanwhile, stupid subplots keep interfering. One features a shotgun-toting, croc-hating cattle rancher (Magda Szubanski). The other is about boring American and Australian spies, who're racing to retrieve the metal "black box" of an exploded spy satellite that fell to earth and was swallowed by the croc Steve and Terri are trying to rescue. Yawn. Worst of all, some human nastiness oozed creepily into the movie. When one of the bad guys (or gal really, a pouty-lipped Angelina Jolie look-alike, Kate Beahan) crash lands into the croc-infested river, Steve doesn't turn his boat around to rescue her. In fact, he speeds away in the opposite direction, smirkingly delivering one of his favorite wildlife-lover lines: "That's Nature's way." Nature's way to save the crocs but let the humans die? Crikey!