Crocodile Dundee

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Sue Charlton is a feature writer for Newsday (which her father owns) and is dating her editor, Richard Mason. She travels to Walkabout Creek, a small hamlet in the Northern Territory of Australia, to meet Michael J. “Crocodile” Dundee, a bushman reported to have lost half a leg to a Saltwater Crocodile. On arrival in Walkabout Creek (by helicopter due to its remote location), she cannot locate Dundee, but she is entertained at the local pub by Dundee’s business partner Walter “Wally” Reilly, who does his best to explain the town and some of its inhabitants, including the towering hulk Donk, who wins money by placing a glass of beer on his head and challenging people to try and spill the beer by punching him in the stomach. When Dundee arrives that night, Sue finds his leg is not missing, but he has a large scar which he refers to as a “love bite”. While Sue dances with Dundee, a group of city kangaroo shooters make fun of Dundee’s status as a crocodile hunter, causing him to knock the leader out with one punch. Feeling lucky, he then challenges Donk and makes him spill the entire glass by kissing him on the lips and startling him into dropping the tankard.

At first, Sue finds Dundee less “legendary” than she had been led to believe, being unimpressed by his pleasant-mannered but uncouth behaviour and clumsy advances towards her; however, she is later amazed, when in the Outback, she witnesses “Mick” (as Dundee is called) subduing a Wild Asian Water Buffalo, taking part in an Aboriginal tribal dance ceremony, killing a snake with his bare hands, and scaring away the kangaroo shooters from the pub from their destructive sport of shooting kangaroos. Mick shoots at their truck using a dead kangaroo as cover, making them think the kangaroo is shooting at them, which in their drunken state causes them to flee. The next morning, offended by Mick’s assertion that as a “sheila” (Aussie slang for a female) she is incapable of surviving the Outback alone, Sue goes out alone to prove him wrong but takes his rifle with her at his request. Mick follows her to make sure she is OK, but when she stops at a billabong to refill her canteen, she is attacked by a crocodile and is rescued by Mick. Overcome with gratitude, Sue finds herself becoming attracted to him.

Sue invites Mick to return with her to New York City on the pretext of continuing the feature story. At first Wally scoffs at her suggestion, but he changes his mind when she tells him the newspaper would cover all expenses. Once in New York, Mick is perplexed by local behaviour and customs but overcomes problematic situations including two encounters with a pimp and two attempted robberies. After this Sue realizes her true feelings for him, and they kiss.

At a society dinner at her father’s home in honour of Sue’s safe return and of Mick’s visit, Richard proposes marriage to Sue, and in a haze of confused emotions, she initially accepts in spite of Richard having recently revealed his self-centered and insensitive “true colours” during a period of intoxication. Mick, disheartened at Sue’s engagement, decides to go ‘walkabout’ around the USA, but Sue has a change of heart and, deciding not to marry Richard, follows Mick to a subway station. There, she cannot reach him through the crowd on the platform, but has members of the crowd relay her message to him, whereupon he climbs up to the rafters and walks to Sue on the heads and raised hands of the onlookers and embraces her.

REVIEW:

Growing up, I used to play a game on the original Nintendo called Bayou Billy. It didn’t strike me until recently that it may have been influenced by Crocodile Dundee. Now, does that mean either is the greatest thing since sliced bread? Of course not, but I’m on a nostalgia kick today and it has been forever and day since I last saw this flick. Let’s see how it has held up over time.

What is this about?

When a New York reporter (Linda Kozlowski) plucks crocodile hunter Dundee (Paul Hogan) from the Australian Outback for a visit to the Big Apple, it’s a clash of cultures and a recipe for good-natured comedy as naïve Dundee negotiates the concrete jungle. Dundee proves that his instincts are quite useful in the city and adeptly handles everything from wily muggers to high-society snoots without breaking a sweat.

What did I like?

Have fun with it. So often these days we see actors take a role and it feels as if it was done just for a paycheck. With Paul Hogan, that isn’t the case. He is truly having fun with this character and owning every aspect of him. I think this is even his creation, but don’t quote me. Seeing Hogan’s strut around in his crocodile skin gear, flashing that smile just makes you wish for more guys like this these  days, not the brooding superheroes (who don’t want to be heroes, btw) that plague our screens.

New York. New York is one of those cities that is able to be as much a character on film as the actors. The people, the colorful language that New Yorkers are known for, traffic, and of course the landmarks (I am always moved to watch a film pre-9/11 and see the Twin Towers). If you can’t appreciate how this plays into the story, I seriously wonder about you. It is magnified because this is a guy from another country and doesn’t know our customs, much like Eddie Murphy’s character, to a lesser extent, was in Coming to America.

Me Tarzan, You Jane. In this time of feminazis, I am so glad to go back to a time and watch a girl be a damsel in distress. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for girl power to an extent, but I am sick of hearing about it, sick of everything having to be female-led now (don’t get me started on this new Ghostbusters), etc. Here’s a note, ladies, sometimes guys want to be the hero and “save you”, as it were. This is what happens between Dundee and the reporter, Sue. While in the Outback, he is saving her from everything in a manner akin to, as she says, “Me Tarzan, You Jane!” This eventually leads to her falling for him, which is a bonus for a guy who lives alone in the middle on nowhere, Australia.

What didn’t I like?

Coke is it. About halfway through the film, Crocodile Dundee and Sue attend some sort of high society party. While there, they encounter a guy snorting coke. Dundee gives him a new way to “blow his nose”, which is worth a chuckle, but the thing to point out is this is the one and only mention of cocaine in this entire flick. It seems rather out of place. Was it placed in there for the joke? Was it put there as a anti-drug statement? Either way, surely this could have been done more subtly, right?

Rom-com ending. Before we get to the film’s end, of course we must endure a scene where the girl chases the guy and catches up to him in a crowded terminal where she has to yell to him in hopes he changes his mind. This kind of thing works in romantic comedies, but *NEWSFLASH* that isn’t what this is. Last I checked, this was just a regular comedy. The rom-com stuff works, but I feel it was out of place in this film. Think about it this way. What if in You’ve Got Mail, Tom Hanks had to fight an army of ninjas to get to Meg Ryan. It would’ve been cool, but out of place.

Coming to America. Given how the story unfolds, I understand why the setting shifted from Australia to America, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Why couldn’t things have stayed in Australia? I’m sure Dundee could have antagonized someone out there in Outback who would have just been waiting for the right moment to strike. Maybe that “sort of” wife he had came back. These are just a couple of ideas that could have kept them in Australia, especially knowing that the sequel is set in New York, from what I recall.

I remember checking Crocodile Dundee out from the local video store when I was a young ‘un. My reaction to it back then was that I loved it. Fast forward ___yrs and my reaction is that I love it, but I see its flaws. I also notice that Paul Hogan looks like walking leather! For me, this is a film that has a few belly laughs and a high nostalgia factor. Do I recommend it? Yes, it is definitely worth a viewing or 10!

4 out of 5 stars

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