Double Feature: ’Crocodile’ Dundee and ’Crocodile’ Dundee II
Remember Paul Hogan? For a brief period in the late 1980s, the rugged Australian comic was a bona fide movie star thanks to his creation of Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee, an easy-going Bushman that tames the more jagged elements of the Outback and the Big Apple with effortless insouciance. This Blu-ray double-feature brings Hogan's once-popular character back -- and while the films may not seem as much fun they did in the '80s, they offer a reminder that Hogan was a capable performer whose star power dimmed far too quickly.
In the first film, released in 1986, "Crocodile" Dundee is the focus of a news story being written by American journalist Sue Charlton (Linda Kozlowski). The film serves up the usual fish-out-of-water jokes, with the Yank writer trying to rough it in the Outback while the Bushman casually adapts to what he perceives as New York's eccentric protocol. It is all quite predictable, but Hogan's raffish charisma -- most memorably in his flippant encounter with a knife-wielding mugger -- and his unmistakable chemistry with Kozlowski (the actors would later marry) made the film a pleasant distraction. Hogan would win a Golden Globe and the film's screenplay, incredibly, secured an Oscar nomination (no mean feat for a light comedy).
Not surprisingly, a sequel was quickly churned out. But as with most sequels, lightning failed to strike twice -- the fish-out-of-water gags seemed repetitive in this 1988 feature, a clear indication that the Dundee character was not meant for extended adventures. Complicating matters was an overheated and violent plot involving a Colombian drug cartel. The breeziness that made the original film a happy distraction was steamrolled in this overheated narco-terrorist adventure, and the climax with Dundee leading the Colombians on a wild chase through the Outback was painfully unfunny. Still, Hogan's winning personality helped to make this noisy, wacky mess somewhat palatable.
Hogan was smart enough to realize that Dundee could only go so far. But, to date, he was unable to maintain a film niche and his undistinguished subsequent work seemed to suggest that the Dundee films were a fluke. Unwisely, Hogan and Kozlowski made a belated and bumbling 2001 follow-up, "Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles" - that is not included in this collection, mercifully.
"Crocodile" Dundee & "Crocodile" Dundee II
PG-13 and PG
Paramount Home Media, $24.99
Special features: Behind-the-scenes featurette