CrocodileDundeecoverGrade: B, C+
Entire family: No
1986, 1988; 97 min., 111 min,; Color
Paramount
PG-13 for adult situations, mild language, violence; PG for violence, language
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1 widescreen
Featured audio: DTS-HD MA 2.0, DTS-HD MA 5.1
Bonus features: N/A, D
Trailer / trailer

The ‘80s were big on a lot of things—like big hair, big shoulder pads, and big techno beats driving the music. In Hollywood, filmmakers were big on fish-out-of-water stories. You saw Eddie Murphy as a streetwise cop who shakes Beverly Hills up while on vacation, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as a cop out of his element as a kindergarten teacher, working undercover to catch a bad guy. But the most surprising fish-out-of-water—make that croc-out-of-water—success story was a 1986 Australian comedy-adventure starring Paul Hogan as Crocodile Dundee. The relatively low-budget film became the second highest grossing movie in the U.S. that year, and also worldwide.

The likable Hogan co-wrote the screenplay and starred as Mick Dundee, an outback guide who draws the attention of a New York journalist on assignment in Sydney. Dressed to the nines in ‘80s style, she heads for the outback to see where this Dundee fellow was when he was attacked by a monster crocodile, but managed to drag himself out of the bush to seek medical help. So the two of them have a little outback adventure all their own as she tries to get him to retrace his steps for her magazine story. Predictably, this Jane starts to fall for her rugged Tarzan, who doesn’t skip a beat in conversation as he picks up a snake near their campfire, breaks its neck, and tosses it aside. There’s mild violence here that’s mostly played for laughs, but there is one moment of peril Sue has with a crocodile that will briefly scare younger children. 

CrocodileDundeescreen1For the first half of the film Sue (Linda Kozlowski) is the fish out of water, but the pace quickens and the gags get funnier when she invites Dundee, who was raised by Aborigines, to take his first trip ever outside of his native land and return with her to New York City. The second half of the film it’s especially fun watching this Australian roughneck deal with local customs, traffic jams, subways, streetlights, and a rival for Sue’s attention—her boss, in fact, to whom she becomes engaged. Mostly, it’s fun seeing Dundee interact with various New Yorkers, making friends the way locals never dreamed could be possible. His toughness and survival savvy is balanced by a childlike innocence that makes him endearing not only to his love interest, but to audiences as well. This film merits a B on the Family Home Theater scale.

That’s not the case with the sequel, but as with double features like Miss Congeniality/Miss Congeniality 2 and Analyze This/Analyze That, it’s nice to have both films in the same standard size Blu-ray case. Despite their modest budgets, both films, each on its own separate disc, look terrific in high definition and are definitely worth the upgrade if you already own the title(s) on DVD. When they’re together in a bargain-priced package, you don’t mind so much that the second film isn’t as successful.

Curiously, Crocodile Dundee is rated PG-13, probably for adult situations, mild violence, and a relative handful of swearwords. Dundee has a run-in with prostitutes whom he innocently thinks are “single ladies” even after their pimp comes along, and he does insist on seeing for himself when he encounters a transvestite in a bar—though his “grab” is more implied than shown. But Crocodile Dundee 2, which is rated only PG, is more violent and more profane.

CrocodileDundeescreen2In the sequel, Sue’s ex-husband, a photojournalist who tackles dangerous assignments, captures a drug lord on film as he assassinates someone (the camera cuts away for the actual shot, but quickly cuts back so we see the body fall) and there are drug references and more intense scenes of violence than in the first film. If I were on the ratings board I would have given both films a PG-13 rating.

Crocodile Dundee 2 gets off to a violent start but then slows down to where we’re watching not a fish-out-of-water comedy but a standard crime story—and one we’ve seen before. Sue’s ex- sent the film to her, and the drug lords of course come to New York City, where Mick is still trying to make the best of things. Just as the first film picked up speed when Mick came to New York, the sequel gets more interesting when the Colombian drug lords follow track Mick and Sue to their outback sanctuary and are out of their element.

My family loved the first film but only thought the second half of the sequel entertaining. The first half, it was as if the filmmakers couldn’t quite figure out what to do with Dundee. For that reason, it’s a C+ on the Family Home Theater scale.

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