Kangaroo Jack is a buddy-action/comedy flick disguised as a talking-kangaroo comedy aimed at kids from Warner Bros. Pictures. It was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and stars Jerry O'Connell, Anthony Anderson, Christopher Walken, Estella Warren, Michael Shannon, Marton Csokas, and features Adam Garcia as the voice of Kangaroo Jack.
Charlie Carbone (O'Connell) wants to make his stepfather (Walken) happy. He has his own beauty salon, and he does well, but certain complications keep him from turning more than a bare profit—complications like mob payments. Oh, and by the way, this local mob is controlled by Salvatore "Sal" Maggio. Who happens to be Charlie's stepdad. So, obviously, Charlie wants to make his stepdad happy, because when Sal is unhappy, people tend to disappear.
After Charlie and his best friend Louis Booker (Anderson) botch their first job delivering stolen televisions (bringing the police down on Maggio's people), Sal's apprentice Frankie (Shannon) decides to give them one more chance to redeem themselves, by delivering $50,000 to a Mr. Smith (Csokas) in Australia, and if they have any trouble, just call Mr. Smith and he will take care of everything. Too bad Sal has given Smith special instructions to "take care of" Charlie and Louis. And things go from bad to worse when a kangaroo runs off with the money they are supposed to deliver...
Although the film was initially shot as a full-on R-rated gangster comedy to be entitled Down and Under, it was hastily edited down for a PG rating at the last minute, and the film's marketing instead spun it as a kid-friendly Buddy Picture featuring a talking kangaroo (despite said kangaroo only having a scant few minutes of screen time, and only "talking" in a brief dream sequence). It eventually released in January 2003, and was almost universally panned by critics, gaining widespread infamy for its deceptive marketing and expectedly rather adult overtones left over from the original cut. The ploy worked, however, as it became a modest hit at the box-office (grossing over USD 150 million worldwide) during its brief theatrical run.
An animated sequel entitled Kangaroo Jack: G'Day U.S.A.! was produced by Warner Bros. Animation and released Direct to Video in 2004. It notably redressed a lot of the original’s complaints by being both far more straightforwardly kid-friendly and giving the titular kangaroo an actual prominent role in the story.
Kangaroo Jack contains examples of:
- Advertised Extra: Big time. The trailers make it look like it's all about Kangaroo Jack, despite only having less than five minutes of screen time.
- Amusing Injuries: Charlie gets kicked in the face twice, first by Jackie Legs and then by his son. Both times elicit laughter from all present, including Charlie himself.Charlie: I just got my ass kicked by a marsupial!
- Artistic License – Geography: One gets the impression that the American scriptwriters haven’t so much as glanced at a map of Australia.
- Frankie tells Charlie and Louis to fly to Sydney, and from there drive due north to Coober Pedy. In reality, Coober Pedy is west-northwest from Sydney (and a 2000-kmnote drive, in case anyone's interested).
- And then they somehow end up in Alice Springs, nearly 700 kmnote north of Coober Pedy.
- Battle Bolas: Jessie helps Charlie and Louis construct their own aboriginal-style bolas and then trains them to throw and catch things with them. They fail to catch the kangaroo with the bolas, but in the end, Charlie uses his bolas to snag his nemesis, Frankie, and successfully foils his escape from Australian authorities.
- Beachcombing: What Louis is doing when Charlie meets him.
- Bad Butt: All of the mobsters in this movie. There is hardly any violence, and the strongest language happens when Frankie gets angry from the "puked-up furball of a mess" in the "sphincter of the galaxy" caused by Charlie and Louis, or when Mr. Smith tells them that they'd be "a banger short of a barbie" if they don't deliver the money.
- Big Bad: Sal, Charlie’s stepfather who just so happens to also be the big-time mobster ordering the money’s delivery.
- Black Comedy: Sal playing a game where he has to define a word and use it in a sentence. The word is "amorphous".Sal: Amorphous: having no definite form; shapeless. As in "After Joey Clams got whacked, his head was amorphous."
- Boxing Kangaroo: Charlie learns about this trope the hard way.
- Brain Freeze: Spoofed when Charlie and Louis are wandering the desert. Charlie hallucinates finding a car, food, and drink. Louis stares at Charlie drinking an imaginary drink and screaming, "Brain freeze!"
- Cain and Abel: Charlie and his stepbrother Frankie. Charlie would rather have as little to do with crime as much as possible, while Frankie has been a career criminal since he was a teenager.
- Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: An evil variant — Sal is a Soft-Spoken Sadist, while his protégé Frankie is basically his rabid attack dog.
- Celebrity Resemblance: Parodied — Louis apparently thinks he looks like Denzel Washington. (He totally doesn't.)
- Chekhov's Gun: Several, including Charlie's hairdressing scissors and Louis' Jawbreakers.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Mr. Jimmy the tour guide is actually an undercover cop, Senior Sergeant Jimmy Inkamala.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: The crazy old lady in the animated sequel.
- Cool Shades: Jack's wayfarer-like shades.
- Covers Always Lie: Both the DVD cover and poster (above) try to make it look like the movie is about a talking kangaroo. Unfortunately, he doesn't speak outside of the dream sequence, nor is he the main character. Additionally, the "brooklyn" logo on the hoodie is wearing on said DVD cover and poster looks very different than it does in the final product.
- Crossing the Desert: The boys have to do this after both their rental car and the Flying Dingo IV crash. Along the way, they get caught in a Deadly Dust Storm.
- Death Glare: Sal gives Louis a very effective one after the latter says anything questioning him.
- Disney Death: Kangaroo Jack. This proves unfortunate when he runs away after Louis gives him his lucky jacket.
- Deus ex Machina: Type 2, when Mr. Jimmy is revealed to be a undercover cop and saves them in a helicopter out of nowhere.
- Don't Answer That: A non-legal example combined with Rule of Three when Charlie pulls a gun on Mr. Smith to save Jessie.Smith: Have you ever held a gun before, Charlie?
Louis: Don't answer that.
Charlie: (Beat) No.
Smith: Have you ever killed anyone before, Charlie?
Louis: Don't answer that.
Charlie: (Beat) No.
Smith: What is it you do that makes you so brave?
Louis: Really don't answer that.
Charlie: (Beat, then raises gun) I'm a hairdresser. Now drop the knife.
- The Dragon: Frankie, Sal's biological son and groomed to be his successor in his criminal empire.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Charlie and Louis are forced to endure misfortune after misfortune after arriving in Australia, but by the end of it all, they are both rich and successful due to using the fifty grand as startup money for a brand-new line of shampoo products made from the snakeskin lily berries Jessie introduced them to, with Jessie herself being married to Charlie, who is finally happy to be out from under Sal's thumb.
- For Want Of A Nail: Addressed by Charlie, who tells Louis that if he never put the money in his jacket, and put the jacket on the kangaroo, they would have delivered the money to Smith right away, and he would've killed them.
- Four Is Death: Guess the fate of the bush plane Flying Dingo IV. Go on, guess.
- Good Luck Charm: Louis's red jacket is a zigzagged example. On the one hand, Charlie points that he and Louis have had nothing but misfortune befall them in all the time Louis has been wearing the jacket. But then it is revealed that the money Charlie and Louis were supposed to deliver to Smith was payment for their execution on Sal's orders. Charlie has a complete turnaround regarding the jacket at the end, saying that if Louis hadn't put the money in the jacket and then put the jacket on the kangaroo, they would have delivered the money to Smith without incident and been killed by him as Sal wanted.
- Gosh Darn It to Heck!: Due to reshoots and edits to help make the finished film more family-friendly, there’s occasional dialogue that contains minced oaths in place of profanity.
- Gunship Rescue: Courtesy of Mr. Jimmy at the end.
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Charlie and Louis run into a kangaroo with their truck. Louis then puts his red lucky jacket with the $50,000 in the jacket on the kangaroo and take their pictures. The kangaroo then wakes up and takes off with Louis red jacket and they go on a wild chase after the Kangaroo wearing only the red jacket with money in it. Later on in the cartoon sequel Kangaroo Jack: G'Day, U.S.A.!, the kangaroo still wears the red jacket but still doesn't have shoes or pants on, except when he boxes, he wears shorts but no shirt.
- Happily Married: Jackie and his mate in the animated sequel. The movie's only emotional stake is how much he adores her and their joey and longs to get back to them.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Eventually lampshaded with Charlie and Louis.
- Impeded Messenger: The whole plot, which turns out to be fortunate for our intrepid heroes.
- Innocent Innuendo: We see some guys looking at an envelope full of money in an airplane toilet, and cut to outside the toilet where we hear them saying something about scooping up brown and green stuff. Ewwwww...
- And then there's Charlie asking Louis to reach into his pants. For his hairdressing scissors.
- Ironic Echo: "Hey Frankie! Go long!"
- Irony: In the beginning Charlie says that Louis' "Lucky Jacket" has never gave him luck. But from the moment Louis takes it off and puts it on the kangaroo, not only do things keep going From Bad to Worse for them, but whenever it seems like things are finally starting to go their way, something happens that makes the situation even worse. For example:
- Louis and Charlie get a personal number for a pilot to help them find the kangaroo, only to find that it's the man that just blacked out right in front of them.
- Then later when they do find Jack and try to tranquilize him, a sudden shift causes Louis to accidentally tranq the pilot instead, causing them to crash the plane and have to walk through the desert.
- Later when they see Jackie again with Jessie and try to ambush him, it fails because Louis had ants in his pants and his pain-filled screams gave them away just before it would've worked. They decide to just try again tomorrow, but by then it's too late because Mr. Smith and his goons find them before they even wake up.
- Then when Louis is finally able to get the money back, he nearly falls off of a cliff to his death.
- But probably the biggest irony is that if they hadn't put the money in the jacket, put the jacket on the kangaroo, and gone through all of that, then they would've delivered the money to Mr. Smith, and he would've killed them. This fact is enough to make Charlie admit that Louis's lucky jacket is in fact lucky. Also, these events allow them to start a successful company and for Charlie to fall in love and marry, something he was convinced he would never be able to do in the beginning of the movie
- Louis and Charlie get a personal number for a pilot to help them find the kangaroo, only to find that it's the man that just blacked out right in front of them.
- I Told You So: While Charlie makes light of Louis's "Lucky Jacket" putting the money in the jacket and the jacket on Jack was the luckiest thing that could have happened. Furthermore, all the trouble Louis got Charlie into while wearing that jacket brought them to a point where they become rich and happy. Louis takes a moment to say it out loud once Charlie points out just how lucky it turned out to be.
- Kangaroos Represent Australia: Most of the Australian animal action is done by Kangaroo Jack.
- Land Down Under: To a ridiculous extent. All there is in Australia is desert, according to this film. And everyone is drunk, all the time. It says a lot about the representation that most Australians, who don't mind playing up the stereotypical idea of their country, were more than a little insulted by how the country was presented.
- Leitmotif: The kangaroo has a brief, Dr. Dre-esque hip-hop tune that plays whenever he appears. Yes it's bouncy, why do you ask?
- Lifesaving Misfortune: Charlie spells it out at the end. Had they not lost the money to the 'roo but instead delivered it to Mr. Smith, he would've killed them as they were unknowingly paying him to do.
- Magical Negro: Louis can be seen as this type of character. His entire story arc is about Charlie and in the end it's revealed that he is either responsible or has played a role in every good thing that happened in Charlie's life. Because of Louis, Charlie was saved from drowning as a child, got the idea to use the berries for a new line of shampoo and met Jessie who he later married. Even the misfortune ended up saving their lives and got Charlie's draconian, mobster stepfather and step-brother convicted.
- Manchild: Louis pretty much hasn't matured a day since he saved Charlie's life at 8 years old. Charlie is also only so much more mature.
- Man Hug:
- The Millstone: Louis causes pretty much everything bad that happens. Subverted, though, as the one really big mistake he makes ends up saving their lives and Louis was the one who unintentionally gave Charlie the idea he used to become a millionaire.
- Misplaced Wildlife: The dromedary camels Charlie, Louis and Jessie ride to catch the kangaroo are not native to Australia. To be fair, the invasive, feral camels living in real-life Australia aren't native either.
- Mistaken for Gay: Louis gets onto the plane's bathroom while Charlie is in just to show him the cash. Unfortunately the dialogue makes the stewardess believe they are doing other things. More embarrassing is that once they get out the girl he tried to woo minutes earlier sees them.
- Mr. Smith:
- Ms. Fanservice: Estella Warren as Jessie.
- Moment Killer: Louis, when Charlie and Jessie are kissing while taking a Waterfall Shower.Charlie: This is the most sensual, romantic moment of my entire life. (goes in for another kiss when Louis comes in for a very loud cannonball, splashing them both) And now it's over.
- My Greatest Failure: Charlie wished he said something to his mother about marrying Sal Maggio.
- Never Trust a Trailer: Or even a poster or a DVD cover either. This movie is not about a wise-cracking, talking kangaroo, and it is more surrealistic than actually kid-friendly despite the PG rating. He does talk in the animated sequel, thanks to a magic spell.
- Word of God has it that this movie was intended to be a straightforward adult comedy, with the kangaroo's appearance originally never played up beyond its status as a brief gag. However, test audiences were completely uninterested in the bulk of the movie and only responded well to the kangaroo, so the aforementioned scene was extended and the whole film itself was instead spun as though it were a kids’ comedy film about the titular kangaroo in the hopes of drawing in more audiences.
- Non-Action Big Bad: Sal, who spends the majority of the movie back in New York while Mr. Smith and Frankie do most of the villain work in the movie
- Noodle Incident: "How was I supposed to know those Greyhounds were being used to smuggle diamonds?"
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Mr Jimmy the Indigenous Australian guide who is later revealed to be an undercover police officer on the trail of the hitman, Mr Smith. He doesn't act very intelligent, and also comes across as a rather stereotypical portrayal of an indigenous Australian. It's revealed that it was an act and he is actually articulate, well-spoken, multicultural police officer.
- Oh, Crap!: Louis gets a big one when he accidentally shoots Blue with the tranquilizer gun while he's flying the plane.
- One Phone Call: In the animated sequel, Louis and Charlie got arrested. Louis used his phone call to call Charlie.
- Overly-Long Gag: The entire bathroom chat between Charlie and Louis, rife with Toilet Humor and a hurricane of Double Entendres.
Nostalgia Critic: She has tits! CHRIST!!
- Louis commenting on Jessie's rack, gesturing so much that even Charlie looks disturbed.
- Pet the Dog: Subverted with what Sal tends to for Charlie.
- He did not complain when Charlie refused to take up the Maggio name and even helped his stepson set up his own beauty parlor, but he only did the latter out of respect for Charlie's mother and has his men seize eighty percent of the profits Charlie makes each week, leaving Charlie with not enough to make improvements to his business.
- Though upset with Charlie and Louis for leading the NYPD to his warehouse and having many of his stolen goods seized, he allows the two a chance to redeem themselves to him by giving them a mission to travel to Australia to deliver a package to a man called Mr. Smith. At the film's climax, Frankie tells them that Sal was never giving them a second chance; he was only sending them to pay Mr. Smith to execute them for him.
- Please Shoot the Messenger: After receiving the payment they're delivering.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Frankie calls the police officers "pansy-ass retards".
- P.O.V. Shot: When Blue gets tranq'd and experiences the initial symptom: temporary blindness.
- Product Delivery Ordeal: Two childhood friends, a New York hairstylist and a would-be musician, get caught up with the mob. After botching their first job delivering stolen televisions, the two men are given a second chance and must deliver $50,000 to a contact in Australia. As simple as the job sounds, complications emerge when a wild kangaroo runs off with the money. Now, the two friends must find the kangaroo and get the money back before they find themselves in a worse predicament.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Louis and Charlie, respectively. Then again, compared to Louis, everybody else is a blue oni.
- Serkis Folk: The kangaroo.
- Short-Distance Phone Call: Louis gets the number for a local bush pilot that he and Charlie can hire. Just before he places the call, an old man named Blue passes out next to them after some hard drinking. Louis and Charlie shrug it off, Louis places the call—and Blue's cell phone starts ringing.Charlie: (on Blue's cell phone) Louis?
Charlie: Got a backup plan?
- Spanner in the Works: Ol Jack himself with some help from Louis. If Jack hadn't revived when he did, it wouldn't have lead to the goose chase and would've lead to Charlie and Louis death since the money was meant to payment for a hit on the two. What's more, Charlie realizes his self-worth through the whole experience and finally stands up to Sal which results in Sal's arrest at the end of the film.
- Standard Snippet: Naturally, Men at Work's "Down Under" is featured shortly after the boys get to Sydney and set off for Coober Pedy. A remix by former frontman Colin Hay is featured on the soundtrack album.
- Thanks for the Mammary: When Charlie first meets Jessie, he's delirious from heatstroke and assumes her to be a mirage (having already encountered one). He then grabs her boobs and is surprised at how real they feel. This earns him a canteen to the forehead.
- Title Drop: The Kangaroo is named Jackie Legs by Louis after the main characters hit him with their car, but only one line actually refers to him as “Kangaroo Jack.”
- Toilet Humor:
- On the plane's toilet, Charlie and Louis discuss a bag of money, but the phrasing makes it sound they're discussing a pile of poop. Cue various concerned and disgusted reactions from the passengers overhearing.
- During the duo’s trek through the desert with Jessie, the camels they are riding start passing a lot of gas. While Jessie assures them this is normal, Charlie and Louis can’t stand the smell and thus resort to countering it with the mysterious berries they find.
- Tranquil Fury: Sal never raises his voice while giving Charlie and Louis "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
- Tranquillizer Dart: Discussed when the protagonists accidentally shoot a dart to their airplane pilot while they are airborne; the pilot experiences the effects in stages as noted by one of them.Blue: Assume crash positions!
Louis: Blue... we already crashed.
- Uncle Tom Foolery: Louis is depicted as a constantly loud and brash Butt-Monkey who is simultaneously overly afraid of pretty much every situation he finds himself in.
- Uriah Gambit: The money Charlie and Louis were ordered to deliver to Smith was actually the Australian hitman's payment for carrying out a hit taken out on them by Sal.Louis: You mean we travelled halfway across the world to pay for our own execution?
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The plot was inspired by an urban legend.
- Wham Line: Courtesy of Frankie when he reveals why Sal sent Charlie and Louis to Australia in the first place.Frankie: You don't get it, do you, Charlie? Sal's not disappointed because he cares about the money, he's disappointed because you two aren't dead! What do you think he was paying Smith fifty grand for?Louis: You mean we travelled halfway across the world to pay for our own execution?Frankie: Yeah, you two guys were the bagmen for your own hit.
- Where da White Women At?: Lampshaded by Louis, who is very taken with Jessie when he meets her based on her looks.
- Wicked Stepmother: Sal is A Gender Flipped example to Charlie. Though he helps his stepson set up his own beauty salon per the wishes of his wife and Charlie's mother, he has his men take eighty percent of the profits Charlie makes each week, leaving Charlie with barely enough to make ends meets and unable to improve his business. It turns out that he has no affection for Charlie whatsoever when Frankie reveals to Charlie and Louis that the entire point of them going to Australia to deliver the fifty grand to Smith in the first place was so Sal could pay Smith for executing them.