All it takes is a brand new Mick Dundee adventure to make it feel like the late 1980s all over again.
Coming a whopping 13 years after the last installment featuring the original crocodile hunter, "Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles" (IMDb listing) takes us right back to the familiar charms and agreeable chemistry of the 1986 original. Returning star Paul Hogan to the role that made him a worldwide sensation, this new "Crocodile" is like having a beer with an old friend. No worries indeed.
With his son Mikey (Serge Cockburn), and wife Sue (a returning Linda Kozlowski), Mick Dundee (Paul Hogan) lives the quiet life in Walkabout Creek, Australia. When Sue is called back to work at her family newspaper located in Los Angeles, Mick and Mikey decide to tag along for some sight seeing. Soon enough, Mick finds himself on the Paramount Studios lot helping to train animals for films, when he notices that the art on the walls of the set are works that are not all what they seem. Inspired by a steady diet of American cop TV shows, Mick sets off to investigatein his trademarked "What me worry?" waywhat's going on behind the scenes.
Reteaming with his "Lightning Jack" director, Simon Wincer, Paul Hogan isn't very determined to bring his Dundee character into the new millennium. "Dundee 3" has the same touches as its predecessors, right down to the requisite fish-out-of-water, big city montage that's screaming to be accompanied by the Randy Newman hit, "I Love L.A." A lot of time has passed for Mick and his family, yet Hogan keeps his trademark character blissfully naive. Scenes of Mick negotiating L.A. traffic, ordering fast food, or trying to figure out crosswalks would normally be breathtakingly lame coming out of anybody but Hogan. He knows his appeal, and he has an uncanny ability to milk laughs out of any situation, often with a simple grin and a wink.
The plot is less successful, as it's just a backdrop to get Mick out of Walkabout. The supporting cast featuring Jere Burns as the rogue and Paul Rodriguez as an industry acquaintance of Mick's do just fine with the little that they have. Unfortunately, Kozlowski isn't given much to do besides continuing to look fantastic after all this time. Then again, that's all she did in the other installments.
When I say they don't make 'em like this anymore, I mean it. A tame, PG, family film hasn't been something Hollywood has been interested in making for almost a decade now. "Dundee 3" is particularly restrained and only asks of the audience to sit back and laugh a little. In this day and age where helmets and kneepads are a requirement for family films, "Dundee 3" has all the energy of wallpaperwallpaper that's exceedingly gentle and often robustly humorous. Being so used to the velocity of modern films, it takes a good 20 minutes to realize that this movie just isn't going to jump in your face. Once you've equalized, the film is easy to enjoy. The laughs come quickly and there isn't a life lesson to be learned. How revolutionary.
Still, no matter how many things stay the same, some elements just don't play to audiences the way they used to. The mysterious edge to the Mick Dundee character has been eliminated. Once a crocodile poacher, Mick now hunts crocs humanely and for sport, never killing them. Long gone are the cocaine and hooker gags that populated the first "Crocodile Dundee" as well. Here they are replaced by tame California enema culture jokes, and a one brief sight gag with Mick mistaking a Hollywood "cowboy" bar for the real thing.
The production really misses a glorious opportunity by not asking the "other" crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin, in for a cameo. That would've been priceless. "Dundee 3" settles for a bizarre drop in from George Hamilton, and an unexpected cameo from Mike Tyson. Playing himself, Tyson wins the biggest laugh award in a situation where he teaches Mick and Mikey some meditation moves. Seeing "Iron" Mike inhale the good air and exhale the bad air is worth the price of admission alone.
No, it's not going to change the world, but as horrifically belated sequels go, "Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles" actually works. Hopefully, with his newly rejuvenated sense of play, Paul Hogan can stage a comeback and return his much missed comic abilities to celluloid where they belong.
Filmfodder Grade: B