A mixture of live action and animation, "Osmosis Jones" (IMDb listing) reminds me of the educational thrill rides at Disneyworld. The rides that are meant to amuse, yet also provide some basic medical background information that subliminally enters your brain. Since no hydraulics were employed at the theater where I attended the screening for "Osmosis Jones," I guess I'll just have to make due with this charming late summer entry.
Frank (Bill Murray) is a complete slob. Much to the dismay of his daughter, Frank is unable to clean up his act. A zoo janitor, Frank happens to ingest an egg that was previously found in a chimp's mouth. As we follow the egg down inside Frank's body, we meet Osmosis Jones (voiced by Chris Rock), a white blood cell detective who makes it his personal mission to stop an evil virus (voiced by Laurence Fishburne) from destroying Frank from the inside out.
"Osmosis Jones" is very similar to those cartoons they showed you in elementary school about how your body works. Updated in a more hip-hop style and lacking any serious medical credentials, "Jones" nonetheless bounces pleasingly from one area of the body to the next, acting as a kind of travelogue for the easily bored. Directed with unusual flair by Piet Kroon and Tom Sito, the animation is colorful and bright, with the attention to detail of inner-Frank's world often striking.
Expectedly having fun with organ puns and the colon, yet also taking the time to investigate the metropolis that lives inside of Frank. "Jones" is mostly a festive little family film that doesn't stray too far from the familiar. It's no "Iron Giant" (the WB cartoon classic from three years ago), but if the current competition is "Doctor Dolittle 2" or "Cats And Dogs," then "Osmosis Jones" is miles ahead of the pack with its creative story ideas and skillful visuals.
As cute as the animated portion of the film is, the real laughs are provided by the live action directors, Peter and Bobby Farrelly. Working in their usual domain of bodily functions and hilariously cheap laughs, the Farrellys don't have much to do in "Osmosis Jones" besides let the cameras roll on Bill Murray as he works the frame. Sure, it's a bit lazy to rely solely on the talent, but Murray is no slouch and he carries the human side of "Osmosis Jones" to some really deep belly laughs. Coming in to support Murray is another Farrelly regular, Chris Elliot, and the two actors share some great scenes as they try to out-slob each other.
The mixture of the two cinematic sides leads to a periodically uneven movie. As soon as you warm up to the animation, the picture jolts back to the live acting, and vice versa. The final conclusion being a bumpy, yet utterly cute comedy that provides some solid distraction, and a little entertainment for those looking for a lighter side of how the body works.
Filmfodder Grade: B