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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, German, Hebrew, Greek, Dutch, Portuguese, English - Hearing Impaired, Turkish, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, German - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Deleted scenes
  • Teaser trailer
  • Audio commentary
  • Featurette
  • Behind the scenes footage

Osmosis Jones

Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 91 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

The animated feature film market has seen something of a renaissance over the past decade, with a number of studios entering the fray in attempts to give Disney a run for their money. Sadly, however, few – with the definite exception of Dreamworks’ Shrek - have made much of a box office blip. Warner Brothers, no strangers to past animated success, have given their much beloved Looney Tunes characters a well-deserved rest and tried it with the criminally underrated and quite gorgeous The Iron Giant, and have once more had a dabble with Osmosis Jones - a combination of live action and animation. It too went belly-up at the box office, and the sad news is that after these two essential flops they are going back to what they know – raping the memories of those timeless creations of Chuck Jones, Mel Blanc and friends with the planned Brendan Fraser starring Looney Tunes – Back in Action, which is due sometime in 2003. Uh-oh, remember Space Jam?

Now, mention of chuck is actually rather apt here, for rather than being another cute and cuddly animated tale, Osmosis Jones revolves around the bodily functions and internal workings of one rather slovenly human being named Frank (Bill Murray). And when you’re looking at making a gross film, which two names instantly spring to mind? Why Peter and Bobby Farrelly, of course, who were responsible for all the live action segments here.

After losing his wife, and then his fairly lucrative job at a pea soup factory (due to an unfortunate incident involving vomit), Frank is a shadow of his former self. Despite having a bright-as-a-button ten year old daughter to look after, he’s let himself go completely. Breakfasts of fried chicken have become the norm, and he’s really not in a good way at all. He’s now eking out somewhat of an existence as a cleaner at the zoo, and when he eats a hard-boiled egg which one of his simian charges drops – applying his ten second rule whereby if it hits the ground for less than this time it’s fair game for the scoffing – all hell breaks loose within him.

So now we get to see inside the City of Frank – a remarkable animated microcosm of cities and citizens all with one aim in life, that of keeping our Frank ticking. Our hero, as such, is the titular character Osmosis Jones (Chris Rock being very Chris Rock-ish) – a white blood cell cop with the worst record on the force. The laughing stock of all around him, including his crush in Mayor Phlegming’s aide Leah (Brandy), he’s out to prove himself – and when a new germ hitches a ride in to town on that egg, the somewhat deadly Thrax (Laurence Fishburne), he’s the only one who senses something big is going down (or coming up as the case may be), whereas everybody else thinks they’re just battling a common cold. He’s not alone in his fight, for he teams up with Drix (the whitest guy in the world, David Hyde Pierce) – a by-the-book cold tablet, and together they do the buddy-cop genre thing as the fate of Frank ends up well and truly in their – umm, hand-type things. With only 48 Hours to save Frank, can they come up with a suitably Lethal Weapon to defeat the evil Thrax?

"Come on! We've got a cold to catch!"

The blending of live action and animation is scarcely a new one, with Unca Walt doing it before most of us were even born. It hasn’t been tackled too often since, and when it has it’s been to varying degrees of success. For every Who Framed Roger Rabbit? there’s been a Monkeybone, as it were. Osmosis Jones actually shares some common ground with the latter, taking a refreshingly non-cute stab at proceedings, but unfortunately it also tends to fall somewhat flat on its face many a time, with the combination of the two genres just coming across as clunky rather than fluid. The Farrellys are running at full tilt as per usual – so their fans should be well pleased – however these portions of the film seem somewhat tacked on in order to provide some sort of vaguely coherent narrative to allow for the real fun of the film – the goings on inside Frank. The animators and all others involved should be well-pleased with their work, and frankly (urgh!) their creation deserves more recognition than it has received. There’s some incredible creativity and artistry going on here, from all the wonderfully organic, always pulsating innards to the layer-upon-layer visual gags peppered (ach-oo!) throughout which only the most alert will take in on first sitting. As for the characters, a combination of traditional animation techniques and rendering work has been utilised – the best example being the team of Osmosis and Drix. The former is hand drawn and displays a wonderful fluidity of movement, whilst the brilliantly characterised latter is computer rendered, suiting the stiffness of the character to a tee.

  Video
Contract

It’s always wonderful watching a film that was made in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio in the same ratio within the comfiness of one’s own home, Osmosis Jones doesn’t disappoint here, and needless to say it is anamorphically enhanced.

It seems prudent to split the video descriptions into two distinct sections – outer and inner (please feel free to substitute your own desired synonyms if you feel these ones blow chunks). To be honest, the outer (or ‘real life’) section lets the whole package down a tad, with many obvious examples of aliasing and shimmer, plus some obvious edge enhancement being the worst greeblies. Detail is pretty good, as is shadow detail – and pleasingly there isn’t a sign of anything in the way of such diseases as speckles or scratches – so you can put the Dettol back in the cupboard.

It’s the inner (or animated if you wish) section, however, that really pleases. Colour is simply sumptuous – scrumptious even – and all are as solid as a kidney stone (assuming they’re hard – having so far mercifully not experienced such things...), with no bleeding or fuzziness in evidence at all. It manages to be sharp without inducing plagues of jaggies and delivers often remarkable detail – which is needed to catch many of the fleeting background jokes – you’ll need good gag reflexes for this one (oops...) The layer change is also delightfully non-intrusive, skipping by virtually undetected on first viewing.

  Audio
Contract

A choice of three Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks have been deep fried and served up to us, in fish and chips (MMMmmm!), wiener schnitzel and paella. Erm, actually that should read English, German or Spanish. Being as fluent in German and Spanish as an icy pole stick, I opted for the English, which is quite a fabulous little mix. If you like lots of bass in your face, and your subwoofwoof’s up to the challenge, you’ll have much to keep you vibing away through the film, with an often remarkable amount of oomph sucked from both sound effects and the soundtrack and sent thumping through the floor. Surround usage is often rampant and nicely engulfing, whilst the front soundstage often delivers some quite aggressive stereo effects to keep things appetising. All dialogue is fabulously clear, while lip synch varies from perfect for the real life bits to as good as it gets in a cartoon for the animated bits.

Randy Edelman was given the task of coming up with what traditional score Osmosis Jones contains, but is generally shouted down by the many DOOFy rap numbers that litter the sound scape. Such acts as De La Soul, Kid(ney) Rock, R. Kelly, Brandy (not surprisingly), Craig David and Moby (the slapper!) supply tracks, and there’s even a disturbing concept all of its own, a Foreigner remix (naturally it’s Hot Blooded).

Please note that this film also carries an official Diane Warren song warning, so approaching the end credits with due caution - and a finger poised above the ‘puke’ button - is strongly recommended.

  Extras
Contract

Any company proudly presenting thousands of hours of animation work on DVD would go to the effort of creating some wonderful animated menus, right? Well, not necessarily. We do, at least, get some wickedly dreadful puns though – ‘Play Movie’ becomes ‘Bowel Movie’, ‘Scene Selections’ turns into ‘Spleen Cellections’, ‘Special Features’ in turn changes to ‘Smelly Feetures’... you get the picture.

Popping a peg on the old schnozz and venturing into this latter category throws up a pleasant enough selection of extra goodies...

Audio commentary - animation directors Piet Kroon and Tom Sito, producer Zak Penn and screenwriter Marc Hyman: This commentary manages to be a laugh a minute as four of the boffins behind the animated sequences play off each other really well, whilst also delivering some decent insights into their creation and pointing out many of the multi-layered funny bits that just may have been missed first time around.

HBO First Look Special - The Making of Osmosis Jones: The voice of Leah, Brandy, floats all about the screen in this 14.09 full frame affair, which brings us brief interview snippets with most of the on-screen and voice cast, directors and others behind the production. It’s a pleasant enough, if hardly over-nourishing, introduction to the film.

Behind the Scenes - Osmosis Jones – Investigating the Vocal Cords : Concentrating on the voice cast, this full frame 5:12 presentation has a few double ups from the HBO special, but only really suffers from peaking and disappearing way too quickly, as it’s quite entertaining.

Deleted Scenes: Three scenes presented in one lump lasting for 5:49, bits of the final film are included so as to allow us to get our bearings. Mostly grosser bits and pieces, the quality of the un-enhanced 2.35:1 vision is pretty darned crappy, but there are some funny bits to behold. It is also interesting to see footage at various stages of completion, ranging from final renders to simple animated pencil drawings.

Trailer: This is the teaser for the film, clocking in at a brief 1:11, but at least presented in rather lovely 16x9 enhanced 2.35:1 vision.

Frank’s Gross Anatomy/Choose a Foul Scene: An option from the main menu which facilitates jumps to scenes involving key pieces of Frank’s besieged anatomy.

Easter eggs: There are three fairly inconsequential ones to discover -two scenes from the film and a brief highlights montage - and we can safely report that none of them contain any icky monkey viruses. If you get stuck you can always cruise by our Easter egg section...

  Overall  
Contract

Summing up Osmosis Jones isn't as simple as just saying, “If you’re a Farrelly fan then...”, for it's actually their sections which let the film down. Lovers of gross humour will certainly find much to chortle over here; however the outer and inner worlds are vastly different in their direction styles and even comic tones. In the end it's the inner sections that really make this worth checking out by anybody who likes their animation with a bit of cheeky bodily-function vulgarity thrown up – erm, in.

Whilst certainly not in the league of your Shrek’s or Monsters, Inc.s – and I daresay never really ever trying to be - if you can get yourself in the right mood, it's a decent enough quality disc, with a refreshingly warped take on the hackneyed buddy-cop genre. You just may find Osmosis Jones can be quite absorbing...


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      And I quote...
    "Quite absorbing..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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