The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course

The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course

One of the many reasons Death To Smoochy was so boorish and unfunny was that its ostensible satirical target—children's television—already lapses into surreal self-parody on a regular basis. (Teletubbies, anyone? Sid & Marty Krofft?) A typically bizarre endeavor aimed at the warped minds of children, TV's Crocodile Hunter features a host (Steve Irwin) who, in the tradition of great daredevils like Harold Lloyd and Jackie Chan, happily and obliviously places himself in mortal danger for other people's amusement. This shtick has won Irwin an international following, as well as his own cheerfully bizarre film vehicle, Collision Course. Simultaneously a bland, predictable kids' movie and an almost avant-garde exercise in stylistic experimentation, Collision Course is two films in one. One is an extended, glorified episode of Crocodile Hunter, in which Irwin—ostensibly playing himself alongside real-life wife Terri—fondles poisonous snakes, crocodiles, and other dangerous varmints while delivering a non-stop, eco-friendly rant directly to the camera. The other movie, which seems to have little to do with Irwin's natterings, is an almost comically generic spy yarn involving a satellite, a pair of CIA agents, a foxy Australian lady spy, and a plump, crocodile-hating farmer. The two strands don't intersect until well into the film, and while the Discovery Channel's name is dropped several times, at no point is it actually established that Irwin is a television star talking to a cameraman and not, say, a raving lunatic talking to himself. Other than Irwin's wife, no other character talks to the camera: They all seem oblivious to it, which makes for some disorienting, not terribly compelling viewing. The definition of an acquired taste, Irwin brims with a frenzied enthusiasm generally associated with hyperactive children and amphetamine-addled adults. He never seems to play anybody but himself throughout Collision Course, but that doesn't make his performance any less crazed, even if it's not quite enough to hang a film upon. The pleasure to be derived from watching a loopy Australian risk life and limb is not to be dismissed or underrated, but Collision Course proves that that guilty pleasure, no matter how potent, just isn't a solid basis for a film.

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