G’day mate. Americans love the land down under. We also love “fish-out-of-water” stories. Crocodile Dundee delivers both. In 1986 and 1988 Paul Hogan delighted moviegoers with wild croc tales from the outback. He’s back 13 years later spinning out the same yarn, chapter three. Mick “Crocodile” Dundee is older now. He and Sue have a young boy, Mikey. The little family that’s bigger than life lives in Walkabout Creek, deep in the Australian bush country. But when Sue’s newspaper mogul father calls asking her to help out in his Los Angeles office, Mick and the fam pack their bags and head to the Golden State.
It wouldn’t be a Crocodile movie if it didn’t feature a backwoods Mick slamming headfirst into 20th century American culture (“it’s the 21st century now,” smirks Mick’s cell-phone wielding aboriginal friend). Thankfully, though, Crocodile 3 isn’t obsessed with repeating everything already covered in versions one and two. Sue is quickly embroiled in another newspaper investigation, this time of a shady movie studio. Mick and Mikey explore the city—in a Subaru Outback of course. The plot thickens when Mick takes a job as an extra in said shady studio’s new movie. So what kind of crime ring does Dundee have to crack this time? “Drugs and guns,” he declares knowingly. But then Mick’s awfully fond of saying that everything he knows about America he learned from TV. He’ll need more than NYPD Blue reruns to come out on top this time.
positive elements: Mick has developed a strong bond with his son. He walks him home from school. Talks with him. Teaches him about life. Being an outdoorsman and a hunter, he trains Mikey to hunt and kill animals. But he drills into him the idea that it’s shameful to kill for fun. Mikey tells his classmates, “My dad says, ‘Never kill anything unless you’re going to eat it.'”
Mick and Sue failed to do the paperwork when they settled down to create a family. “We’re married sort of,” Mick says. “We just haven’t done the legal stuff yet.” At first, I chalked that slipup into the negative column. Then it became apparent the message here was anti-cohabitation, not pro. Mikey is bewildered by his parent’s relationship. He’s confused about his last name. And it slowly dawns on his dad that he’s made the wrong choice by not making an honest woman of his “wife.” He should have married Sue a long time ago. That’s the feeling moviegoers get. And in the end, he slips into a suit and says his vows.
spiritual content: A cameo by boxer Mike Tyson leads to Mick and Mikey meditating in the park. Tyson has them sit cross-legged in what he calls “the Buddha position.” He instructs them to breathe in the positivity and breathe out the negativity.
sexual content: Women flaunt their cleavage at a Hollywood party and skimpy bathing suits comprise part of the backdrop at a Los Angeles beach. A woman at the beach flirts with Mick and, after determining that he’s not interested, concludes he must be a homosexual. When she asks him is he’s gay, Mick, clueless about the word’s modern meaning, says, “Yeah, I’m usually quite happy.” As the woman roller blades away, Mikey tells his dad she has a “nice a–.” Mick agrees, but then blames Mikey’s television watching for prompting such a comment. Mikey’s school teacher ogles Mick’s rear end and sighs, “Nice butt.” Mick and a friend go into a “Texas Cowboy” bar which turns out to be a gay bar. They quickly rush out when they realize there’s nothing cowboy about it.
violent content: National Geographic scenery gives way to a When Animals Attack when Mick’s boat is devoured by a huge crocodile. Mick breaks a would-be thief’s hand when the man reaches into a woman’s purse. Mick takes on the bad guys using fists and tricks and trashcans. A two-by-four dispatches one villain. A slamming door takes care of another. A falling ladder incapacitates yet another. Two more meet their fate when a speeding tram hits a brick wall. Mick throws his huge knife at a man, pinning him to a wall (the knife lodges just below his crotch). He is chased and shot at several times. Sue is held hostage at gunpoint. Mick’s friend punches the ringleader in the face, knocking him out.
crude or profane language: A handful of s-words and a few “television-style” profanities. The Lord’s name is taken in vain two or three times.
drug and alcohol content: Mick’s a beer man. That’s all they serve in Walkabout Creek. Seltzer and Club Soda are mocked as weenie drinks. Staring at one of Picasso’s abstract paintings, Mick remarks that while he’s a drinking man, he’s never been so plastered that he would paint such a thing. Minor characters smoke, but Mick actually plucks a cigar away from a woman at a party and throws it away. A man at a Hollywood bar talks of using coffee enemas as a cure-all for hard drinking.
conclusion: Hogan and crew slather the film with sly winks and chuckles about American pop culture. Paramount Pictures plugs itself by setting much of the film on the Paramount lot and theme park. Yet, when Dundee stabs a moving replica of an Anaconda on one of the rides, another tourist on the tram quips, “I should have gone to Universal.” And that’s largely what makes Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles so enjoyable. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and it takes its time going where its going.
“For probably the last three years I’ve been saying that if I woke up with a really good idea, I might do a film,” Hogan chuckles. “I lived in L.A. for a couple years and realized what a strange, unreal sort of place it was. Eventually the penny dropped that this is the place to bring Dundee. He’s so grounded, he’s a perfect contrast to it. This time Mick thinks he’s a bit more cosmopolitan because he’s spent a month in New York, but of course he’s really still exactly the same. The whole world changes. It gets more sophisticated and faster, and that’s the attraction to me. The more the world speeds up, the more Mick Dundee slows down.”
That may be Crocodile Dundee’s real mission in life; encouraging us all to stop and smell the roses, listen to the burbling of a creek and feel the breeze tickle our cheeks. But Crocodile 3 is still a product of Hollywood. It has foul language and violence. So watch out for the crocs if you dabble your toes in the water.