Movies should be judged on their own merits. Just because something doesn’t measure up to the book or it stars guy who might have thought the Holocaust was the fault of someone called Sugar Tits shouldn’t impact the film as a discrete piece of art or entertainment. Similarly, just because we might have warm fuzzy feelings for someone involved, should not prevent us from ruthlessly mocking a failed bid at movie stardom. This brings me to The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course.
More Accurate Tagline: Crappy!
Guilty Party: Steve Irwin’s show The Crocodile Hunter was weirdly popular in the early aughts. Something about watching a crazed Aussie scampering around the outback accosting highly dangerous animals really appealed to the zeitgeist. I like to think it was a reaction to the War on Terror. If only we could persuade Al-Qaeda (through relentless and invasive handling) that we meant no harm, eventually things would sort of work themselves out. Opinions of Irwin are split. Some believe his conservation work marks him as the highest sort of environmentalist, while others regard his fetish for playing with poisonous fauna off-putting. When Steve Irwin died in 2006, Norm MacDonald had the best take on it: “He lived to 44 years old. That’s a ripe old age for a crocodile hunter.” I’m blaming Irwin for this movie, or more specifically his crazy level of popularity, but the insults are not at the man himself. Just the completely barking fucking mad movie version.
Synopsis: An American spy satellite falls from space and lands in Australia, where the all-important black box gets eaten by a crocodile. The CIA panics, since it contains a ton of very important information that, in the wrong hands, could alter the balance of power in the world. Since it’s never said what kind of information, I’m left to assume it’s the location of America’s strategic blowjob reserve. Anyway, they dispatch two agents, Wheeler and Archer, to get it back. Sadly, it isn’t Sterling Archer, because this movie sucks. They also send a third agent, Buckley (Kate Beahan, before she dieted herself into a Fiona Apple clone) to get it before the other two for some reason.
Meanwhile the crocodile who swallowed the beacon is also eating a rancher’s (Magda Szubanski, who you remember from the vastly superior Babe movies) cattle. She goes after the croc with a shotgun because she’s never seen that episode of Mythbusters. A guy from the Department of Fauna and Fisheries (Faramir) tells her to cut that shit out and calls in an expert to relocate the reptile.
That expert is local maniac Steve Irwin (Steve Irwin) and his wife Terri Irwin (Terri Irwin). Steve plans to leap onto the croc, grind on it a little, stick it in a box, and take it to another river, which coincidentally is how I proposed to my wife. On the way, Steve accosts the local wildlife, fondles it a little, and throws it in his truck.
Once he has dry-humped the croc into submission and loaded it into what can only be described as a “sex coffin,” Steve drives the animal to another river and releases it, presumably whispering, “You know what’ll happen if you tell anyone.” The CIA immediately shows up, and Irwin assumes they’re poachers. He then gleefully endangers their lives while buying time for the croc to escape.
Life-Changing Subtext: Animals can’t show where on the doll you touched them.
Defining Quote: Steve: “Croc poo!” This line is delivered with such joy, it’s disconcerting. Steve then sifts through it, just, you know, because.
Standout Performance: This is where the movie achieves greatness. Throughout, Steve and Terri do their usual Crocodile Hunter thing of speaking directly to the camera about whatever hapless animal Steve is presently tormenting. The thing of it is, no camera crew is ever established and no other character reacts to a camera as though it is present. This leaves me to assume that Steve and Terri are two deeply disturbed individuals in the midst of a psychotic break.
What’s Wrong: John Stainton, the longtime director of The Crocodile Hunter wrote this film from the panicked cries of animal attack victims. Because the Irwins are not actors, Stainton never told them the plot, instead just giving Steve a vague idea of what was going on in any given scene and letting him ad-lib. Terri gets a few scripted lines and, hoo boy, it’s tough to disagree with Stainton’s approach. What’s Wrong is fundamentally the movie’s existence. The Crocodile Hunter really had no place in a scripted film. You’d be better off using the film’s budget to fly Irwin around the world to wrestle unfamiliar fauna.
Flash of Competence: The croc wrestling scenes are genuinely thrilling, made better by the fact that it’s real.
Best Scenes: I was completely baffled from the word go. Irwin is introduced lunging at a poor monitor lizard who pretty much wants to be left alone. This establishes a running theme in which Steve slams on the brakes of his vehicle, hurls himself onto the ground, and then molests a poor animal into humiliated submission. In the first scene, the lizard gets away, forcing Steve to content himself on playing with the animal’s poop.
Transcendent Moment: At this point, both my readers are probably thinking I’m reading too much into this movie. Irwin’s not a molester! He’s a wildlife enthusiast whose appreciation is a tad more tactile than maybe is normal. That’s until you get to the language he uses to describe the animals. I don’t care who you are, but “beautiful sheila” is no way to describe a fucking spider. Unless, of course, you want to fuck it.
I’m not saying Steve Irwin was a threat to national security. But in the reality of the film, he attempted to murder three CIA agents who were attempting to recover data that could be invaluable to enemies of the United States. Some of it is their own fault. Once they knew he was involved, they should have found the sexiest reptile they could find, flown that big beautiful sheila in, and let Irwin grind on it a little. Then he would have given the black box back, no problem.
Do I have to think of everything?