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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course (2002)



Reviews and Comments

Either you love Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, or you don't. If you like him, you'll like this movie, and if you don't, you won't.

Although I'm not a regular viewer of his television show, I like him. Say what you will about him, there is one thing even his detractors must admit: he's the real deal. When Irwin is affectionately handling poisonous snakes and lizards and spiders and ooohing and ahhhing over their venomous teeth or claws or fangs and expounding excitedly upon how many times over he could be killed by them, his enthusiasm is absolutely genuine. If his television show, this movie, and his fame did not exist, he'd still be out there wrestling crocodiles and saving the ecosystem and loving every minute of it. And so he has been, all his life since he was a kid under the tutelage of his father, a block off the old chip. I find his enthusiasm refreshing. Maybe it's because real enthusiasm for life is hard to come by. Maybe it's because, let's face it, Irwin is a nutjob -- but a likeable nutjob, one with a real respect for nature and, despite appearances, a knowledgeable understanding of how to handle animals.

Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course is an unlikely movie spin-off from his documentary show. It crosses his wrangling of dangerous animals and excited narration with a government intrigue plot. It seems a crocodile in Australia has swallowed something important that fell off a satellite. I'm not sure about the details, and they don't matter.

The unbroken rule of this movie is: when Steve Irwin is on the screen, it's fun, and when he's not, it's not. Initially, the spy plot is interleaved with Irwin's adventures, and there's also something about a crazy local intent on shooting the crocodile that keeps bothering her cows. The "plot" parts, intended to be goofy spoof material but ultimately just tedious, are worth weathering, but I knew that my ultimate verdict on the movie would hinge on how Irwin and the spies would inevitably collide. They way they do so is just about perfect: in the middle of a fist fight on the roof of a moving vehicle, Irwin turns to the camera and narrates these dangerous developments just as he has been all along. He never breaks character for gratuitous action. The various means he uses to dispatch his pursuers are perfectly in keeping with the resources he customarily employs for less outrageous situations.

Through it all, Steve Irwin's uninhibited love for nature and danger are simply delightful. By no stretch of the imagination could I call this good filmmaking, but it's certainly good entertainment, and sometimes that's all that counts.