Sat. Oct 24th, 2020

Retro Review: ‘Osmosis Jones’ (2001)

What is it about American audiences that they refuse to see any animated film that doesn’t the Disney stamp on it? Shrek aside, there have many high-calibur films released by other studios like Titan AE from 20th Century Fox in 2000 and especially the wonderful The Iron Giant from Warner Bros in 1999. Now comes another animated film that no one saw but is one of the smartest, funniest and most eye-popping films of the year.

Osmosis Jones is part live-action, part cartoon. Frank (Bill Murray) is a hygienically-challenged guy (what else would you expect from the Farrelly Brothers) whose daughter Shane (equal parts Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd) tries to get him to exercise and eat better. On the side is the City of Frank, run by Mayor Phlegmming (William Shatner). He has plans for building housing for the homeless by beginning work on a third chin. Hairs cells laid off on the scalp now have new jobs on the back. Dreams are the movie theaters of the city. The armpit is the sauna for mob deals, the stomach is Grand Central Station and the liver is polluted with deadbeats and alcoholics. It’s also a place where a sneeze becomes a catastrophic weather event.

When a renegade virus named Thrax (yes, like anthrax), voiced by Laurence Fishburne, invades the city, all cell breaks loose. Enter white blood cell Osmosis Jones (Chris Rock). Jones was suspended for unnecessary force by pushing the puke button after Frank eats some bad oysters, causing him to purge all over his daughter’s teacher (Molly Shannon). Back on the force, he begins investigating a common cold with the help of Drix (David Hyde Pierce, sounding like Kevin Kline), an over-the-counter cold tablet with a mission.

Yes, the movie is full of gross bodily fluids, both animated and not (including the biggest zit ever), but it’s also an incredibly informative crash course in anatomy. Puns and funny street signs whiz by faster than I could count, even after repeat viewings. With plenty of hysterical humor and amazingly colorful and stylized animation, there is more than enough here for adults and kids alike.

Movie Matches: Innerspace, Cool World, Fantastic Voyage

How to watch: YouTube and Starz

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