|Steve Irwin has a natural talent for comedic acting and teaching and his skills are put to the test in the big screen version of his wildly successful television series, The Crocodile Hunter. The story constructed around Steve's wild animal antics isn't too unbelievable, though the actors cast alongside him could have taken some lessons from his enthusiastic manner in front of the camera. It's hard not to smile during Steve's wildlife lessons and it's not hard to see why his show is a success with young and old viewers. If anything, Steve and his wife, Terri, are the reason to see this film. All of the stunts were performed by Irwin and his wife and none of their dialogue was staged.|
The crocodile hunting (or "saving") duo should be congratulated in being able to create a more engaging story on-the-fly than were the scripted actors accompanying them in the movie. Viewers will probably be more impatient to get back to viewing the Irwins' side of the story than in finding out how their pursuers have been faring in the Australian outback. Nevertheless, by the end of this film, viewers will certainly be laughing out loud at Irwin's antics and will have learned something valuable about wildlife along the way. If educators everywhere took to teaching the way Steve Irwin has students, both young and old, would willingly sit down to be taught.
In looking at the film for the merits of its screenplay and story, there are many criticisms that come to light, including what looks to be a lack of real effort on the part of person creating the dialogue for the story. The narrative itself is a somewhat plausible idea that would look at home in any moderate budget comedy, but the casting choices in this film probably undermined the efforts of the screenwriters. Two small-time actors were cast as a couple of inept American agents sent into the outback to retrieve the memory box from a fallen intelligence satellite. While both of these actors have moderate experience in front of the camera, neither seemed to be that convincing in his role.
It was probably a combination of some standard dialogue and their unsuitability in their roles. But in criticizing the jobs of both these actors, it isn't easy to forget that whenever Steve Irwin is on the screen, the plot of the film doesn't really matter. Viewers will find themselves rooting for the safe transport of the crocodile, more than in caring much about the peripheral actors. Though Magda Szubanski plays quite a humorous role with "Brozzie," the shotgun toting outback woman whose choices in clothing are enough to send anyone into a fit of laughter. And in point of fact, for the non-Australians out there, it might take a few sentences to become accustomed to her accent. It's quite a thick one and she speaks very fast.
The magic of this movie though is not in the performances of its supporting characters. It's the way Steve Irwin and his wife can make learning about the animals of the Australian outback a highly entertaining experience. It's very hard to criticize the director and screenwriter of this film when it's so easy to forget about the bad dialogue of the peripheral actors and focus on Irwin and his antics. And in some ways, this film is a departure from the normal Hollywood comedy, and in that regard, the film is a more interesting experience than most of the mediocre comedies usually released in the summer. And in fact, the excitement of this film even exceeds many big budget action movies. Perhaps it's the real-life factor of Steve Irwin's adventures that makes it impossible to ignore the giant spiders, crocodiles, and snakes on the screen.
There are no computer generated animals in this picture. And when Irwin comes within inches of getting bitten by a spider, decapitated by a crocodile, and strangled by a snake, the excitement of the film reaches a point which is ten times as entertaining on the big screen. It's almost as if Irwin's adventures were made for theatrical release. Instead of having a television show, Irwin should produce a series of shorts that would play before other theatrical releases. Seeing Steve Irwin and his wife tackle some outback challenge instead of the myriad commercials audiences now have to sit through would be so much more entertaining, and educational. Steve Irwin's teaching is heartwarming as it is sincere and exciting, making for a great experience in the theater.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.