Osmosis Jones

on August 10, 2001 by Paul Clinton
   With "Osmosis Jones," the Farrelly Brothers have reached their purest form of expression--an animated movie that takes us through the backstage door of their Comedy of Bodily Functions. It can be a scary place.

   With its lovingly rendered green mucous flows and bubbling bile, the movie is another example of just how little interest the Farrellys have in what motivates people. "Osmosis Jones" is inspiration for a shower.

   The movie, a hybrid of animation and live action, is set in two worlds--the dreary, real-world life of Frank (Bill Murray), a junk food addicted slob, and the inner, animated world of Frank's body.

   When Frank gobbles down a hard-boiled egg he has just grabbed out of the mouth of a monkey at the zoo, the immunity police, led by white blood cell Osmosis Jones (a street-wise Chris Rock), go into red-alert mode.

   Riding that toxic egg is Thrax (Laurence Fishburne, in a silky villainous mode), a nasty virus intent on bringing the City of Frank, as the animated community is called, to an end. Jones, who says he is from "the wrong side of the digestive tract," teams up with a timed-release cold tablet (David Hyde Pierce) to stop Thrax.

   The movie is fun to look at--the animators use sensuous, rounded shapes and deep colors. But the constant reminder of what's being drawn is always front and center. And it begs the question: What's the point of jazzing up rote high-school science material? As far as the Farrellys are concerned, the answer seems to lie in their need to offer a lecture about staying healthy and eating right.

   While the animated sequences are the most involving, the real-world scenes thud on the screen. A disheveled Murray sleepwalks through his slovenly role as a prop, a setup for the animated stuff. Molly Shannon wanders in, shrieking on cue, to play the stooge victim of Murray's body-fluid outbursts. William Shatner, Ron Howard, rapper Kid Rock, teen pop queen Brandy and producer Joel Silver also add their voices. Starring Bill Murray and voiced by Chris Rock, Laurence Fishburne and David Hyde Pierce. Directed by Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly. Written by Marc Hyman. Produced by Dennis Edwards, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Zak Penn and Bradley Thomas. A Warner Bros. release. Animated/Comedy. Rated PG for bodily humor. Running time: 95 minutes

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