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Very Excellent Mr. Dundee, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Time To Throw A Career On The Barbie"
1 stars

“The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee” is not just a bad movie—although it is indeed very bad—as much as it is a strange, sad and largely bewildering one that leaves you wondering what Paul Hogan, the man who shot to massive, if ultimately short-lived, international screen success on the basis of his 1986 smash hit comedy “Crocodile Dundee,” could have possibly when thinking when he elected to do it.

Following a prologue that seems to have been inserted to remind viewers of who exactly Hogan was in the first place, it depicts him as having long left the Hollywood rat race behind and living quietly in Los Angeles when he is hurtled back into the spotlight when his attempt to help a group of school kids who have encountered a snake on a nature walk backfires badly and earns him some negative publicity. Big deal, except it is at this time that his manager (Rachael Carpani) informs him that the Queen of England is planning to give him a knighthood and she tells him that the best thing he can do is lie low and not get into trouble before the ceremony. Inevitably, this kicks off a spate of incidents in which he stumbles into a bunch of bizarre situations that wind up earning him tons of bad publicity—he is branded as a racist for pointing out the logical fallacy of doing a new “Crocodile Dundee” film with Will Smith playing his son. (This is not the only example of racially-tinged humor on display and none of it is remotely amusing.) He attends a charity function as a favor to Olivia Newton-John and ends up nearly killing a nun in the process with an errant water bottle. His ride share with John Cleese as his driver goes south when it develops into a televised car chase. While all of this is going on, he is trying to connect with his super-genius adult son (Jacob Elordi), dealing with an earnest-but-idiotic paparazzo (Nate Torrance), pining to see his adorable moppet granddaughter in her school performance of “The Wizard of Oz” back in Oz and, for reasons I am at a loss to explain, housing Wayne Knight while he practices his singing and tap dancing for an upcoming Broadway show.

Presumably launched into production after the resounding success of a 2018 Super Bowl ad for Australian tourism that purported to be a promo for a “Dundee” reboot that featured Hogan in a brief appearance, the film essentially takes him and plunges him into the template established by “Curb Your Enthusiasm”—put him into a series of cringe-inducing situations, surround him with a bunch of celebrity pals doing cameos as themselves and let the wackiness begin. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” might have been the Platonic ideal for the film but director Dean Murphy and his co-writer, Robert Mond, barely even manage to hit the same level as “Burn Hollywood Burn,” another badly misfired attempt at self-reflexive Hollywood satire. I suppose that there is a potentially interesting idea in a film about a once-beloved screen personality trying to make a comeback and discovering that the comedic sensibility that once made him the toast fo the world simply will not fly these days. Instead, the film supplies one contrived situation after another—running the range from the merely inane to the borderline appalling—and offers nothing to say other than Hogan and his retrograde attitudes represent salt-of-the-earth values and it is everyone else that got weirdly sensitive to his brand of funning.

Things get so dire that it turns out that the only reasonably funny moments come courtesy of none other than Chevy Chase, who turns up as himself and explains to Hogan how to become a beloved celebrity like him. Sure, the joke—playing off of Chase’s own fairly toxic public reputation—is not inherently amusing but he still knows how to take a bit, such as his insistence that the key to the love the public has for him rests in the Oscar he claims to have won for “Caddyshack,” and actually lead you wanting more from him. By comparison, the rest of “The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee” is so witless and creatively dodgy that not only does it leave you with no particular urge to see Hogan on the screen again in the future, it will cause you to wonder what you ever saw in him in the first place.

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originally posted: 12/10/20 15:03:37
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USA
  11-Dec-2020 (PG-13)
  DVD: 16-Feb-2021

UK
  N/A

Australia
  11-Dec-2020
  DVD: 16-Feb-2021




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