Osmosis Jones

Osmosis Jones (2001)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Bill Murray, Chris Rock, David Hyde Pierce
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailer

"Osmosis Jones" is quite a surprise, emerging as a funny and clever comedy for adults and kids alike. Bill Murray stars as zookeeper Frank, the man who will eat anything. After eating an egg, which had been in the mouth of a monkey, the film moves inside Frank’s body (and thus becomes animated) where we witness the damage done by this action. Osmosis Jones (voiced by Chris Rock) is a white-blood cell who is patrolling the mouth when the egg comes in and attempts to apprehend that germs which have entered Frank. As he begins to feel ill, Frank takes a cold-pill, which emerges in his body as Drix (voiced by David Hyde Pierce), a germ-busting drug with a big arsenal and a prissy attitude. However, Osmosis and Drix don’t realize that Frank has more than a cold. The deadly Thrax (voiced by Laurence Fishburne) has ridden in on the egg as well, and he intends to kill Frank.

This film takes a rather simple, yet very clever premise and exploits it to its fullest. "Osmosis Jones" is basically every action/buddy-cop movie ever made, but it’s been animated and takes place inside of a human body. That’s just part of the fun of this ingenious film. The world inside of Frank is a bustling city, and there are hilarious signs and billboards throughout. (You may have to watch the film twice to see them all.) Aside from the main plot, there is a sub-plot involving the Mayor of Frank (voiced by William Shatner) attempting to cover-up the fact that Frank is sick (ala the Murray Hamilton character in "Jaws".) Along with the film references, "Osmosis Jones" is full of jokes that deal with the human body and bodily functions. And despite the fact that this is a Farrelly Brothers film, these jokes never go beyond the average snot/farts/urine material.

Another thing that makes "Osmosis Jones" both unique and entertaining is the balance struck by the material with takes place in the real world and that which happens inside Frank. The scenes in the real world give us Bill Murray cutting loose and having a ball. ("Leg…leg!") And when he is joined on-screen by Chris Elliot (who is inexplicably topless in one scene), things get even funnier. These scenes alone are worth the price of admission. But, we get to see how Frank’s actions then effect his internal system, and these cuts take place very smoothly. And in Frank’s body we get the voice talents of Rock, Hyde Pierce, Fishburne, and Shatner (who doesn’t even sound like Shatner!) bringing their characters to life. Add this to the colorful and engaging animation and you’ve got the makings of a very fun movie.

"Osmosis Jones" squirms onto DVD from Warner Home Video. The film has been <$PS,letterboxed> at 2.35:1 and is <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> TVs. The image is crystal clear and very sharp. During the live action scenes, the image is extremely clean, showing only a fine grain at times and zero artifacting. The animated segments are picture perfect and extremely colorful. Being inside a human body, the color palette is very wide, and the reds, greens, and blues are look great, with no bleeding or oversaturation. This transfer shows no overt problems from edge enhancement or compression effects.

This DVD offers a bold <$DD,Dolby Digital> <$5.1,5.1 channel> audio mix which is very nice. The soundfield is very wide and the action coming from the rear speakers is nearly constant during the scenes inside Frank. Here we have the clear dialogue mixed with the music and the various sound-effects of Frank’s body in a track which is harmonious without sounding crowded. The bass response is also impressive and there is no hissing on the track.

The extras on this DVD are kicked off by an <$commentary,audio commentary> featuring producer Zak Penn, animation directors Piet Koon & Tom Sito, and screenwriter Marc Hyman. This is one of those annoying commentaries where the speakers don’t understand the concept. They think that they shouldn’t be talking because we’re trying to watch the movie. Therefore, there are many long silences on this <$commentary,commentary track>. When they do speak, there are some nice anecdotes and interesting insights into the film. It’s a shame that the Farrelly’s were working on "Shallow Hal", as I would have liked to have heard their take on the film.

This is followed up by two featurettes. First, we have "Under the Microscope — HBO First Look Special". This 14 minute segment is hosted by Brandy Norwood (whose voice can be heard in the film) and offers behind-the-scenes footage and interviews. With the behind-the-scenes segments, we get a look at how the animation was done and the way it was matched to the speaker’s personality. These themes are reinforced in the other featurette, called "Investigating the Vocal Cords". Here, we have interviews with the principal voice cast as they explain their techniques and motivations.

Rounding out the extras are the theatrical trailer for "Osmosis Jones", which has been <$PS,letterboxed> at 2.35:1 (and does a terrible job of selling the film), and 6 minutes worth of extended scenes, which features some unfinished animation. As an odd bonus, there is a menu on the DVD called "Frank’s Gross Anatomy", which will take the viewer to certain scenes in which Murray is experiencing vile bodily functions.

If you saw the ads for "Osmosis Jones" and thought that it looked silly and juvenile, give it a chance. The film is truly funny and actually teaches a great lesson about nutrition as well. Bill Murray is great in the film and the animated segments are priceless. This DVD features a pristine transfer of the film and some fun extras as well. If you’ve been looking for a fun, easygoing comedy, then I prescribe "Osmosis Jones".