Crocodile Dundee is the epitome of a “star vehicle.” Written by star Paul Hogan, it is clearly a showcase for his talents as an actor and a comedian. There isn’t necessarily much to the movie but Paul Hogan as Mick “Crocodile” Dundee keeps the interest at all times and gives the movie it’s iconic charm.
If you had to boil down the plot it is essentially a “fish-out-of-water” romantic comedy. On first glance you could be mistaken for thinking Dundee was an action hero, chest out, large knife and dead crocodile in tow, he seems to fit into the macho-man 80s action star which filled the decade.
Dundee is actually more fleshed-out as a character than you’d first expect. He isn’t necessarily a “hero” at all and from the very beginning the stories about him are completely exaggerated (and probably fabricated). He could well be a criminal and certainly gets by on charm and trickery as well as pure outback, bushman skill. The first half of the movie, set in the outback, sees Hogan’s character make a fool of himself, show out-dated sexism, save the female lead from a crocodile attack and make a weird detour via an aborigine tribe. It very effectively creates the character which will keep the movie interesting.
The movie is really about what happens when you take a wild-bushman and place him in the urban jungle which is New York. He is forced to fend for himself, use his Australian charm and Aussie skills and adapt to life in America. This is where the movie comes to life and Hogan’s character comes into his own. It plays well as a series of sketches, from Dundee discovering the delights of New York nightlife to the now iconic scene involving two very different sized knives.
This works because Hogan is very funny and charming. Strip the movie down and it is nothing more than a slow-build to an inevitable love story. We get all the romantic comedy cliches, from the obnoxious fiance as an initial obstacle, cross-wires and a mad-dash to proclaim love at the end. It is all done very well but it is hardly anything new.
The movie almost needs a secondary story, something else that Crocodile Dundee could do and get involved in because as funny as his constant misunderstandings about American culture are, it is just watching a man go from one random situation to another.
Overall, Crocodile Dundee survives purely on the comedy and charm of Paul Hogan. He creates a character with a enough depth to keep you interested and then enough skill to make the second half, fish-out-of-water plot work as well. Unfortunately, it feels slightly too shallow and the romantic plot just isn’t quite original enough to effectively differentiate the movie from many other romantic comedies.
Rating – 3.5
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