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‘Crocodile Dundee’

By Paul Attanasio
Washington Post Staff Writer
October 04, 1986


Peter Faiman
Paul Hogan;
Linda Kozlowski;
John Meillon;
Mark Blum;
David Gulpilil;
Michael Lombard
Children under 13 should be accompanied by a parent

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Now that we have " 'Crocodile' Dundee," a star vehicle for Paul Hogan, the Australian who became best known as a pitchman for Foster's Lager, there can be little doubt that "Miller Lite: The Motion Picture" is not far behind, with John Madden playing both the president of the United States and his distorted brother Earl, who will go to all sorts of hilarious lengths to . . .

Well, back to " 'Crocodile' Dundee." Hogan plays Mick Dundee, a safari guide and sometime poacher who earned the moniker "Crocodile" by defeating one of the buggers hand to hand in the vasty deep. An American reporter who happens to be the publisher's daughter, Sue Charlton (Linda Kozlowski), hears of the legendary "Crocodile" and decides to write a "story" about him.

What she discovers is that Dundee is a cross between Indiana Jones and Doctor Dolittle -- as they cross the outback together, he swashbuckles to her rescue with carbine and buck knife, but he can also lull a rampant buffalo with a gentle look.

At the end of their journey, she gets the bright idea to take him back to New York, where he inspires fits of jealousy in Richard (Mark Blum), Sue's editor and would-be swain, and otherwise delights the local populace with his naive good nature and primitive ways.

" 'Crocodile' Dundee," in other words, has a double "fish out of water" structure -- first she's the fish, then he's the fish -- but the movie doesn't go anywhere with it, mostly because the characters are such nullities. The filmmakers themselves must have been a little terrified by the violent derring-do they call on Hogan to perform, because they've taken all the danger (and all the sex) out of his personality -- what's left is harmless gallantry and innocuous little-boy smiles.

The writers (who include Hogan himself) haven't given Kozlowski anything better to do. She's mostly limited to wearing skimpy dresses and tossing Hogan-ward looks of "What a guy|" adoration, and she's not much of a reporter -- whenever "Crocodile" does anything interesting, she's either not there, not taking it down or not photographing it. Such practical considerations don't mean much, of course, to a movie in which the hero can pick up a can of peaches and bean a mugger two blocks away.

There's no drama in " 'Crocodile' Dundee" because there's no real conflict between these characters. The reporter doesn't represent big city cynicism or the misguided values of the rich -- she's just as vaguely big-hearted as ol' Captain Kangaroo. For that matter, there's no real adventure, either. Director Peter Faiman is a crony from Hogan's Australian television show, and that's where he should have stayed -- the movie is almost criminally slow.

Cinematographer Russell Boyd has larded the movie with sunsets and vistas, the kind of postcard pictorialism that will attract the same marks Hogan gulled with his Australian tourism ads. Generally, the movie offers travelogue in the place of drama -- we learn that a "sheila" is a woman, for example, and that "tucker" is food.

The result, as they say, is one for the "dunny can."

"Crocodile" Dundee" is rated PG-13 and contains some violence, profanity and sexual themes.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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