Media FX Review of Osmosis Jones
by Joe Tracy, publisher of Digital Media FX Magazine
Jones is the most underrated animated movie of 2001, due in
part to Warner Bros. inability to properly define the intended
audience for the movie. It's a shame too, because the animation
segments of Osmosis Jones are creative, original, interesting,
and well executed. It's the live action portions, marketing, and
movie trailers that fail Osmosis Jones, resulting in a
disastrous box office run.
Tom Maurstad of the Dallas Morning News put it best when he said,
"This live-action/cartoon structure is intended to give Osmosis
Jones an edgy kick. But instead it proves to be a boat anchor
around the comedy's neck. That's because every time the film cuts
back to the real world the fun just stops reality as a
bucket of cold water."
Osmosis Jones is the story of "the city of Frank"
which is the inside of Frank's body. The movie toggles between
live action (outside of Frank's body) and animation (inside of
Frank's body). The "city of Frank" has its own government
(and political feuds), police department, entertainment venues,
etc. It literally is a city where good cells (i.e. cops) must
fight viruses and the mayor must try to keep harmony while dealing
with reelection headaches. One cop, named Osmosis Jones, is an
independent thinker trying to make something of his life. While
the story focuses on his adventure, it goes far beyond with the
cast of supporting characters and sub plots.
The creativity in the animated segments of Osmosis Jones
is top notch. Warner Bros. even allowed its logo to be tampered
with to tie in closer with movie. The humorous puns also work
well in Osmosis Jones. Take, for example, this exchange
between two of the cops inside of Frank's body:
You got plans for the weekend, kid?
Cop: Me and my girlfriend are going down to the Kidney's to
see the Stones.
Good for you. They could pass any day now.
segments, which were directed by Piet Kroon and Tom Sito, are
presented in an almost dreamlike organic form that really establishes
the "city of Frank" as a unique environment. The animation
is colorful, free flowing, and fun. You're only pulled out of
the story when the movie pops back to the gross, boring, and uninspiring
live action segments.
isn't limited just to the way the animation is presented. The
art direction is also superb and executed with a style that enhances
the overall look of the movie.
for Osmosis Jones (for the animated portions) is just as
creative as the animation. The music has a unique "light
but fun" flare that really enhanced the animated portions
while effectively bringing the City of Frank to life.
The story, while interesting, doesn't take full advantage
of the unique environment created for the film. You've seen the
overall story concept in buddy cop movies (like Lethal Weapon
or Rush Hour) and political presidential movies (like The
American President). But even at average, the story in the
animated segments is of "Oscar quality" when compared
directly to the dull live action parts.
The live action segments of Osmosis Jones literally kill
the movie. Warner Bros. didn't help by focusing a good portion
of its trailers on the gross live action parts while hyping that
it was directed by "the Farrelly Brothers." Did they
expect such promotions to drive family audiences to see the movie?
Obviously not as Warner Bros. also tasseled over the movie's rating,
first allowing it to maintain a PG-13 rating then deciding that
it should be edited down to a PG rating. The marketing and the
movie never could effectively decide who the audience was and
as a result it didn't find an audience.
problem is that the live action characters are uninspiring and
as a result you don't care for them. The best movies make you
truly care about the characters in the film. For the live action
parts, you can care less about what happens to Frank because he
has been established as an uneducated slob that only cares about
If you have not yet seen Osmosis Jones, I recommend that
you rent the movie on video or DVD. Unfortunately there isn't
a "play animated segments only" option on the DVD, so
you'll have to endure the dull live action moments while waiting
for the creative animation segments to once again pull you into
the movie and story. But in this case waiting for the animation
segments is worth it. In a year where Shrek and Monsters, Inc.
dominated the news for their animation and creativity, Osmosis
Jones got lost. It's a shame because the creativity level of Osmosis
Jones is just as good, albeit different, as Monsters, Inc.
and the animated storyline is interesting.
A lot of movies
these day are uninspired and unoriginal. Hollywood seems to be
stuck in a rut of making sequels or remakes. It's rare that something
truly original and creative comes along. Osmosis Jones
fills the role of being dull and uninspiring (live action segments)
while being truly original, creative, and fun (the animated segments).
The writing for the animated segments is very smart and intelligent.
FX Magazine gives Osmosis Jones a 7.5 rating on a scale
of 1 to 10. The film would have received a higher rating if it
wasn't for the live action continually dragging it down.
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