The Hunt For The Worst Movie Of All Time: Kangaroo Jack

By Gabe Delahaye / January 5, 2009

As a rule, a children’s movie cannot be the Worst Movie of All Time. Make no mistake, children’s movies are categorically horrible, with very few exceptions, and those exceptions tend to be children’s movies that are mostly for adults, i.e. the only good children’s movies are actually adults’ movies. But even the worst children’s movie has an intended audience of uneducated monsters (children), so you can’t really get mad at it. As someone who once declared the live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie to be “probably the best movie I’ve ever seen. It was incredible,” I feel confident in saying that children’s movies serve their own unique function outside the bounds of mature (mature?) criticism.

So there was some debate about whether or not Kangaroo Jack even belonged in the Hunt. Obviously, it was terrible. That was not up for debate. If absolutely no one on Earth saw this movie (and that is not the case at all, so many people saw this, what?), it would still be generally thought of as horrible. But is it a children’s movie? Because if it is, let’s move on and leave sleeping kangaroos lie (sorry). But Kangaroo Jack is not a children’s movie exactly. For one, it doesn’t have any children in it. As a general pre-requisite a children’s movie has at least one child in it, as a stand in for the young viewer. Or, if not a child, then a CGI creature with childlike qualities. Could that be the titular Kangaroo Jack? Almost, except that he’s not at all childlike, or even remotely funny or interesting or any kind of narrative subject for the theoretical child-viewer’s gaze. He mostly behaves like an actual kangaroo (with the exception of one miserable dream sequence), and he’s CGI because it’s impossible to get a kangaroo to do what you want on a movie. So, the final conclusion is that this is a family movie (wikipedia describes it as a “buddy-action movie” which seems stupidly generous) and is thereby a valid entry in the Hunt. PHEW.

Kangaroo Jack stars Jerry O’Connell as Charlie Carbone, a hairdresser whose stepfather is a notorious mob boss, Salvatore Maggio, and whose best friend is a total klutz. Charlie and his best friend, Anthony Anderson, end up drawing the police to one of Salvatore’s illegal crime mafia warehouses (long story), so to make it up to him, they agree to transport an envelope (which turns out to have $50,000 in it) for him to a Mr. Smith in Australia. On the way to meet Mr. Smith, they accidentally hit a kangaroo, and do what any sensible pair of friends stuck in the middle of a desert in the midst of perpetrating what is obviously a serious crime (a favor for a mob boss involving large sums of cash across international lines) would do: they dress the dead kangaroo up in their clothes and take pictures with it. Except the kangaroo is not dead, and it kicks Jerry O’Connell in the face (good job), and runs away. Except that it’s still wearing Anthony Anderson’s “lucky coat” which has the envelope full of money in it, and the rest of the movie, duh, is them trying to get the envelope back, only to discover that the $50,000 was actually a payment to Mr. Smith from Salvatore to kill Jerry O’Connell (his stepson remember) and Anthony Anderson, so eventually all the bad guys go to jail and also Jerry O’Connell falls in love with a wildlife preservationist.

Not to get too deep back into the children’s vs. family movie debate, but this movie is so stupid that it’s definitely tempting to pass it off as “for kids.” It even has the requisite makeshift WATERSLIDE scene that is the hallmark of the child’s adventure.

Not to mention what passes for comedy around here:

But what’s sad is that based on the plot alone, this obviously is not for children. You could probably get away with taking your children to see it, but we’re dealing with mob bosses and hired assassins. Even with its ham-handed slapstick comedy and non-lethal cartoon violence, I think the line for where a children’s movie ends and an adult’s movie begins is drawn at the explanation of “well, you see, honey, the silly man is working as a cash mule for his mafia don stepfather, who has actually tricked him into transporting the payment for his own assassination. It’s the kind of sadistically ironic ploy we associate with people who’ve made a career for themselves through a carefully organized and ruthlessly managed crime syndicate.”

NOT that everything isn’t created with a child-like brain in mind. Even the “adult” content is impossibly retarded.

So, if it’s not for children, then what does that say about us as adults?

Kangaroo Jack was the number one movie in the country when it came out, which is something too baffling and upsetting to really spend any time thinking about. It’s like they say, a lot of good Germans were Nazis, too. Or something. You never know what you’ll do when pushed. Etc. Watching it now, it seems clear that Jerry Bruckheimer had never been to Australia and just wanted a reason to go, and if the piece of shit that made his vacation tax deductible happened to break even, all the better.

The real nightmare in Kangaroo Jack though is not the CGI kangaroo or the fart jokes or the keystone chase through the Outback or the emotionally vacuous love affair or the fact that the only reason anyone even got into this mess in the first place is because Anthony Anderson is actually a CRIMINAL involved in CRIMINAL ACTIVITY (the initial botched caper involved unloading a truck full of stolen televisions) and yet he is depicted throughout as the bumbling fun-loving friend and no one ever spends any time dealing in any serious way with his criminal past and if anything the movie is a confirmation of him as a good guy. No, the real nightmare in Kangaroo Jack is Jerry “Small Wonder” O’Connell.

He is absolutely the worst ever. He’s like a fake-tanned “acting” robot who’s switch has been turned to “on/annoying” and then snapped off. Except that he can’t act (his being annoying range is impressive, though). And you start to get the sense while watching this movie that this is just actually the way that he is, all the time. A cipher. A monster. Good luck, babies. Daddy is a nightmare.

Next week: Havoc. As always, please leave your suggestions in the comments or in an email. And if you haven’t done so already, please consult the Official Rules.