`Dundee in L.A.' shows this Aussie is no survivor

Movie review

April 20, 2001|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

The third time doesn't prove a charm for "Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles," in which Paul Hogan's Aussie fish-out-of-water character keeps on mining the comedic vein he's tapped twice before, with decidedly mixed results.

It's pretty much the same old Croc this time around, as Dundee - more than a decade removed from his memorable initial foray to these shores - returns for another dose of American-style reality. He's still bewildered by such modern contraptions as clap-lights and remote controls, he's still seen as a virile stud by every woman who lays eyes on him, he's still a paragon of virtue (even if he's not above telling a tall tale or two), and he's still got the unbendingly cheery disposition and ability to get out of every scrape thanks to his guileless dumb luck.

And if this stuff is what you go to movies to see, then by all means go. Just don't expect anything you haven't seen before - and seen done better.

Chapter 3 of the Crocodile Dundee saga finds America's favorite Aussie becoming an anomaly even in his homeland. Since crocs are now a protected species, he can no longer hunt them, he can only capture them for removal to safer habitats. Which means what was once his livelihood has now devolved into a sideshow, a little exhibition for tourists who want to see some "genuine" Australian wildness.

As usual, Dundee seems unconcerned by this turn of events and seems willing as ever to go with the flow. But when his common-law wife, Sue Charleton (Linda Kozlowski, the real-life Mrs. Hogan, also here for a third time), is summoned by her father to take over as a bureau chief of his L.A. newspaper, he's eager for the change. He's also eager for their son, Mikey (10-year-old Serge Cockburn, making his film debut), to get a look at life outside Australia.

So the family Dundee jets to L.A., and the predictable ensues - mainly, lots of fish-out-of-water jokes, some of them funny, but most of them only imitations of what was fresher (and funnier) when the first film was released in 1986.

Much of what passes for new comes when Dundee finds himself playing private eye, helping his wife in an investigation involving smuggled goods and foreign baddies. Croc fancies himself an expert on crime-solving because of his immersion in the world of "NYPD Blue" and darn if he doesn't figure out the case! Whatta guy.

Hogan, who looks like he hasn't aged a day since the original film, is always fun to watch, and his laid-back, sweet-tempered approach to filmmaking remains undeniably appealing. Still, though its simple pleasures remain, the thrill of "Crocodile Dundee" is gone.

`Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles'

Starring Paul Hogan and Linda Kozlowski

Directed by Simon Wincer

Rated PG (language, brief violence)

Released by Paramount Pictures

Running time 95 minutes

Sun score **

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