Released
July 14, 2002 (USA)
Director
John Stainton
Writers
John Stainton
Holly Goldberg Sloan
Cast (partial listing)
Steve Irwin as Himself
Terri Irwin as Herself
Magda Szubanski as Brozzie Drewitt
David Wenham as Sam Flynn
Timothy Bottoms as George W. Bush
Executive Producer
Bruce Willis (yes, that Bruce Willis)

Plot Synopsis

A crocodile in north Queensland, Australia has swallowed an expensive and important tracking device from a satellite. Completely ignorant of this, a crocodile hunter must save that same croc from being killed by an angry land owner (Szubanski).

Review

On a scale of 1 to 10, this movie sucks.

Okay, it's a kiddie movie. It's rated PG in the United States and United Kingdom. It's 90 minutes in length. The filmmakers weren't exactly shooting for Oscar-caliber material. But they failed on so many levels to make an entertaining movie.

Steve Irwin is the Crocodile Hunter, and Terri ("Ter") is his wife. They go out in search of crocodiles and other wildlife in the Australian outback. Their show on the Discovery Channel normally runs 30 minutes in length, including commercials. Here, we are presented with what is essentially a triple-length episode of "Crocodile Hunter" with the commercials replaced by a hopelessly thin plot involving the CIA, National Reconnaissance Office, and a crazed Queenslander who wants to kill a croc.

The backstory is explained thoroughly in the first five or so minutes. The United States has lost contact with a satellite, and it turns out that the tracking drone has landed somewhere in the outback. Two bumbling CIA agents are sent to Australia to go find it.

That's the entirety of plot A. The subplot is explained in the following few minutes: Brozzie Drewitt is at odds with a crocodile who she believes is encroaching upon her land, and threatens to kill it with her shotgun. (Actually, she threatens to kill everything with her shotgun, but that's not the point.)

Once the commercial plot break is over, we're treated to a total of roughly 60 minutes of Steve Irwin taunting snakes, spiders, and other wild creatures for no reason. This is educational, I suppose, and Irwin plays to the camera better than any other animal expert I've seen. (Try watching a Jack Hanna film if you don't believe this.) Ter plays the helpful wife/sidekick, providing additional information and driving when necessary.

In the meantime, the CIA sends its bumbling agents to rendezvous with a hot Australian field agent and start tracking their drone.

The agents are very naive, as underscored by this representative sample of a segueway between scenes:

Bumbling CIA Agent: Come on, what could go wrong? There's nothing dangerous in Australia.
(cut to extreme close-up of Steve)
Steve Irwin: Crikey! This snake is one cruel bugger! Look at its venom! And I think it wants a go at me ball sack!

Get it? Get it? If you didn't get it, you're subjected to candid shots of Steve's crotch being assaulted by snakes no fewer than four times in a 90-minute movie. This is all his own fault, by the way, and Ter sits in the Range Rover enjoying the air conditioning while her husband stands on the verge of castration.

More nature talk, more nature talk... cut to Brozzie. Brozzie's crazy, you see. She releases the hounds on all trespassers, including Australian wildlife conservation agents. She lives alone. She hates the croc. She baits the croc with a chicken, then tries to reel it in. She falls. Poetic justice yada yada yada...

Crikey! For reasons not explained in the film at all, Steve's croc sense has started tingling and he drives hundreds of miles across Queensland (the Range Rover apparently has a 100-gallon gas tank) to the area near Brozzie's land where the croc is.

Meanwhile, in Washington...

Apparently the National Reconnaissance Office has been double-crossed. Their shit-for-brains agents should be using their overly noisy GPS to locate the tracking drones. Shots of black-tie affairs and eerily dramatic cell phone conversations follow, with the heads of the CIA and NRO talking with agents, each other, and the idiots in Australia. Yes, the filmmakers thought they could make a political thriller out of this movie. Why? Parents have already tuned out by this point, and kids are totally lost.

Meanwhile, in Australia...

The agents have found the signal, but it's weak. Maybe it's underwater? They track it to -- where else? -- Brozzie's land, where they run into Brozzie and are held prisoner by her ruthless dogs.

Steve Irwin has been contacted by somebody to help save the croc from Brozzie's shotgun, yet he stops every goddamn five minutes to avoid running over a snake. But no, he can't just chuck the snake aside. He has to talk for ten more minutes about the snake and why it's so important that their Range Rover not smush it. Why does anyone trust Steve Irwin to save wildlife when he has to stop every five minutes to talk to the camera?!

And oh yeah, the CIA uses Steve's visits to places like East Timor to cast him as some sort of terrorist who must be wiped out because he is endangering freedom. While the references are purely tongue-in-cheek and do not use the T-word, they were wholly unnecessary and stupid. Of course, by this point in the film, "stupid" resonates at 60 Hertz in your brain.

The film's main action sequence is a boat chase involving the CIA agents (who Irwin believes are poachers; apparently the CIA doesn't teach its agents to identify themselves) and the Irwins' motorboat. It's here that we learn the shameful truth about Ter: even though Terri is playing herself, she can't act. Lines like "Steve!" (horrified) or "Oh no! I think they're getting closer!" are delivered in a totally flat monotone voice. Steve Irwin's asides are fast and furious (always ad-libbed; neither Steve nor Terri used any scripts, according to IMDb) but Ter can't get into the right mood during the most energetic of scenes.

Will the croc be saved? What will happen to the tracking device? I'll save the spoilers for someone else. What I can tell you is that this movie has no ending -- apparently the directors decided to cut off the movie at the 90-minute mark and stop editing. After a few outtakes, Irwin helpfully explains all the important bits that tie up what little plot this movie has. After that, you can leave.


I saw this movie outside in Schenley Park in Pittsburgh as part of the free Cinema in the Parks series. Several members of our group left about 20 minutes into it, while the rest of us stayed for the sheer shamelessness of the movie. The movie did scare one of our group members a bit, what with scary action sequences with poor special effects and jumping crocs with big teeth. That explains the PG rating.

According to IMDb, this movie cost $13 million to make and recouped its costs -- US revenues were over $28 million. Not exactly a summer blockbuster (it premiered July 14, 2002) but not bad for a kids movie.

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