Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School (1988)

Well, it’s Halloween. And in spite of only starting this blog four weeks ago, I feel obliged to join in on every other reviewer in making seasonal reviews. Thing is, I hate horror. Granted, I haven’t seen that much, but I don’t want to. I don’t like being scared, I remember being kept up at night just from the intro to Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids, I had to frequently pause The Sarah-Jane Adventures when they were doing a scary episode, horror and I just don’t mix. And yet, I was obsessed with one thing as a child which perfectly lends itself to my inaugural Halloween review: Scooby-Doo.

This is one of three Scooby-Doo movies which were created for the Hanna-Barbera Superstars 10, ten movies created to air in 1987 and 1988 before quickly receiving VHS releases. And while I don’t remember owning this one like I did Reluctant Werewolf and Alien Invaders, it did air often enough on Cartoon Network or Boomerang that I did watch it several times. And according to TV Tropes (obviously by no means a verifiable source, but still a starting point on how it was received), this is one of the more well-liked movies from the Scrappy-Doo era, even if it is more due to the supporting cast it creates. This claim does seem to have merit, given that they’ve recently made an appearance in OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes with several references to their movie. But of course, just because it’s the most fondly remembered, doesn’t guarantee something’s going to be good.

Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School

Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School is a made-for-tv movie that first aired in 1988 on The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera block. It follows Scooby, Scrappy, and Shaggy shortly before and during their tenure at Miss Grimwood’s Finishing School for Girls, where Shaggy’s signed on to be a coach. They quickly realise that all of the students of the school are monsters, and reluctantly stay on due to having already signed a contract. There, they come to know their students, help them in a volleyball game against a rival military school, and end up trying to protect them from a witch seeking to use them to become the greatest monster in the world.

Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School was one of the Scooby-Doo movies/cartoons made between 1985 and 1988 that had Shaggy appear with a red v-neck and jeans instead of his iconic green v-neck and brown trousers. While this admittedly means nothing on its own (we haven’t even been given a reason for the pallet swap), it does give context to the main cast. Fred and Velma are nowhere to be seen, and Daphne has left the cast at some point between The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo and this movie. Instead, we’re left with Shaggy and Scooby, as well as Scrappy. And despite his reputation, I didn’t find Scrappy annoying in this movie. I didn’t come to hate his voice, he didn’t exist just to be captured or serve any negative role in the story, he was just as good a character as Shaggy and Scooby. However, that’s not a good thing. In spite of this being a Scooby-Doo movie, they have very little purpose in it. Sure, Shaggy being signed on as a coach acts a framing device to bring about the school, but they could’ve fled as soon as they realised that all the children were monsters and a grand total of three things would’ve been changed. And not only is there nothing that requires the trio in particular to do these things, meaning they could’ve been replaced with original characters with no detriment, but they could’ve been easily changed to get rid of the need of a ‘coach’ character at all, with the exception of bringing someone normal into a strange and supernatural situation.

So if the three pre-existing characters don’t bring anything to the story, what about the students of the titular Ghoul School? Sibella is the daughter of Dracula who replaces every possible word to contain ‘fang’ or ‘bat’ (‘fangtastic’ being the most frequent one, Winnie is the daughter of a werewolf, Elsa Frankenteen was created by Frankenstein’s monster (called Frankenteen Sr. in this movie), Phantasma is, somehow, the daughter of a phantom, and Tanis is the daughter of an Egyptian Mummy. While this might sound like an interesting cast on paper, there’s the problem that what I’ve written is literally all there is to the characters. None of them go through any sort of development, none of them have backstories beyond at some point being sent to this school, and I can count the times that they’ve had a major impact on the plot on a single hand. And you may be thinking that, since that’s 8 characters so far with very little impact, any other side characters must be driving things forward. But each of them are as interesting as everyone before them. The school faculty including Miss Grimwood herself have very little definitive personality. The Calloway cadets from the nearby rival school might go through some semblance of a character arc, but they all have the same personality which isn’t much more than responding to everything with ‘affirmative’ or ‘negative’. The main villain, an evil witch called Revolta, has by far the most impact on the plot, yet she has the complexity of, well, an 80s cartoon villain.

This all surmounts to my single, biggest problem with this movie. It is a movie where nothing happens. As I mentioned before, the only character development that happens is with the boys of the rival school, where they realise shortly before the finale that maybe they shouldn’t abandon girls to incredible danger and go to rescue them at the last second. And also as mentioned before, Revolta has the only major impact on the plot, using her hypnotising powers to gather the girls with the intention of making them all her eternal slaves which, though some unclear reason, will make her the greatest monster in the world. But that’s it. Everything else in the 90 minute runtime is pure padding. They don’t even make jokes out of it: There’s scenes where everyone is in tutus doing ballet, scenes where they’re going for a run through a bog, and so many scenes where they just replace a word with another word or pretty much state a fact about what they’re doing. Yet none of them have any care put into them. Just the fact that Scooby’s in a tutu, or that Phantasma can just run through the tangled roots of a bog, or that Sibella said ‘fangtastic’ for the seventh time is supposed to be funny enough. Even the one more imaginative joke at the beginning, where Scooby points out the text during the intro sequence, I didn’t find at all funny.

And yet, in spite of having no jokes or even that much plot, there’s a strangely large amount of story. The best way I can describe it is with some of the Disney straight to DVD movies, like Tarzan & Jane and Belle’s Magical World. The ones where they prepare a cartoon series based on one of their movies, have it cancelled, but still take a few of the episodes and try and turn it into a 90 minute experience. There’s three or four distinct parts to this movie: Scooby, Shaggy, and Scrappy arrive at the Ghoul School and help them in their volleyball game, there’s an evening where all the fathers come to the school and meet the trio, and Revolta actually enacts her plan to abduct and enslave the children. None of them are really needed to support the other, and only the latter has any purpose in the grand scheme of things. I didn’t find anything to support this, but this movie does feel like it was planned to be a short tv series, maybe even a follow up to something like The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo. And I can’t even say that it would’ve been good as a tv show, again there’s a distinct lack of humour that I doubt would’ve been fixed by stretching material across an extra 9 episodes, but at least there’d be a chance for the characters to become more developed.

But despite this, I never ended up hating what I was watching like I did with Ozzy & Drix. Sure, the animation is decidedly weaker, due to both being older and the classic Scooby-Doo style this movie employs not really lending itself for any quick action as opposed to slapstick. And sure, it was boring, and I never had any strong emotional reaction to it except mild shame that I used to enjoy it. But then, at the end when the day is saved, they have a dance party. And during that dance party, they have a rap. The Scrappy Rap. Everything I said at the beginning of the review of not hating Scrappy doesn’t apply here, mainly due to the fact that it’s a rap in name only. Sure, it rhymes, and it’s said with music in the background, but it contains no real complexity, attention to pitch, or anything that makes a rap good. It’s little more than just a spoken poem, with very basic and boring dancing happening in the meantime. But for as terrible as this part is, it’s the only part that does loop around into being so bad it’s good. Does that make the movie worth watching? Not at all. But it does make me wonder if the entire movie would be better if watched with some friends to mock it constantly. After all, just because the movie refuses to make jokes, doesn’t mean you can’t make your own.

In Summary

A dull movie where, in spite of plenty of potential stories, nothing happens. It’s by no means an unpleasant watch, but you’re not going to get anything out of it except for one extra reason to dislike Scrappy. If you have some friends and a good amount of alcohol, you might want to try riffing it, but otherwise watch the O.K. KO! episode to see what could’ve been if some effort was put in.


Blade (1998)

When people talk about R rated superhero movies (or 15/18 over here in the UK), there’s one example everyone thinks of: Deadpool. I’m sure you’ve heard this all before by now, but as much talk as there was about it being ‘the first superhero movie given an adult rating’, that is clearly not the case. Watchmen, Judge Dredd, Constantine, The Punisher, Spawn, all examples of these. Sure, the quality of these movies aren’t thought to be the best (though with Watchmen it depends on who you ask), but there is one example I believe is pretty unanimously agreed on being good. Blade.

This isn’t just a thought held by people when thinking back on their favourite movies as kids. It did well financially, having the 29th biggest gross at the American box office in 1998 and leading to a Blade trilogy being made, and it was popular with both audiences at the time and today, apparently giving it a cult following. However, critics reacted with much less enthusiasm. Not at all that film critics must have the final say, they are individuals as opposed to a group conscious, but it seems likely that there must be *some* reason Blade is a whole percent lower than Osmosis Jones when it comes to Rotten Tomatoes’ critical response.

Blade 2

Blade is a 1998 superhero movie following the titular Blade, a ‘daywalker’ half-vampire born after his mother was bitten. Having all of their strengths and none of their weaknesses sans a thirst for blood, he and his father figure Abraham Whistler hunt down and kill vampires. After meeting Karen Jenson, a hematologist, they eventually uncover a plot by vampire Deacon Frost to resurrect the blood god from vampire folklore and turn the world into a killing ground.

In all comic adaptations, how they make the main characters look is a big factor. Some movies nail bringing a character to live action (such as 2016’s Deadpool), others manage to give a new take while still remaining faithful to the character (such as The Dark Knight’s Joker), and others end up messing it up entirely (such as 2004’s Catwoman and 1997’s Steel). Here, I think they managed to do all three. I have yet to read a Blade comic, but from a quick Google image search they have seemed to give Wesley Snipes a costume very similar to his comic counterpart (at least to some of his appearances). And yet, none of them exactly match what we see. Is it enough to give a breath of fresh air to the character? No, the differences from the main design seem minimal, but it’s still a perfectly good redesign. As for the final category, ‘messing it up completely’ is overstating it, but there is a notable detraction for me. The reason I named Shaq’s Steel under this category is that his entire costume, which is meant to be comprised of metal, looks extremely fake, almost like spray painted plastic. Blade’s chest piece, which I can only assume to be something akin to a kevlar vest, is the same only with less textural detail, and yet is supposed to be able to block bullets with no ill effect. I don’t know, this is probably me being nitpicky, but it’s something I found myself unable to ignore throughout the movie.

Speaking of poor effects, the CGI in this movie has not aged well. As a vampire hunter, Blade, as you might imagine, ends up killing quite a few bloodsuckers in this movie. And each time he does so, they end up almost burning away into a skeleton before that dissolves too. Neat idea, on paper, and would likely be really striking were this movie made today. But here, with each death comes skeletons which I’m pretty sure you could get as stock models today. That being said, Blade only goes on major vampire killing sprees at the beginning and the end of the movie, so even if you can’t put how bad it looks aside (I could), it shouldn’t make too much of a difference. However, even I couldn’t put aside the sentient flying skeletons just before the movie’s final battle, which just look terrible for what I’m sure was supposed to be taken seriously. But it’s not all abysmal. There’s a couple of times where vampires end up swelling and blowing up (likely being why this movie received an 18 rating as opposed to a mid to high 5 over here) which look kind of alright, and whenever a vampire slowly burns away due to being exposed to UV light, I think it still holds up.

While I don’t know how it was exactly originally received or currently viewed, or how it was originally pitched, there is one truth about Blade that the above aspects only accentuate: This film is two hours of amazingly goofy fun, and it’s that in the way only the 90s can really be. Blade’s set up from the moment we see him as the most badass man alive, fully capable of slaughtering a room full of vampires, and yet he gives this awkward little fist pump after pinning a vampire to the wall and responds to police shooting at him with an indignant “Motherfuck, are you out of your damn mind?”. The editing speeds up randomly in places, from following a vampire’s familiar in a car to Blade sheathing his sword, giving the movie this over-the-top ridiculousness. The fight scenes are full of dumb little touches that would never be taken even remotely seriously in a modern movie. With all this in mind, the flaw in Blade’s costume and the terrible CGI end up not detracting from the overall experience (except for the aforementioned flying skeletons), but instead improving it.

Obviously, this is not a movie you should watch if you want something particularly clever. Thinking about it, some of my complaints about Osmosis Jones ring true here. The characters aren’t the most complex, the story isn’t the most unique. The difference, though, is that this is a script that clearly has effort behind the cliches. I struggle to think of any really meaningful character development Blade or Karen go through, but the roles they fill are more unique to begin with. They’re not just “the street-smart cop in a buddy-cop” and “the book-wise cop in a buddy-cop”. They’re a half-vampire vampire hunter who’s starting to struggle to keep his vampire side at bay and a strong smart woman who, even though she is used as a damsel in distress relatively often, is still shown to be very capable of holding out for herself in a world she’s only learning about along with the audience. Just how many more words I need to describe them shows how much more interesting they are to follow. And for the plot, it’s more there as an excuse for Blade to get into all of the fight scenes than something meant to intended to get you thinking deeply about the universe, a framing device opposed to the main attraction. It’s a pretty predictable pattern for the sort of movie Blade sets out to be, but it’s different enough that I wasn’t subconsciously putting together every plot point before it happens, while in Osmosis Jones you could work out roughly what happens through the entire thing just from the first 5/10 minutes.

Given that there’s only so many possible ways to say “This movie is so goofy it’s amazing”, that’s about all I can say on this movie. The acting’s perfectly good, I fully believe each of them in the roles they were given and there were no duff moments, but I struggle to point at it and say it’s truly a masterclass of the art. The music, too, isn’t particularly noteworthy. It certainly isn’t bad, but it doesn’t bring scenes to new heights. If anything the fight scene camerawork I have the biggest issue with, employing a shaking camera and at points frequent cuts which can end up distracting in an age where I’ve been spoiled by the straight takes of John Wick. But really, it doesn’t take away from the otherwise very entertaining fights. It’s almost certainly just a nitpick.

In Summary

A great movie to watch when you just want pure entertainment for a couple of hours. Blade’s strengths may not have entirely been intended back when it was made, but even it faults come together to bring about a very fun movie. After watching nothing but bad or tedious things for too long, this was a very welcome break.


Ozzy & Drix (2002-2004)

In my last review, I looked back at 2001’s Osmosis Jones. I largely agreed with the critical reception of the time in that the animated portions of the film, while deep rooted in the cliches of buddy cop movies, was made relatively enjoyable thanks to the interpretation of the body as a city. I also agreed that the live action sections were extremely weak, largely due to them being the primary source of the movie’s gross-out humour. A year after the movie hit cinemas, something that seemingly addresses these faults comes out: The cartoon Ozzy & Drix.

It used to be the case that practically anything popular with children, no matter how little sense it made, would get a cartoon series. The Mask made sense, but then there was the Robocop animated series, and I’m not sure exactly who was asking for a Police Academy cartoon. But, given how Osmosis Jones did perform better on home media than it did in the box office, pandering to the demographic they might have seen as responsible could be a successful idea.

Ozzy & Drix

Ozzy & Drix is a cartoon that ran for 2 seasons of 13 episodes between 2002 and 2004 on Kids’ WB. Following the events of Osmosis Jones, the titular Osmosis and Drix get sucked up by a mosquito while chasing after the disease Scarlet Fever. It transports them from the city of Frank to the city of Hector, a 13 year old boy. After saving Hector, they are allowed to continue living there by the mayor, setting up a PI business behind his eye. Together they constantly butt heads with the mayor and the police force as they try and protect the kid from all manners of bodily threats.

As it’s the first thing anyone’s exposed to while watching a cartoon, I feel I should look at the intro first. And in both the music and the intro animation, it’s clear that the creative team were trying to some degree, but they didn’t put their all behind it. The animation does do its job, it gives a summary of things you can expect from the show, such as Ozzy and Drix fighting some threat from outside the body with the mayor taking the credit. It’s not amazing, but it’s decently fluid. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t cut corners. Several scenes are taken directly from the show itself, and even in one particularly noticeable example with Drix dancing from the movie that spawned it, dragging it down slightly from what would otherwise be a completely alright intro.

The theme song itself is a hip hop track clearly inspired from the movie’s soundtrack. I don’t know how much room I have to criticize it, given it’s not a genre I’m overly familiar with, but it sounds somewhat generic, for lack of a better term. It’s a perfectly fine song, but even after listening to it over 26 times I can’t remember a single lyric except for the very beginning or the very end. It just doesn’t seem to stand out. With all that said, I can still call it the best track in the show, though that is to damn it with very faint praise. Also inspired by the movie’s soundtrack, Ozzy & Drix features an original song every few episodes. Not a single one of them was pleasant to listen to, with whatever band at the mic screaming exposition about the state of Hector, even though the viewer already knows it and the band sometimes really shouldn’t. Exposition is a strong word though, given at least one of them is just repeatedly calling out how doomed Hector is and the others are similarly simple lyrically. On top of all of that, there’s only one time where the song actually moved the plot along in any way, and since it was a representative of nicotine hypnotizing all the nearby cells to make them addicted to him, I don’t believe it was necessary to have the sequence be a song.

As you might have guessed from that, this show has the anti-smoking episode that is almost obligatory in edutainment show. That’s what the show is when you get down to it; while most episodes do devolve into Ozzy and Drix fighting the infection of the week, it’s framed through Hector refusing to brush his teeth, or finding out he has an allergy, or overusing a nose spray. But, in one of the show’s strengths, not every episode is like this. For example, one episode deals with the aftereffects of Hector getting a concussion and all the cells except the titular ones losing their recent memory, and another has the mayor give Hector a phobia of swimming after he almost drowned. On top of this, while the lessons being taught are extremely evident (the pilot having Osmosis go on a monologue about how Hector reminds him of Frank at that age, before he gained all of his horrible habits, which doesn’t seem in character), the primary focus of the cartoon is the action. Compared with how preachy the show could’ve been, I can appreciate this. However, the nature of the show can very quickly work against itself.

In each episode, Hector is required to get ill, cause himself an injury, or just gain some unhealthy habit to cause the problem that Ozzy & Drix have to fight. But what little personality he has changes frequently in order to fit the episode. He’s seen in the opening brushing his teeth, yet in the final episode of season 2 he apparently doesn’t and hasn’t for long enough to need fillings. He’s frequently seen playing basketball, skating, and so on, and yet in one episode he’s completely lost interest to the point where he’s almost had an entire artery blocked up with fat. This is one of the most infuriating aspects of the show, the sheer inconsistency of it. Changes between the movie and the cartoon are understandable, it likely wasn’t written with the intention of being a cartoon, and differences between the layout of Frank and Hector are understandable due to them being completely different people (though Frank had a lot more internal sense; the stomach was an airport terminal in the movie, while in the cartoon it’s a frequently used beach with children playing in the tide, even though it’s immediately acknowledged that it would quickly and easily dissolve them into nothing). Internal inconsistencies, however, are not. For example, when Ozzy & Drix save Hector from Scarlet Fever (who, as an aside, is essentially a less suave copy of Thrax from the movie), they’re treated as heroes, and not only are they no longer getting kicked out of the body but are being gifted ‘prime real estate’ in Hector’s eye. But in every following episode, they (Ozzy especially) are treated with nothing but contempt. It’s first shown that the cells can only see what Hector sees through a special feed in the Mayor’s office or through the eye using binoculars, but at some point it ends up being publicly available first through cinemas, and then through tvs. A season 1 episode has the penicillin G injection takes the form of a James Bond knock off, and yet a mouthful of chocolate cereal which Hector frequently eats brings with it several superheroes, with the event being apparently something special and unique. By far the most infuriating example of this is that, in half of the season 2 episodes, Ozzy’s car has an AI which offers some a few quips, but nothing more. By the final episode, there had still been no attempt to even suggest an origin to this. It’s not even a matter of an explaining episode being aired later than planned, the creating studio simply couldn’t be bothered to give an origin episode within the same season. Even if they were unexpectedly cancelled and they planned on making it a third season episode, it isn’t an excuse.

Even without the inconsistencies, this is still a very infuriating show to watch. Much like the aforementioned dancing Drix scene in the intro, the show frequently reuses animation from the movie, most often a shot of the tongue moving in front of an open mouth or two cops reacting to something coming in over the radio. It never fits due to the decrease in animation quality between the movie and the cartoon, and always looks awkward at best. It makes jokes relatively frequently, but not a single one over the 26 episodes landed for me. As far as characters are concerned, Hector changes personality and has his life threatened so often that I’m wondering how he’s still alive instead of actually caring for him, and everyone else is extremely one note. Much like in Osmosis Jones, the characters are their cliches, only this time no one ever goes through character development that holds any degree of impact on the show. And when there are elements that carry over between episodes that give them a definitive canon, such as Drix getting a dog made of dog saliva, it gets rid of the argument that they shouldn’t include major changes for when the show gets syndicated. It just feels all around lazy.

In Summary

Ozzy & Drix had the opportunity to take what worked with Osmosis Jones and turn it into 20 minute episodes, an idea which worked perfectly well on paper. Yet while I hesitate to say that Osmosis Jones had charm, Ozzy & Drix got rid of all of it, and while it may show how to do an edutainment cartoon well it doesn’t have the material needed to back it up. The lack of interesting characters and good humour persists, and is supported by bad writing, music, and a formula that is stale by the second season in spite of the variations.


Osmosis Jones (2001)

The idea of a body being controlled by sentient, humanoid beings inside of it is by no means a unique concept. I was introduced to it through The Numbskulls in The Beano, where five figures in charge of a boy’s sight, smelling, hearing, tasting, and general actions were the main focus. Others have been through the more recent Inside Out and Cells at Work, with Pixar’s movie giving a heartfelt story driven by a young girl’s anthropomorphised emotions and the anime taking a more educational route and teaching what happens inside the body. And in 2001, I’m sure yet more were through the live action-animated hybrid Osmosis Jones.

That being said, I can’t be certain exactly how positive their induction into the concept generally was. The movie was a box office bomb, and also failed to perform well with critics who averaged around 5.5/10, according to Rotten Tomatoes. However, things aren’t as open and shut as they may seem. Some critics liked the film, with Roger Ebert giving it 3/4 stars, and it allegedly did well in terms of home media. Hopefully, after taking a 17 year long step back, it’ll be possible to work out what on earth was going on.

Osmosis Jones

Osmosis Jones is a gross-out buddy cop movie which interprets the inner workings of a human body as a city, inhabited by anthropomorphic cells, germs, and viruses. The titular Osmosis Jones is a police officer in the City of Frank, a zookeeper with little respect for hygiene as shown when he eats a boiled egg that had been sucked on by a monkey and dropped in its cage. This introduces Thrax to his body, a virus with the intention to kill Frank fast enough to enter medical books. To avoid going to the hospital, Frank takes a cold pill that becomes anthropomorphised in his body and takes the name Drix. He and Osmosis get partnered up and have to use their respective skills to protect Frank from being killed, even if the rest of the police force and the mayor only concerned about reelection don’t believe them.

This is not a movie which fluidly integrates its live action and animated elements. The animation is strictly reserved for the world of the microbes, while everything on a human level is live action, with there being very little overlap between the two until the very end. As such, I feel it would be best to look at the shorter live action parts first. After all, finding the right director and actors for these was what ended up putting Osmosis Jones in development hell. These must have been seen as parts vital for the movie’s plot and success, especially with them settling on Bill Murray for the starring role of Frank. They end up being quite easily the worst part of the movie.

While the gross-out humour is present throughout the movie, it is at its most prominent in these sections. Every scene having Frank pull off some disgusting act, such as opening his mouth just to show a load of disgusting mush on his tongue. In fact, only two of these acts (eating a boiled egg that had been in a monkey’s mouth and dropped in its cage, bringing Thrax into his body, and throwing up all over his daughter’s teacher which led to the decline in Frank’s health standards) have any significant effect on the plot. And given how neither of these strictly require us to see what’s happening in the human world, having strong visuals on the inside, I struggle to see why the movie was put on hold just for the live action segments to be included. And while most of the actors are pretty good (especially Frank’s daughter, given her actress Elena Franklin was barely 13 by the film’s premiere), Bill Murray as Frank seems to be extremely unemotional, though I can easily chalk that up to just not having the material to work with. All in all, it just ends up being highly unpleasant. I ended up skipping through some scenes due to the unpleasantness of it, and doing that didn’t make me miss much.

But that’s enough about the live action sections. Let’s talk about what takes up the majority of the movie.

Unlike the other examples I named in the intro, Osmosis Jones isn’t driven by an exploration of what the inhabitants of the body do on a day to day basis. Instead it’s used more as a framing device, a way to make the buddy cop aspect less generic. It both succeeds and fails at this. The actual plot is almost indistinguishable from any other movie of the genre: A street-smart rebel cop get a booksmart partner, finding out a terrible plot that everyone else dismisses, before getting back together to save the day. Nothing you haven’t heard before. But it does allow for some imaginative imagery that sticks in the mind. Nerves are power lines and destroying the main nerve receptor causes the body’s leg to cramp, for example. The main goal of the villain is to destroy the entire city by killing Frank, and the reason Drix can be that smart but inexperienced cliche is because he’s literally a pill who came straight from the factory into Frank’s stomach. It’s all these touches, both to the setting and to the plot, which gives the film some staying power.

But while the setting assists the plot, it doesn’t really help the overall feel of the movie that much. This is primarily due to two factors. The first is that, for a comedy, it really wasn’t funny. Even setting aside the gross out humour, which could purely be a matter of taste, a lot of the humour boiled down to “It’s real life, but something’s related to something inside the body”, with the rest being practically nonsensical randomness. I only got one laugh throughout the movie due to that latter type, when Drix first enters the zit. The second is just how dark the movie is. As well as pushing the release date of the movie back in order to film the live action sequences, it was also mandated that the content of Osmosis Jones was cut so that it would fit a PG, rather than a PG-13, rating. This leads to plenty of horrifying imagery, especially when it comes to Thrax and his method of killing (the second example of which is shown on screen in its entirety). Given that some even more violent scenes were cut from the movie in order to earn its rating, it makes me wonder exactly what it could’ve been like. Maybe it would’ve been an even tougher watch, maybe it would’ve helped it stand out even more. I’ll leave it up to your discretion as to which is more likely.

That isn’t to say the movie isn’t without its strengths. Something that completely blindsided me was the music. While some of it just relatively unassuming background music, others I found myself noting and enjoying. Of particular note is the tune playing over the opening credits and the ‘Cool, Daddy Cool’ from inside the zit club personally, while ‘Take It to da House’ did end up charting in the US, even if only at 88. Also, Thrax is by far the greatest character here. None of the other characters are acted badly, but they’re all very generic to the point where those not in the principal cast just seem to meld together in my mind. And even with Osmosis and Drix, they are little more than the buddy cop cliches they represent, with the only interesting things about them coming from what they physically are in the body. Laurence Fishburne carries Thrax exceptionally well, giving him this suave manner for the most part which easily gives way for the unhinged psychopathy you’d expect from a killer virus. From the moment he appears, you see him as a genuine threat, something I was worried an otherwise poor movie wouldn’t be able to do.

In Summary

Osmosis Jones was a movie that was undoubtedly worsened through executive demands, though exactly how much better it would’ve been is debatable. I strongly believe that, if they had just cut out the live action sequences, then the movie would be a lot stronger, with the unique setting making up for the unoriginal plot. As it stands, it gets bogged down with bad humour, a cast of mostly uninteresting characters, and Bill Murray trying and succeeding to make me feel disgusted. At least watching today it’s possible to skip forward.


An Introduction

Welcome to Modern Retrospectives!

As the name might suggest, this is a blog which I plan on using in order to look back on various forms of media, some which I’m familiar with and some which before starting for this site were completely new to me, and reviewing them based on a current standpoint. It doesn’t matter what the opinion towards whatever subject’s at hand at its release, whether it pioneered an entire genre or was quickly relegated into obscurity. I will be taking these things into account, as well as any relevant revelations since release about what happened behind the scenes, but the main focus will be how they have aged in their own right.

I hope you like what you find here,
– Tom