What is it about brothers and American film comedy? Male sibs seem to have all the bases covered, from the absurdist irony of the Coens (Fargo) to the gross-out humour of the Farrellys (There’s Something about Mary) to the teen-sex silliness of the Weitzs (American Pie). But just as the Coens tried something different with their latest, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the other fraternal teams are moving on. Three years and a couple of not-sosmart comedies after Mary, the Farrellys are now aiming their bodily-function humour at children with Osmosis Jones. The Weitzs, meanwhile, have abandoned the boy-libido genre, \ezvmg American Pie 2 'm the hands of James B. Rogers, who, coincidentally, acted as assistant director on both American Pie and Mary.
Osmosis Jones is half live-action, half animation, part Rush Hour, part Toy Story. And it’s set in the body of Bill Murray—which is just as creepy as getting into the head of John Malkovich. Murray plays Frank, a dishevelled single father and zookeeper with a gluttonous appetite. When he pops a hard-boiled egg in his mouth, the camera follows it down the hatch and into the animated City of Frank. There, upstanding “citizens” such as red and white blood cells live alongside a large population of germs—societal scum. The mayor resides in the brain, the airport is located in the stomach and the mobsters take a steam bath in the armpit.
When a cold hits, Det. Osmosis Jones— a white blood cell voiced by Chris Rock— is partnered with Special Agent Drix Benzo (David Hyde Pierce), a 12-hour cold-relief pill Frank has ingested. Drix aims to offer immediate, yet temporary, relief, while Jones wants to get to the root of Frank’s poor immunity. Outside the body, Frank’s daughter, Shane (Elena Franklin), worries that her dad, like her mom, will die from bad eati ing habits. While Shane’s fear J might seem a little serious g for a kid’s movie, the movie’s anti-junk-food message is delivered in a humorous, palatable way.
While Osmosis taps the colon, zits and vomit for jokes, American Pie 2 opts for masturbation, butt gags and public urination. The original Pie—about a teenage boy’s prolonged quest to lose his virginity—was surprisingly funny and even endearing, wooing the audience with irresistible characters. Everyone’s back for the sequel, but this movie skips the foreplay and goes straight for the nooky, with Jim (Jason Biggs) getting lucky in the opening scene. And gone, for the most part, are the moments of innocent silliness that enlivened the first instalment. Pie 2 does offer some first-rate vulgar laughs and a chance to reunite with old friends, especially Jim’s dad as played by Eugene Levy. But it’s a major disappointment. Of course, that’s only to be expected: the second time is never as memorable as the first.
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