Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles –an unashamedly old-fashioned and surprisingly entertaining comedy-thriller from Paul Hogan — is by no means a great movie, but neither is it the unqualified disaster it might so easily have been. Though Hogan’s non-Crocodile Dundee career has been less than spectacular, you have to give the guy credit for being smart enough to realize that you can only milk a crocodile so many times. Thirteen years separates this entry from the last Dundee adventure and helps give this outing the feel of a visit from an old friend, rather than the feeling of a slightly too precious acquaintance that has outstayed his welcome. Time has certainly altered Mick Dundee (Hogan). His already leathery face looks like the road map of a major city when he smiles in close-up, but then the actor is 60 years old — and all in all, we should look so good at 60. (In medium and long shots, Hogan is starting to bear an alarming resemblance to Charlton Heston.) Hogan actually uses his age to advantage. Mick Dundee isn’t so much old as he is out of his time, but he’s more or less resigned to that fact and content to be a colorful anachronism reliant on the tourist trade for his bread and butter. He considers this the lot of a man of his sort in the 20th century, until a cell-phone-sporting Aborigine buddy of his points out that it’s the 21st century. Of course, the whole point is that Mick will prove himself anything but out of date by the end of the film. His basic intelligence, humor, self-possession, honesty and innate good humor will see him through. It’s a bewhiskered concept — the old crocodile-out-of-water ploy — but it’s a pleasant one, a friendly one and a strangely comforting one. The plot involves Mick’s not-quite-wife Sue Charlton (Linda Koslowski) moving to Los Angeles — with Mick and their son in tow — to serve as managing editor for one of her newspaper-tycoon father’s papers, after the previous editor is “accidentally” killed. Not surprisingly, it soon becomes apparent that her predecessor wasn’t killed so accidentally, but was onto something fishy involving a new movie studio whose films constantly lose money. It naturally falls to Mick — getting a job as an extra and later as an animal handler — to solve the mystery and set things right. That’s about all there is to it. And while the movie’s slightly tarted up with a few swear words and a dash of innuendo, it’s not all that different than one of those late-in-the-day comedies Jimmy Stewart or even Cary Grant made in the 1960s. It’s nicely crafted, entertaining fluff that isn’t meant to be taken seriously and has no sense at all of its own importance. It’s just entertainment. Pure and simple. And there’s one bizarrely humorous cameo appearance by George Hamilton wherein the actor, at a Hollywood party, espouses the healthful benefits of a coffee high colonic. Well, after all, it is L.A.
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