Making the Grades
When the disgustingly dirty Frank (Bill Murray) eats a much-anticipated hard-boiled egg even though it had fallen on the ground, he is unaware of his potentially fatal mistake. Jumping to duty (as well as animation), an under-respected white blood cell called Osmosis Jones (voiced by Chris Rock) plies his overzealous policing skills to round up hordes of ingested bacteria, but inadvertently allows a lethal virus to penetrate Frank's defense system.
Consequently, the street-wise Jones is assigned to partner with Drix (David Hyde Pierce) an over-the-counter cold pill that Frank takes to remedy what feels like a sore throat, and track down the grim reaper Thrax (Laurence Fishburne) who is using his sickle-sized glowing fingernail to slash apart any opposition to his hidden agenda--to kill his host.
The premise of personifying the inner workings of the human immune system may have some hoping this live-action/animation film will be educational as well as entertaining. Such expectations will be met with disappointment. Without a basic working knowledge of the body and, in particular, the function of white blood cells, the story will appear as little more than a Saturday morning crime-fighting cartoon. Young viewers are unlikely to appreciate the witty comparisons of "Frank" to a huge metropolis, the stomach to a new arrivals airport, the brain to the seat of government, or the bladder to a departure bus depot. Even I was lost trying to identify the highly caricatured figures--it took me a while to figure out that the frightened Spanish-speaking green thing was a germ. However, the bad-city depictions found in the Kidney Rocks nightclub or the armpit steam room mafia hangout, translate very well.
Although most of the violence portrayed occurs in the animated sequences, parents may also be concerned with the live-action gross depictions of runny noses, bursting pimples, vomiting, or the more serious example of a main character driving immediately after consuming a can of beer. An attempt to express the importance of proper health habits and hygiene is evident, but children may not be immune to the bad attitudes and bodily humor presented in either of the two worlds.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Osmosis Jones.
The soundtrack for Osmosis Jones includes many rap numbers and some questionable lyrics. For a look at the work of one of the featured artists, check Jim’s review of Talk about the movie with your family…
In this movie, Frank’s daughter Shane (played by Elena Franklin) is constantly preaching better health practices to her exercise-avoiding, fried-chicken-eating father. This “kid’s know best” portrayal is not uncommon in movies aimed at children. Can you think of any other examples? Why do you think this attitude is so prevalent in this genre?
Do you find there is a difference in the way you accept content if it is portrayed in animation or live action format? For instance, does watching an animated character hanging from the bottom of an elevator worry you as much as it might if it were a live actor? If it doesn’t, why do you think this is so?