Posted: 07/15/2002


Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course


by Coco Delgado

That loony crocodile wrestling-shark biting-snake wrangling-tarantula chasing Aussie explodes onto the big screen. And, really, ‘e’s not all that bad, mate!

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I know the Croc Hunter, Steve Irwin, is all the rage over on a couple of cable channels, but I’ve never been a fan, really. I’ve always thought of him as sort of an Australian Robin Leach with an overabundance of testosterone. Although I have taken great delight in spoofs of the show. And, of course, seen the rather scary dolls made in Irwin’s image.

So naturally, I went into the theatre to see Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course expecting to be bored witless.

But you know, it really wasn’t that bad. It was silly, yes, but there were bits that made me recall why I liked watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom with Marlin Perkins when I was a kid.

The film is, basically, an episode of the Croc Hunter TV series with a spy plot interwoven into it. In a clever little touch, the scenes with Steve and Terry Irwin are shot in TV-screen format, while the spy parts are shot in widescreen. And the plot is a simple one: A satellite beacon has fallen to earth in Australia, and two rather cliched goverment agents are sent to fetch it.

Steve and Terri think they’re poachers, they think Steve and Terri are international spies, and hilarity ensues, the likes of which have not been seen since the glory days of Three’s Company.

The story is a silly one, with a gun-happy rancher (Magda Szubanski, from the Babe, The Pig movies), cartoon spies, and a cameo by the set from Wargames. There’s also a cameo by George W. himself…I think. I can’t find a credit for it anywhere, either as him or by an impersonator. There are some amusing reference to the actual show, which is actually a nice touch: it would have felt wrong had they just ignored the existance of the show, which has been on the air for 10 years. Instead they say things like, “You mean, that dude on the Discovery Channel,” which, let’s face it, is the sort of thing someone would really say.

But the Croc Hunter bits are fun. Towards the end, some reference is made to the couple filming an episode, but when we see Steve and Terri, this isn’t really all that obvious; there is no camera crew in evidence. But Steve narrates every move he makes in his booming Aussie voice in such a way it makes you wonder if he does this when he’s at home, too:

“Ah’m feelin’ a bit peckish, so Ah think Ah’ll go into the kitchen and russle up some grub. Crikey! Ah’m hungry. Roight, naow, be careful, we’re gonna enter the fridge’s territory. They’re perfectly adapted for this environment, and look at it! Isn’t she a bee-yoo-tee? You’re a nice sheila, aren’t you darlin’? Naow, lessee what you’ve got inside…Crikey! Wot’s that!? That’s been in there a while, that has - Phoooee! That’s been in there at least a coupla months, and it is RIPE. Real ripe! Whooo!”

My one complaint is that, in the film (and maybe on the show as well, I have no idea), Terri is sort of like those women in those bad B horror movies of the Fifties who are just there to help the doctors, scientists, or whatever. Twice she’s hung up with mundane things (finding a net, starting the motor on the boat) while Steve is in mortal danger, yelling at her to help him. Once was okay, but twice is getting a little misogynistic.

But, on the other hand, it is comforting to see that this guy found a girl who’s as odd as he is, who’s interested in thing like croc poo…it’s reassuring, really, proof that there really is someone out there for everyone. Kinda like when that Peter Pan guy in Florida found his Tinkerbell.

Really, it’s a lark. And it does have a good, up-with-planet-earth, up-with-animals message, as the Irwins are passionate about conservation. And kids seem to really be into it.

I know some people think Irwin is way over the top, but I worked for an Australian once. He wasn’t even all that outdoorsy really, yet he managed to give the impression that dealing with his vice-presidents and the other department heads was every bit as dangerous and exciting as wrestling crocodiles and wrangling deadly snakes. And he didn’t care what anyone thought of him, either…they’re fair dinkum, those Aussies. Whoo!

Coco Delgado is a writer who always sits in the front row. For fun she moves to different cities, which have included Montreal, San Francisco and Atlanta. This year it’s Boston..

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