Hip hop: Kangaroo Jack lost in the Outback

Charlie Carbone and Louis Booker meet at the beach at the age of ten, and moments later Louis saves Charlie from drowning. Twenty years later, they're still the best of friends, but since that first day Louis has mostly gotten Charlie into trouble, not out of it.

On the same day in 1982 Charlie's mom (Dyan Cannon) met the man who would become his stepfather, mob boss Sal Maggio (Christopher Walken), who has set Charlie (Jerry O'Connell) up in a beauty shop, with Sal taking 80 percent of the profits.

Charlie may be a hairdresser, but he's straight. Why else would he lament, "I'll never find the right girl"? (Unless of course the right girl is a guy.) Since this is a Hollywood movie, he will find the right girl, with a little help from his friend Louis (Anthony Anderson), who, being African American, doesn't get to have a love interest (the unwritten law to that effect was revised several years ago; someone didn't get the memo).

This being a Jerry Bruckheimer film, there's a big chase scene through New York traffic before we get very far into the story, with several vehicles being wrecked. Louis and Charlie unwittingly lead the police to the warehouse where Sal's stolen goods are stored. Being "family" in more than one sense, Sal gives his stepson a chance to redeem himself by delivering an envelope containing $50,000 to a "Mr. Smith" (Marton Csokas) in Coober Pedy, Australia.

Understand that Kangaroo Jack is not Wonder Boys or The Hours or any other movie made by, for, and about people of intellect. That helps explain what happens in Australia. Zipping across the outback in a jeep, our boys accidentally hit a kangaroo. They think they've killed it. but Louis has to take some pictures. Because it reminds him of Jack, an associate back home, they dress the kangaroo in Charlie's sunglasses and Louis' "lucky jacket."

The newly christened "Jack" comes back to life and goes hippity-hopping down the kangaroo trail wearing the jacket with $50,000 in the pocket. Thus begins a long chase with various gangsters trying to catch our heroes while they pursue Jack. They get some assistance from wildlife preservationist Jessie (Estella Warren), who is to kangaroos what Steve Irwin is to crocodiles. She also turns out to be "the right girl" for Charlie. Gee, I hope I'm not spoiling a surprise there.

With or without Jessie, the guys face scorching heat, dingos, a sandstorm, farting camels, and the threat of poisonous snakes, plus a wild plane ride with an unconscious pilot. And did I mention the farting camels?

Nothing in Kangaroo Jack is meant to be taken seriously, let alone analyzed. It's one of those pictures where the main characters would seem like total morons, even without a relatively intelligent kangaroo for contrast.

As such movies go, this one's fairly painless, with plenty of Australian scenery. Anderson makes the material seem funnier than it is, helping to compensate for O'Connell, who has the opposite effect. O'Connell is the Steve Guttenberg of the 21st century, an actor whose presence on the screen in leading roles defies rational explanation.