Home > Reviews > CROCODILE DUNDEE IN LOS ANGELES – Basil Poledouris


crocodiledundeeinlosangelesOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Paul Hogan must have had an especially large electric bill last year – otherwise why on Earth would he resurrect his now rather dated character Crocodile Dundee for a third outing, 13 years after the first sequel. Hogan said, in defense of his movie, that he thought people might be interested in where “Mick had been for the last decade; what had happened to him and his life”. Well, flogging a dead horse is one thing, if it makes a buck or two for the people involved, I have nothing against shameless capitalism. But Crocodile Dundee has no redeeming features  – its not funny, its not very interesting and, worst of all, its not even particularly well made.

The wafer-thin plot – credited to Matthew Berry and Eric Abrams – sees Dundee heading off to the City of Angels with his wife Sue (Linda Kozlowski) and 10-year old son Mikey (Serge Cockburn) after she is called in to help run a newspaper agency. Finding himself bored and not having any crocodiles to wrestle, Mick and Mikey start to sample the slightly more surreal aspects of Southern California, eventually finding himself knee-deep in the shady activities of a bogus film company headed by the nefarious Arnan Rothman (Jere Burns), who seems to be using the studio as a front for an international smuggling ring. And that’s your lot. It’s a basic, straightforward no-brainer, and provides Hogan with plenty of scope to do his usual bumpkin schtick as he foils muggers, knifes mechanical snakes, discusses coffee colonics with George Hamilton, and engages in new-age banter with Mike Tyson in a suburban park. No, really.

I think I laughed once in this movie, and that was because I couldn’t believe how slapdash the whole affair was. There was one slightly surreal moment when the film showed a scene filmed on Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, less than five yards from the movie theatre where I was watching the film, and right outside Pyramid Records, where I had been soundtrack-shopping half an hour previously. It’s an indication that something is wrong when an incident like that represents the movie’s high point.

It’s plainly obvious that Basil Poledouris scored Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles as a personal favor for director Simon Wincer, with whom Poledouris worked on Lonesome Dove, Free Willy, Quigley Down Under and others. Poledouris has had a quiet couple of years – his last major feature prior to this was For Love of the Game back in September 1999. He hasn’t really lost his touch, but he was obviously uninspired by this movie, and ended up composing one of his flattest and most bland scores in recent memory. The film seems strangely naked without Peter Best’s catchy guitar main title, and although Poledouris’s replacement is a fun coagulation of orchestra, synth, guitars and didgeridoo, it lacks the sparkle and energy that made Best’s original so memorable.

The underscore itself is generally uninspiring, with a few decent acoustic guitar-driven sequences (notably the two tender ‘Walking with Mikey’ cues) and rock numbers (‘Croc Eats the Boat’, ‘Jacco Show and Tell/The Big Nanny’) standing out from a bed of bland synth-and-string strains. ‘Spider/Spider in Hat’ is a peculiar comedy sequence with synths programmed to make odd squeaking noises; some tribal percussion pops up here and there to elaborate on the geographical juxtaposition between the outback and the urban jungle. Even the action music suffers from terminal underachievement, with cues like ‘Eraser Rat/Monkey Wrangler’ and the supposed big set-piece ‘Up the Ladder/Into the Jungle’ presenting little more than ticking synthesisers and percussion loops. Only during the conclusive ‘Proposal/Wedding Day’ does the orchestra make any kind of pertinent statement, but by then its too little too late.

The album is rounded off with four pop songs, one of which – ‘Down Under’ by Aussie rockers Men At Work – was a favorite of mine in the early Eighties. It receives the remix treatment here, courtesy of Cecilia Noël and the Wild Clams, but I still get a kick out of the Antipodean in-jokes and unconventional pennywhistle refrain (replaced by a bed of brass here). Vegemite sandwich indeed. You’d better run, you’d better take cover.

I’m sure some people will like Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, both film and score. Sadly, I am not one of them. Having grown accustomed to Poledouris being one of the premier composers in Hollywood throughout the 80s and 90s, it is rather distressing to see him relegated to scoring TV-movies and stupid sequels such as this. I know he’s taking a sabbatical and enjoying himself, but surely he ought to maintain his standards. Ford Thaxton and the Silva guys have put together a colorful package which will stand out from the record shop shelves, but to an old hand like me, the whole product is too underwhelming to make any kind of statement, and makes me wonder why they bothered at all.

Rating: **

Track Listing:

  • Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles – Main Title (2:40)
  • Croc Sinks the Boat/Croc Eats the Boat/Swimming/Mystical Mick (1:43)
  • Hypnotize the Pig/Walking with Mikey/Beverly Hills (2:00)
  • Spider/Spider in Hat (0:52)
  • Studio Gate/Jungle Set (0:36)
  • Walking with Mikey #2/Mickey, Mick and Sue (1:40)
  • Eraser Rat/Monkey Wrangler (1:04)
  • Jacco Show and Tell/The Big Nanny/Dine and Drive/Down the Stairwell/L.A. Thing (3:36
  • Paintings/Clue Snoop/Who the Hell is That? (3:14)
  • Up the Ladder/Into the Jungle (4:37)
  • Molotov Cocktail/Lions (2:59)
  • Proposal/Wedding Day (3:07)
  • Down Under (written by Colin Hay, performed by Men at Work featuring Cecilia Noël and the Wild Clams) (4:46)
  • Strike It Up (written by Nelson Cruz, Daniele Divoli, Mirko Limoni, Oscar Pabon, Valerio Semplici and Allan Speers, performed by Black Box) (5:15)
  • Mr. Big Talker (written by Michael Tyler and Samuel C. Lindley, performed by Mystikal) (4:00)
  • Boys From The Bush (written by Lee Kernaghan and Garth Porter, performed by Lee Kernaghan) (2:47)

Running Time: 44 minutes 53 seconds

Silva America SSD-1130 (2001)

Music composed and conducted by Basil Poledouris. Orchestrations by Steven Scott Smalley. Recorded and mixed by Tim Boyle. Edited by Tom Villano. Mastered by James Nelson. Album produced by Basil Poledouris, Mi Kyoung Chiang, Tim Boyle and Ford A. Thaxton.

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