The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course

If you love Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter but have always felt like a thief, a common thief, for watching him for free on TV, you’re in luck. Now you can go to a movie theater and PAY to watch his hilarious antics!

I said the same thing a week ago about “Powerpuff Girls,” and two weeks ago about “Hey, Arnold!” Why make a movie based on a TV show if you’re going to make it look like just another episode of the TV show?

“The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course,” to be fair, is only about half TV show. The other half is filled with a ridiculous and badly acted plot about a downed satellite whose data-containing “black box” has been lost in Australia, and the U.S. feds sent to retrieve it. The “collision course” of the title is that we know the box has been swallowed by a crocodile, which Steve and wife Terri are pursuing, so it’s only a matter of time before the Irwins meet up with the no-nonsense government agents.

It’s more than an hour into the film, in fact, before Steve and Terri interact with anyone other than their documentary crew. The movie switches back and forth a lot, and it’s easy to tell the difference: The government scenes are in a widescreen movie format, while the Crocodile Hunter scenes are in the TV-ratio format. That’s right folks, you don’t even get to see a widescreen version of Steve and his feats of derring-do.

Steve, an insane Australian idiot who trots the globe harassing animals, has an undeniable charm that is in full force here. In a way, it’s good no one tried to get him to act: His TV show is built around his natural curiosity and enthusiasm, so it’s probably best to get out of the way and let him just do his thing.

In fact, the scenes of Steve and Terri molesting snakes, spiders and crocodiles are the most entertaining in the film. (But again: You could watch this at home for free.) Everything else is, well, stupid, broadly acted by unknowns (except for Magda Szubanski, who played the farmer’s wife in “Babe”) and seemingly about half-aware of its own superfluousness.

There is an amusing fight between Steve and a wormy federal agent atop a speeding car. It is just like every other movie fight that takes place atop a speeding car except that in this case, one of the participants keeps looking at the camera and narrating the fight as though his opponent were an unusually incompetent form of wildlife. It’s nice to know the filmmakers wondered the same thing the rest of us do: Does Steve ALWAYS act like this, or only when he’s only out on assignment?

I cannot in good conscience recommend you spend money on a movie that ought to have stayed on TV, but if you’re such a die-hard Crocodile Hunter fan that you can’t pass it up, rest assured you will not be disappointed.

C+ (1 hr., 30 min.; PG, peril and one "damn".)