18th July 2020 Written by Peter Walkden
Paul Hogan is the legendary actor who won the world over after starring in the Australian film Crocodile Dundee (1986). During his career Paul Hogan also starred in many other well-known films, even returning as the Australian icon with two more Crocodile Dundee sequels. In the present day, the actor has drifted out of the spotlight and has somewhat gone dark after films such as Strange Bedfellows (2004), Charlie & Boots (2009) and other films in which Paul Hogan features in a cameo role.
Growing up as a kid I still remember seeing Crocodile Dundee II in cinemas, and I will never forget that cinematic moment in my life. In my household, both films were a big deal and we would have watched them on repeat viewings on my Beta cassette player.
This film follows the man himself dealing with many outrageous situations. But I must clarify that this is not a film based on real-life events or a film that follows the actor around in day to day life. This is simply a comedy movie with Paul Hogan being the leading character, playing the man himself. But things get out of control when Paul Hogan’s agent tells him that the queen has invited him to be knighted. It turns out the queen is a huge fan of the actor’s work and generally appreciates his previous achievements. At first, Paul Hogan is not interested but has a change of heart after speaking with his young granddaughter Lucy (Charlotte Stent).
When he accepts being knighted, his agent tells him to behave himself and not to get into any trouble with the press. But we all know what this means- trouble will soon find him at every turn. From this moment onwards the actor Paul Hogan finds himself inconsistent trouble, most cases through either a misunderstanding or even pure accident. Soon celebrities around him are also trying to help Paul Hogan get back on his feet, but no matter what he does he can never seem to catch a break. In most cases, characters who surround the leading man are over the top and entirely unrealistic, which only annoyed me while watching the film. One example of this is when Paul Hogan is being attacked by a group of children. We later see Paul Hogan’s reaction to this event and find out that the news is accusing him of causing the ruckus when in fact it was caused by the children. To my surprise, this film is loaded with cameos and well-known celebrities. In some cases, these celebrities are pretending to be themselves, or in rare instances, a famous personality appears, but they are another character. Actor Shane Jacobson appears in such a role, pretending to be a street performer. In most cases, these cameos are incredibly brief, so do not get your hopes up when you read the film’s poster and credits. Some of these pop-up cameos include Chevy Chase, Wayne Knight, Olivia Newton-John, John Cleese and many more.
The structure of the film is the same repeated method over and over until the final moments of the film. Paul Hogan finds himself in an awkward situation that is used for attempted laughs and then either the news comments about him on TV or he gets in trouble with his acting agent. It is regrettable to see there is nothing else happening in this film plot-wise. I guess in some moments it may seem exciting to see a famous character interacting with Paul Hogan, but in most cases, they feel pointless and forced other than to remind the world that Hogan is a celebrity. In the end, I genuinely feel each actor is doing their best given the source material in the script.
In many scenes, it also feels like Paul Hogan is the only real human on screen that is not silly and over the top. As you can tell in this review, I honestly did not enjoy this concept which is the primary factor for driving the whole film. The camera work is also questionable as the film feels shaky at times for no apparent reason, and the camera fails to hide critical aspects such as the use of a stunt double or when characters are using mobile phones. Minor issues but nevertheless they are entirely distracting.
Overall, with a title like The Very Excellent Mr Dundee, I am saddened to say that this is far from excellent. This is simply a disappointing film as it fails to bring a real purpose or reason to exist on the big screen. Celebrity cameos are exciting, but they are brief and serve no purpose within the film’s plot other than to try to relive some comedy moments that were once lived in Hollywood. I am genuinely a Dundee fan who is extremely disappointed by the results, and we now have an entry to contend for what could be the worst film of 2020.
The Very Excellent Mr Dundee is Available on DVD from August 11th!