Osmosis Jones is one of the weirdest animated movies ever made. It tells the story of a white blood cell (voiced by Chris Rock) trying to save his human host from a deadly virus (Laurence Fishburne). In live-action scenes that are interspersed throughout, Bill Murray plays Frank, the human in question. He gets sicker and sicker as the movie goes on, thanks to the contaminated food he unwisely eats while working at a zoo.
Osmosis Jones is unique and imaginative in the way it portrays the human body. Frank's insides are depicted as a great big city with its own government, transportation system, and communities of cells, germs, and bacteria. Over the course of the story, our titular hero travels to virtually every part of Frank, from the brain to the bladder, from a mucous membrane to a zit. Puns abound as Osmosis Jones references an impressive number of parts of the human body.
Movies taking place inside a human body are nothing new. Fantastic Voyage and Innerspace did it first. Osmosis Jones does it differently, though, using animation to elevate the concept to its extreme. It's a trippy film, especially considering that it's aimed at children. If you've never seen this wacko masterpiece, or have forgotten just how bonkers it is, here's a recap of all the highlights.
The villain of Osmosis Jones is Thrax, a deadly virus intent on destroying Frank's body from the inside. He's a surprisingly gruesome villain for a movie that carries a PG rating. In fact, he's a repeat offender. Thrax's prized possession is a string of chromosomes taken from all of his previous sacrifices. That's right; he carries a piece of all the people he's offed - just like certain criminals with antisocial personality disorder.
Late in the film, he attempts to add a piece of Frank to his collection, but Osmosis is able to stop him.
There's so much mayhem going on in Osmosis Jones that you need to watch it several times to catch all the clever little jokes that quickly pass by. One of the best and weirdest comes during a scene in which Mayor Phlegmming walks toward his office, trailed by several reporters. They walk past a statue labeled "Our Founder."
Since all of this takes place inside Frank's body, the founder could only logically be one thing. Sure enough, the statue is of a sperm cell. It's a blink-and-you-miss-it joke, and while it's funny, it feels a little out of place in a kids' movie.
Right before the movie's third act, there is an extremely clever scene in which Osmosis journeys into Frank's subconscious. The area is visualized as a movie theater. As our hero enters, he sees movie posters for Frank's most disturbing dreams, including "Honey, I Forgot My Pants" and "Your Worst Nightmare," which features an image of his daughter Shane getting married to his slovenly co-worker Bob. Inside the theater, those dreams are projected on a screen. Osmosis watches one in which Frank is back in school, attempting to cheat on a test he didn't study for.
Meanwhile, Thrax makes his way into the "projection room," in which black-and-white images representing Frank's bad life experiences float across the air. After going through Frank's unnerving subconscious, Thrax says, "This cat was sick before I even got here."
This sequence almost wasn't included in the film. Producer Zak Penn told Animation World Network that it was difficult to explain in storyboard format, and the Farrelly brothers didn't initially get it. He fought for the concept, eventually winning the directors over. It is, by far, one of the most bizarre parts of Osmosis Jones.
Osmosis Jones is one of those movies that's funny as long as you don't think about it too much. If you do think about it, you realize the relationship between Frank and his daughter Shane is somewhat disturbing.
In almost every way, Shane is the parent. Frank is irresponsible, makes poor decisions, and doesn't care too much about his health, as is evidenced by his poor diet. In fact, he nearly dies from his illness, which is brought on by eating an egg that dropped on the ground at the zoo after being in a monkey's mouth. Shane warns him not to eat it, but he doesn't listen. Even worse, his method for treating the life-threatening illness is to consume copious amounts of alcohol. Taking care of someone as unhealthy as Frank is a lot of pressure to put on a young child like Shane.