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'Osmosis Jones' Is A Fever Dream Of A Movie

Updated September 27, 2019 250.6k views13 items

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 Movie Is Chock Full Of Under-The-Radar Jokes

    Upon first watching Osmosis Jones, viewers tend to notice the obvious jokes, especially the ones designed to earn gross-out laughs. Watch it again, though, and you'll start to spot all kinds of weird jokes hiding in the background or around the edges of scenes.

    For instance, there's a brief shot of a character reading something similar to a Playboy magazine, except that instead of a nude woman, the centerfold features a DNA strand. In another scene, Osmosis walks through an X-ray machine, and we can see his weapon through the monitor. Look closely at the sailor walking through the device behind him, and you'll see it betrays the fact that he's wearing women's underwear. Later on, we learn that Shane's teacher has two sons named Ralph and Chuck. Those are, of course, slang terms for vomiting. This is a callback to the fact that Frank throws up on the teacher at one point.

    There are dozens of other under-the-radar jokes you can catch if you're alert.

  • It Has An Abundance Of Gross-Out Humor

    Despite carrying a mild PG rating, Osmosis Jones contains an awful lot of gross-out humor. The tone is set within the first two minutes when we see a monkey at the zoo scratching its rear end, followed by Frank doing the same thing. Later, after a mucous membrane bursts inside his body, Frank appears with snot dripping out of his nose, which he soon after snorts back up.

    Those are mild compared to two other outrageous scenes. In one, Frank eats a bad clam and ends up vomiting all over his daughter's teacher. In the other, a massive zit on his face pops, sending pus shooting onto the same teacher's lip. Granted, bodily fluids are essential to the movie because it's a film about human anatomy, but this reliance on gross-out jokes was deemed offensive by some critics and parents. 

  • The Mayor Is More Concerned With Re-Election Than His City's Health

    Mayor Phlegmming is, for all intents and purposes, the one running Frank from the inside. You can think of him as Frank's conscience or inner voice. Because of this, he should, theoretically, make good choices that will keep Frank healthy.

    The movie portrays him quite differently, though. The Mayor is up for re-election, and holding onto his position seems to be of much greater concern to him than his host's welfare. He's not unlike the mayor in Jaws, who insists on keeping the beach open for the Fourth of July weekend despite a shark roaming the waters. Mayor Phlegmming causes Frank to amp up his consumption of unhealthy foods, which only makes him sicker. This lack of care for his "city" proves what a weak leader he is. 

  • Chris Rock's Voiceover 'Flub' Was Left In

    Just over an hour into the movie, there's a scene in which Osmosis Jones is called into the office of his commanding officer. Upon entering, he sees the Mayor's assistant Leah, who is voiced by pop singer Brandy. 

    Surprised to see her, Osmosis blurts out, "Brandy! I mean, Leah! What are you doing here?" According to the DVD commentary, Chris Rock was given free rein to improvise any crazy thing he wanted to say. One of those improvs was this "flub," which the filmmakers thought was funny enough to leave in.