'Osmosis Jones' Is A Fever Dream Of A Movie
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 Bad Guy Is Incredibly Intense
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 A Bizarre Statue Of Frank's 'Founder'
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.
Frank's Subconscious Is Literal Nightmare Fuel
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.
There's A Disturbing Father/Daughter Relationship At The Center
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.
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.