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Movie Review: The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee (2021) *No Spoilers*

One Sheet - The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee

I don't know if Paul Hogan agreed to do this just for the pay check, or he was just too busy calling in favors for all the cameos to maybe do a rewrite of the script, but Hoges almost puts Bruce Willis to shame in how phoned in his performance feels in The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee.

Which is a real shame because the premise of the movie looked very appealing when I first saw the trailer (it's taken me this long to get Amazon Prime Video so I could watch the film).

One Sheet for Dundee Tourism Fake Trailer
The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee
will make you wish even more
this pretend movie trailer
was a real film.

This movie actually makes you wish even more that Tourism Australia's Dundee - The Son of a Legend Returns Home was a real movie (better writing, better cinematography, better cameos of actors in actual roles, not just playing themselves).

In The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee Paul Hogan plays a fictional version of himself very loosely based on his actual life, in the sense that he's been out of the celebrity spotlight for years, living in Los Angeles, and is constantly being courted by studios wanting him to bring back Crocodile Dundee. 

From there the premise is, through a series of misadventures, Hoges inadvertently thrusts himself back into the spotlight, but not in a good way. Things get progressively worse as his misadventures continue.

In the process we're treated to a conga line of star cameos, with many people playing themselves either briefly or for an entire bit in the film - most notably, Chevy Chase and John Cleese both play versions of themselves as a kind of statement on their real lives.

There was real potential here for a much funnier movie. For me most of the jokes didn't land. Not even, necessarily because they weren't funny, it was just poor set up and execution.

For example, in one scene (from the trailer) there is a Crocodile Dundee Impersonator who, not only doesn't look much like Mick Dundee but also doesn't know the iconic 'That's a knife' line. 

Even if you accept the premise of this, the line is so well known he would be getting corrected on it multiple times a day. If he refused to believe his version is wrong, you can bet someone with YouTube on their phone would pull up the clip from the movie with the correct line.

There was, perhaps, a better opportunity to make some kind of commentary on even the impersonator getting so tired of the 'That's a knife' line.

Overall the story is a bunch of extremely flimsy misadventures that wraps up nicely thanks to some very thin B line story threads that tie it all together in a warm and fuzzy bow.

I only found myself truly engaged at one crucial 'will it or won't it' moment near the end of the film that turns everything around - I can't say more than that without spoiling one of the few good call backs in the movie.

I honestly felt like Paul just showed up for the pay check for this (assuming he got paid? If he didn't maybe he would've put more effort in for a pay check?). For most of the film he's playing the straight man to whatever is happening around him rather being an active participant, generating the comedy.

The film really needed some fresh Hogan comedy writing rather than relying on recycled jokes calling back to Paul's earlier films, as well as the star cameos.

It's not a great film and I think Hogan dodged a bullet not premiering the movie in cinemas - instead releasing it direct to streaming (thanks to the Pandemic delaying release and closing cinemas).

Maybe Paul doesn't really need to make movies any more, but if he is going to, I really wish he'd take more of an active role in writing the scripts. He's a legend for humor that's incredibly relatable and observant. More of that, less resting on past glory.

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