Every year, plenty of bad movies get released theatrically, but only a precious few are so hideous and disastrously misguided that one wonders how they got made in the first place. If a worse motion picture than "The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course" sees the light of day in 2002, it will only be by sheer accident. Based on the popular Discovery Channel show, in which animal lover Steve Irwin and his wife Terri Irwin risk their lives as they encounter Australian wildlife, "Collision Course" is a putrid waste of 90 minutes that lacks even a rudimentary understanding of coherent filmmaking.
The ridiculous, overly complicated plot concerns a vital satellite beacon that falls from space and ends up being eaten by a crocodile in the Outback. Government agents, posing as poachers, set off in pursuit of it. Meanwhile, Steve and Terri (shot in a square, television aspect ratio) perform their usual shtick, talking directly to the camera, as they interact with deadly snakes, poisonous spiders, a harmless joey, and the title reptile. As they travel the area, they inexplicably get involved in the government's search when they unknowingly come across the crocodile that holds the beacon.
In adapting the documentary series into a fictional feature, director John Stainton and screenwriter Holly Goldberg Sloan could not have devised a more inane and dreadfully boring story if their life depended on it. Sloppily intercut between the Irwin couple's animal lessons are deadeningly dull patches in which the cartoonish government agents set out over the Australian landscape to track down the beacon. Meanwhile, a third story thread follows a burly redneck woman (Magda Szubanski) whose goals in life are to shoot a crocodile living in a nearby river and sic her barking canines on anyone who trespasses on her property.
There is not a single engaging character to be found throughout the movie's protracted duration, nor are there even any tolerably clever lines of dialogue or involving situations. In filming "The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course," director Stainton has gone beyond "bottom-of-the-barrel" and into the netherworlds of moviemaking hell. Sitting in a theater showing this picture is, coincidentally, like being trapped in Dante's Inferno.
Steve Irwin and Terri Irwin play themselves, which is to say that they do not act as much as they mug for the camera, spitting out cornball one-liners at a rate of roughly ten times per minute. While both parties are surely excited to be making their first feature film, they have forgotten to introduce anything new to the equation. The government agents are excruciatingly banal figures, and the no-name actors' level of performing would not pass muster in a grade school play.
Sitting through "The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course" is akin to watching an elongated episode of the cable program (which you can view for free in the privacy of your own home) with a god-awful plot thrown in that makes no sense, and bears no certain purpose. It is puerile, biodegradable trash that offends by taking up valuable celluloid space. Steve Irwin might mean well as a person with a soft spot for all animals of the world, but if there is any mercy in the universe, he will never make another movie as long as he lives. We, as the viewer, could only be so lucky.
©2002 by Dustin Putman