Osmosis Jones is a 2001 live-action/animated comedy film directed by Tom Sito and Piet Kroon for the animated segments and the Farrelly Brothers for the live-action segments. Unusual in this genre, the live-action characters never meet the animated characters.
The film is set in a fictionalized version of the human body, where micro-organisms or any being based in organisms, are anthropomorphic. The film centers on Frank Detorre (Bill Murray), a slovenly zookeeper. Osmosis Jones, is a White blood cell who teams up with a cold pill Drix, to thwart Thrax, a deadly virus, who plans to kill Frank within a matter of hours, which would also kill the other characters living within him.
Osmosis Jones was released on August 10, 2001 in North America. The film met with mixed reviews. Having been a box office bomb, it earned over $14 million worldwide, with its budget being $70 million.
Despite the lack of accolades, Osmosis Jones sold well in home media. It spawned an animated series, Ozzy & Drix, which aired on Kids WB from 2002 to 2004, albeit being completely animated and more emphasis on Osmosis and Drix's partnership in another body. Limited merchandise was created due to the film's financial failure.
Frank Detorre (Bill Murray) is an unkempt, slovenly zookeeper at the Sucat Memorial Zoo in Rhode Island. Depressed by the loss of his wife years earlier, he copes by unhealthy eating and ignoring basic hygiene, to the annoyance of his young daughter Shane (Elena Franklin).
Inside the body, Osmosis "Ozzy" Jones (Chris Rock) is a rebellious white blood cell officer of the Frank PD, who was fired from his job working in the kidneys and was demoted to patrol duty in the mouth after an incident at the science fair where he caused Frank to accidentally vomit on Shane's science and P.E. teacher, Mrs. Boyd (Molly Shannon). Facing a challenge to his re-election prospects, Mayor Phlegmming (William Shatner) doubles down on his junk-food policies, ignoring their effect on Frank's health. This causes Frank to eat a boiled egg covered in filth, allowing Thrax (Laurence Fishburne), a deadly virus, to enter the throat. Unwilling to admit responsibility, Phlegmming instructs Frank to take a cold pill through brain signals. The suppressant, Drixenol "Drix" Koldreliff (David Hyde Pierce), proceeds to disinfect the throat, covering up any evidence of Thrax's arrival. To his displeasure, Ozzy is subsequently assigned to assist Drix in his investigation.
Thrax assumes leadership of a gang of sweat germs and launches an attack on the mucus dam in Frank's nose, nearly killing Ozzy and Drix before Frank inhales them into the sinuses. Based on information from one of his informants, Ozzy goes undercover at a nightclub intending to infiltrate Thrax's gang, only to be discovered and forced to call in Drix, who manages to destroy the club and presumably kill Thrax with a grenade. The explosion pops a zit on Frank's forehead during a meeting with Mrs. Boyd which lands on her lip, ruining any chance for him to apologize. In response, Phlegmming closes the investigation, fires Ozzy and orders Drix to leave the city.
Having survived the assault, Thrax breaks into the hypothalamus gland and steals a DNA bead from a chromosome. His actions disable the body's ability to regulate temperature, causing the city to break out in flames and panic. He kidnaps the Mayor's secretary, Leah Estrogen (Brandy), and flees to the mouth to escape. As Frank is taken to the hospital in a fever coma, Ozzy and Drix reconcile and proceed to rescue Leah, but Thrax escapes using pollen to make Frank sneeze him out. Ozzy pursues him to the surface of Shane's left eye, and as they fight they land on Shane's left false eyelash when she blinks. As Thrax has Ozzy pinned down, he threatens to break his own record by killing Shane but gets stuck in the false eyelash; Ozzy escapes at the last minute before the eyelash slides off and lands in a cup of alcohol, dissolving Thrax to death.
As Frank's temperature goes over 108 degrees, his heart begins to shut down. Riding one of Shane's tears, Ozzy reenters Frank's body with Thrax's necklace of DNA beads, reviving him just in time. Having narrowly cheated death, Frank commits himself to living a healthier lifestyle for himself and Shane, while Ozzy is re-instated to the force with Drix as his new partner, and begins a relationship with Leah. Phlegmming later loses his position as mayor, is reduced to working as a custodian in the bowels, and accidentally ejects himself by pushing a button that triggers Frank's flatulence.
- Bill Murray as Frank Detorre; The animated part of the film takes place inside his body, which is referred to by the cells as "the City of Frank"
- Elena Franklin as Shane Detorre, Frank's 10-year-old daughter
- Molly Shannon as Mrs. Boyd, Shane's science and P.E. teacher
- Chris Elliott as Bob Detorre, Frank's brother and Shane's uncle
Animation voice cast
- Chris Rock as Osmosis "Ozzy" Jones, an overzealous blue and white blood cell with little respect for authority
- Laurence Fishburne as Thrax, a tall, extremely virulent, pathogenic agent
- David Hyde Pierce as Drixenol "Drix" Koldreliff, a stoic cold pill who becomes Ozzy's best friend.
- Brandy Norwood as Leah Estrogen, Mayor Phlegmming's secretary and Ozzy's love interest
- William Shatner as Mayor Phlegmming, the self-centered mayor of the "City of Frank"
- Ron Howard as Tom Colonic, Phlegmming's rival for the mayoralty of the City of Frank
- Joel Silver (uncredited) as the police chief, Ozzy's boss
- Steve Susskind as Mob Germ Boss
- Carlos Alazraqui as Spanish germ
- Antonio Fargas as Chill
- Rodger Bumpass as Announcer for Nerve News Network / Joe Cramp
- Paul Christie as Dan Matter / Germ
- Richard Steven Horvitz as Male Red Blood Cell
- Kid Rock as Kidney Rock
- Joe C. as Kidney Rock
- James Arnold Taylor as Coffee Holding White Blood Cell
- Herschel Sparber as Bruiser
- Eddie Barth as Conductor
- Robert Wisdom as Big Germ
- Danny Mann as Musician Cell
- Paul Pape as Male Red Blood Cell #2
- Al Rodrigo as the Frank Police Department walkie talkie
- Doug Stone as police officer with big germ, Jamie, A police officer of Frank Police Department who broke his neck, arm, and leg due to Ozzy, and Germ #2
- Anne Lockhart as Female Red Blood Cell
- Jansen Panettiere (uncredited) as Billy, a kid who is friends with Tom Colonic
- Jonathan Adams as Tom, A police officer of Frank Police Department who broke his arm just like Jamie due to Ozzy
- Billy West (uncredited) as Collin, Ozzy's helicopter pilot
- "Stuttering" John Melendez as Artie, a janitor of the City Of Frank who was kidnapped by Thrax
- Sherry Lynn as Trudy McCartney, a news reporter for Nerve News Network who works with Dan Matter
- Liz Callaway as Female Cell
- Chris Phillips as Doug, A Firefighter who is a close friend of Ozzy
- Donald Fullilove as Doughnut
- Rif Hutton as Charlie, one of Thrax's minions
- Mickie McGowan as a Librarian
- Eddie Frierson as a Police Officer of Frank Police Department
Osmosis Jones went through development hell during production. The animated sequences, directed by Tom Sito and Piet Kroon, went into production as planned, but acquiring both a director and a star actor for the live-action sequences took a considerable amount of time, until Bill Murray was cast as the main character of Frank, and Peter and Bobby Farrelly stepped in to direct the live-action sequences. As part of their contract, the Farrelly brothers are credited as the primary directors of the film, although they did no supervision of the animated portions of the film.
Osmosis Jones opened on August 10, 2001 in 2,305 theaters worldwide. Upon its original release, the film lost a considerable amount of money, and was the second-to-last production for Warner Bros.' feature traditional animation department (following The Iron Giant, and followed by Looney Tunes: Back in Action, which both also lost money upon their original releases). The movie opened at #7 in its first opening weekend at the U.S. box office, accumulating $5,271,248 on its opening week while earning $2,286. The film soon grossed $13,596,911.
Osmosis Jones received mixed reviews from film critics.
Based on 108 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 55% of critics gave the film positive reviews, with an average rating of 5.5/10.
At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 57 based on 28 reviews. The animated parts of Osmosis Jones were praised for their plot and fast pace, in contrast with the criticized live action segments, with Rotten Tomatoes' consensus of the film stating, "The animated portion of Osmosis is zippy and fun, but the live-action portion is lethargic."
Robert Koehler of Variety praised the film for its animated and live-action segments intervening, claiming it to be "the most extensive interplay of live action and animation since Who Framed Roger Rabbit".
The New York Times wrote "the film, with its effluvia-festival brand of humor, is often fun, and the rounded, blobby rendering of the characters is likable. But the picture tries too hard to be offensive to all ages. I suspect that even the littlest viewers will be too old for that spit."
Roger Ebert gave the film 3 stars out of 4. The use of toilet humor in Osmosis Jones, as done in most films directed by the Farrelly brothers, was widely criticized. As such, Lisa Alspector of Chicago Reader described the film as a "cathartically disgusting adventure movie".
Maitland McDonagh of TV Guide praised the film's animation and its glimpse of intelligence although did criticize the humor as being "so distasteful".
Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly felt that the film had a diverse premise as it "oscillates between streaky black comedy and sanitary instruction", however the scatological themes were again pointed out. Jonathan Foreman of New York Post claimed Osmosis Jones to have generic plotting, saying that "It's no funnier than your average grade-school biology lesson and less pedagogically useful than your typical Farrelly brothers comedy."
Chris Hewitt of Miami Times described Chris Rock's, Brandy Norwood's and Laurence Fishburne's voice work as Osmosis, Leah and Thrax respectively as "classy" although considered the film to be politically correct as all three of these actors are African-American. Michael Sragow of Baltimore Sun praised David Hyde Pierce's performance as Drix, claiming him to be "hilarious" and "a take-charge dose of medicine". Despite of the mixed reviews, the film received numerous Annie award nominations including Best Animated Feature (losing to Shrek)
Footage cut from the final film
- In the original script and in early cuts of the film, a scene was featured when Osmosis and Drix go to the Gonad's Gym. It involved them talking to the "exercising" sperm cells. The scene was cut in order to stay family friendly. The Gonad's Gym logo does appear on Drix's suitcase during a scene in police station locker room.
- In an earlier "cut" of the film, Ozzy and Drix visit an amusement park behind Frank's eye, called "See World". A sign advertising the latter can still be seen near Frank's <stomach, which functions as the "arrivals" terminal of an airport.
- The DVD release contains three extended (and half-animated) scenes, all of which appear in cut-down form in the final edit:
- Drix and Jones visit the eyes, while Drix complains that he has to visit the nose and the throat. Jones gets doughnuts and calls the information desk on his 'cell' phone while at the eyes.
- Frank picks his nose during the dam-bursting sequence, and Jones saves Drix from ending up on Frank's fingertip. In the end, they are inhaled into the sinuses.
- The race to catch Thrax on his way to the uvula is extended; we see Thrax leap from his car and glide away. After Jones takes the wrong turn, he takes a "shortcut" to the uvula by way of the esophagus, riding a massive, acidic belch up the throat (A reference to the 1991 classic Thelma & Louise). Osmosis says "What the hell is a uvula?" It was later edited from hell to heck.
- A draft of the script reveals that Osmosis, as a young boy, went to a family reunion. At that time Frank went to the doctors to have some blood removed, possibly in a blood drive. The needle drew out all of Ozzy's relatives, apparently leaving him all alone. This would have add to his "loneliness" in the film. The ending has Frank getting a blood transfusion to save his life, with his own prior blood. Thus Ozzy's family and relatives would have returned to Frank, in a parody of the abductees returning in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This was detailed in the film's commentary.
- Another scene that was canceled so as to cut time was a scene where it showed how Phlegmming got kicked out of office. In the final cut it's assumed that he was impeached or that he simply lost his run for re-election but in a deleted scene he realizes all of his mistakes and willingly resigns thus putting Tom Colonic in office. This explains how he lost office at the film's end. This was supposed to connect with a scene when Phlegmming sees the city going up in flames and sheds a tear upon realizing all that he has done has caused Frank's near-destruction (this scene being left in the final cut).
Pop culture references
- During Frank's near death experience, a group of street performers play "Nearer, My God, to Thee", symbolizing the apparent end of Frank. The group's leader who resembles Wallace Hartley remarks, "Gentlemen, playing with you has been the greatest pleasure of my life," before playing one final stanza. In the film Titanic, the ship's orchestral quartet does the same (mirroring the actions of the ship's band on the historical Titanic). Mayor Phlegmming's scene of shedding a tear at realizing he has doomed everyone in Frank also parallels Titanic's captain Edward Smith and builder Thomas Andrews, both of whom went down with the ship.
- When Drix is introducing ndhouse kick and Jones bends down to duck, the scene freezes and the camera swivels around the two in trademark Matrix style. In addition, Thrax wears a long black coat and sunglasses as the Matrix characters do.
- In the scene where Jones stops Drix from leaving Frank, one of the germs is holding a Pikachu.
- The line that Osmosis sings in the scene after The Zit explodes ("My name is what, my name is who, my name is ah! Osmosis Jones") is from the song "My Name Is" by Eminem.
- At The Zit, the band Ozzy and Drix see is called Kidney Rock. It is a parody of rapper Kid Rock and his back-up band, including rapper Joe C., who died nearly a year before the release of this movie.
- The movie makes a reference to a "National Buffalo Wing Festival" in Buffalo, New York. The event did not exist at the time. Buffalo resident Drew Cerza, upon seeing the movie, decided to organize a real-life National Buffalo Wing Festival, which has been held in Buffalo annually since 2002.
- When Osmosis calls the information desk for the translation of "muerte rojo," mentioned by the sole survivor of the crashed saliva boat that caused the destruction, he was told that it was Spanish for "red death." This could very well be a reference to Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" as well as saying that the fictional disease from the story is the same as Thrax.
- In one scene a poster is shown that says "peace in the middle ear".
There was very little merchandising for the film. Trendmasters planned on releasing a toy line of the characters from the film (including but not limited to action figures, "flingable "snot" and the like). However, they claimed they would only release the toys if the film exceeded $65 million at the box office. Unfortunately, the film failed to do so and the toys were never released. One of a few products released was a video game based on the series Ozzy & Drix. Hats, posters, soundtracks and presskits for the film can be found on eBay.
A soundtrack containing hip hop and R&B music was released on August 7, 2001 by Atlantic Records. The soundtrack failed to make it to the Billboard charts, but Trick Daddy's single "Take It to da House" managed to make it to 88 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
Osmosis Jones was rated PG-13 in 2000, but in 2001 the film was re-rated PG for "bodily humor." The reason why was to delete certain scenes and make the film more family-friendly.