The film was panned by critics, who condemned the acting, directing and writing, especially for a film aimed at children. It received a rating of 8% on Rotten Tomatoes and grossed $88.1 million on a $60 million budget. Kangaroo Jack was released on DVD and VHS on June 24, 2003 by Warner Home Video. An animated sequel titled Kangaroo Jack: G'Day U.S.A.! was produced and released on video in 2004.
In 1982 Brooklyn, a boy named Charlie Carbone is about to become the stepson of a mobster named Salvatore Maggio. On that same day, he meets his new best friend Louis Booker, who saves him from drowning after the mobster's apprentice, Frankie Lombardo, who was recently released from juvenile hall, tried to drown Charlie.
Twenty years later, in 2002, Charlie now runs his own beauty salon and Louis still remains his best friend, but Sal's henchmen take a majority of the profit leaving Charlie very little for improvements. After they botch the job of hiding some stolen goods, resulting in some of Sal's men getting arrested, Sal gives Charlie and Louis one more chance. Under instructions from Frankie, they have to deliver a package to Australia to a man named Mr. Smith. Frankie also tells them that should they run into trouble, they should call Mr. Smith at the phone number he gives them. Unknown to Charlie and Louis, Sal tells his Capo that he is "canceling their return trip."
Once on the plane, Louis opens the package to find $50,000 in cash, realizing that is the package to give to Mr. Smith. Upon landing in Australia, they rent a Land Cruiser and head to Mr. Smith. On their way, they accidentally run over a kangaroo. Thinking it is dead, Louis puts his "lucky jacket" on the kangaroo and with Charlie's sunglasses for a joke, as they think the kangaroo looks like Jackie Legs, one of Sal's henchmen. The kangaroo then regains consciousness and hops away with one problem; the $50,000 was in the jacket. Charlie and Louis get into ther car and try to grab the money from the jacket on the kangaroo, but the ensuing chase ends with the duo running into a field of termite mounds and crashing into a pile of rocks.
At a nearby pub, Louis manages to call Mr. Smith and tell him about their situation. Mr. Smith tells Louis that they had better have his money when he meets them. He plans to find them himself. Back in New York City, Salvatore gets a call from Mr. Smith saying that Charlie and Louis haven't arrived yet. Salvatore sends Frankie and some men to Australia to investigate.
Meanwhile, another attempt and chase to reclaim the money from the kangaroo strands Charlie and Louis in the desert. They spend many hours wandering in the desert, during which Charlie has a crazy dream involving the kangaroo meeting him and talking to him, while Sal and Louis mock him in kangaroo forms. Later, Charlie and Louis meet and get help from a woman named Jessie. They then track the kangaroo at a nearby valley and try again to catch it, but their attempt again fails. While waiting for the next opportunity to catch the kangaroo, Charlie begins developing feelings for Jessie.
The next day, Mr. Smith and his henchmen arrive and capture the trio. Charlie and Louis outsmart them, only to find Frankie has tracked them and is prepared to kill them. Just as he is about to, the kangaroo suddenly returns, causing a distraction that allows Charlie, Louis and Jessie to escape on camels. A final chase ensues, with Charlie, Louis and Jessie chasing after the kangaroo while being pursued by Frankie and his goons. Louis eventually manages to retrieve the money from the kangaroo, but ends up nearly falling down a cliff, but is saved by Charlie. After getting the money back, they learn from Frankie that Sal really sent them to Australia to pay for their own execution, at the hands of Mr. Smith. Out of nowhere, police arrive and arrest Frankie, Mr. Smith and their henchmen. Charlie and Louis call each other true friends, and Charlie reclaims Louis's lucky jacket from the kangaroo, who hops away with his family.
One year later, Charlie and Jessie are married and sell their new shampoo, having used the payoff money to start up a line of hair care products (its sign features the kangaroo), while Louis becomes Charlie's advertising partner. Frankie and his men have been imprisoned for life, which Sal has failed at avoiding. As for the kangaroo (called "Kangaroo Jack"), he is still happily hopping around the outback.
Initially the film's screenplay was titled Down and Under and was described as a mafia comedy in the style of Midnight Run. The film was shot in Australia in August 2001, however when the producers saw test footage they realized that the film as it was cut did not work. Inspired by early test screenings and the marketing campaign behind the recently released Snow Dogs, the production shifted the marketing focus away from that of a mafia comedy movie to that of an animal picture. New footage was shot including replacing the animatronic kangaroo with a new CGI one and getting him to rap and the film was edited to be much more family friendly.
Kangaroo Jack was theatrically released on January 17, 2003 by Warner Bros..
Kangaroo Jack was released on DVD and VHS on June 24, 2003 by Warner Home Video.
The film was released on January 17, 2003 and grossed $16,580,209 over the 3-day MLK opening weekend, and $21,895,483 over the 4-day MLK weekend, ranking No. 1 that weekend. It grossed $66,934,963 at the North American domestic box office and $21,994,148 internationally for a worldwide total of $88,929,111. While Kangaroo Jack did a superb job at the box office, it was met with eminently scathing reviews from critics and audiences. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a rating of 8% based on 113 reviews, with an average score of 3.2 out of 10, Joe McGovern in the Village Voice described Kangaroo Jack as "witless" and stated "The colorless script...seems to have written itself from a patchwork of Wile E. Coyote cartoons, camel farts, and every high-pitched Aussie cliché to have echoed on these shores". Nathan Rabin, reviewing the film for The A.V. Club, remarked "Kangaroo Jack's premise, trailer, and commercials promise little more than the spectacle of two enthusiastic actors being kicked over and over again by a sassy, computer-animated kangaroo—and, sadly, the film fails to deliver even that." Gary Slaymaker in the British newspaper The Western Mail said "Kangaroo Jack is the most witless, pointless, charmless drivel unleashed on an unsuspecting public".
For their performances, Anthony Anderson and Christopher Walken were both nominated for Worst Supporting Actor at the 2004 Golden Raspberry Awards, but they lost to Sylvester Stallone for Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over. The Australian newspaper The Age included Kangaroo Jack on its list of "worst films ever made".
The soundtrack was released by Hip-O Records on January 14, 2003.
- DJ Ötzi - "Hey Baby"
- Sugababes - "Round Round"
- Soft Cell - "Tainted Love"
- Lucia - "So Clever"
- Paulina Rubio - "Casanova"
- Shaggy - "Hey Sexy Lady"
- Shawn Desman - "Spread My Wings"
- Lil' Romeo - "2-Way"
- The Wiseguys - "Start the Commotion"
- The Sugarhill Gang - "Rapper's Delight"
- Men at Work - "Down Under"
- The Dude - "Rock Da Juice"
An animated sequel, Kangaroo Jack: G'Day U.S.A.!, was released direct-to-video on November 16, 2004.