Osmosis Jones is a 2001 American live-action/animated buddy cop comedy film directed by Tom Sito and Piet Kroon for the animated segments and the Farrelly brothers for the live-action ones. Unusual in this genre, the animated characters are inside the live-action ones: the film is set in a fictionalized version of the human body which resembles a large city, where micro-organisms or any being based in organisms are anthropomorphic and centers on Frank Detorre, a slovenly zookeeper. Osmosis Jones, a white blood cell, teams up with Drix, a cold pill, against Thrax, a deadly virus who plans to kill Frank in forty-eight hours and other characters living within him.
It met with mixed reviews, and was a box office bomb, earning $14 million against a budget of $70 million. Despite the lack of accolades, the film sold well in home media. It also served as the pilot to the television 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 a different body.
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).
Osmosis "Ozzy" Jones (Chris Rock) is a rebellious officer of the Frank PD, who was demoted to patrol duty in the mouth after an incident where he induced Frank to vomit against orders (after being the only one to see a salmonella germ on an oyster Frank consumed), resulting in Frank being fired from his previous job at a pea soup factory and banned from visiting Shane's school due to a restraining order filed by her science teacher, Mrs. Boyd (Molly Shannon), who'd he'd accidentally vomited on in the process.
Facing a serious 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 suppressant though 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. Meanwhile, Thrax assumes leadership of a gang of sweat germs and launches an attack on the mucus dam in Frank's nose, nearly killing Drix before Ozzy rescues him. The two pay a visit to one of Ozzy's informants, who reveals Thrax's plan to pose as a mere cold virus as a cover for killing Frank with a high fever in order to become the next big virus in the medical records. Based on his information, 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 kill most of Thrax's henchmen with a grenade. The explosion pops a zit on Frank's forehead during a meeting with Mrs. Boyd, 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 eliminates his remaining henchmen and breaks into the hypothalamus gland (the portion of the brain that controls body temperature), where he steals a DNA bead. He then abducts the Mayor's secretary, Leah Estrogen (Brandy Norwood), and flees to the mouth to escape. His actions disable the body's ability to regulate temperature, causing the city to break out in flames and panic. As Frank is taken to the hospital in a fever coma, Ozzy and Drix reconcile and proceed to rescue Leah. They succeed, but Thrax is able to exit the mouth using pollen as a distraction. Ozzy pursues him to the surface of Shane's left eye, and as they fight they both 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 vessel 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 his body and replaces the missing chromosome, 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 a custodian in the bowels, and later ejects himself by accidently pushing a button that triggers Frank's flatulence.
Animation voice cast
Chris Rock as Osmosis "Ozzy" Jones, an urban, overzealous blue and white blood cell and the main protagonist of the film with little respect for authority. Since he was discredited, he was suspended for unnecessary force and placed in out-of-the-way patrols. Therefore, he seizes any opportunity to be able to make a difference. He is able to combine his eyes into one, to ooze through narrow spaces like cracks and under doors, and to contort his body.
Laurence Fishburne as Thrax, a tall, extremely virulent, pathogenic agent and the main antagonist of the film. Thrax is referred to as "The Red Death" (a common nickname for the ebola virus) but does not appear to cause an existing disease, although he claims loudly, "Ebola is a case of dandruff compared to me!", and has killed numerous people before arriving in Frank. He carries a chain consisting of numerous chromosomes removed from other victims' hypothalamus as a trophy. His left index finger is a long claw, which can melt the cellular equivalent of steel, consume cells and other viruses in flames, and alter the properties of other cells. His name is a play on the bacteria anthrax.
David Hyde Pierce as Drixenol "Drix" Koldreliff, a stoic cold pill who becomes Ozzy's best friend. His right arm is a cannon used to shoot an assorted variety of medication, including one that freezes any target. He is a follower of written rules and compensates for his doubts of himself by acting haughtily. He is intelligent, clever, and dedicated to work. Straight-laced and by-the-book, he is in disagreement with the crude humor and unorthodox methods of Ozzy, but respects Ozzy as a partner due to his dedication to fighting diseases.
Brandy Norwood as Leah Estrogen, Mayor Phlegmming's secretary and Ozzy's love interest, greatly relied upon by him for her skills. She is one of few inhabitants of Frank who realize the flaws of the current administration and one of the few willing to believe Osmosis' claims of a large-scale infection. Her name has the word Estrogen which is a hormone mostly present in female people but can be present in males as well.
William Shatner as Mayor Phlegmming, the short, overweight, and self-centered mayor of the "City of Frank". He is constantly preoccupied with everything but his job, except when it concerns planning his re-election. His name is a pun on the word phlegm.
Ron Howard as Tom Colonic, Phlegmming's rival for the mayoralty of the City of Frank. His political platform is diametrically opposed to the incumbent's, instead promoting less junk food and a healthier "City of Frank". His manner and attitude appears to be modeled after President John F. Kennedy. His name represents an organ called the colon.
Joel Silver as the Police Chief, Ozzy's boss who works at the precinct.
Bill Murray as Frank Detorre (a.k.a. Downtown Frank) - a widower in his 40s who works as a zookeeper. He is prone to eating junk food, behaves laconically, and has minimal concern for his health. The animated part of the film takes place inside his body.
Elena Franklin as Shane Detorre - Frank's 10-year-old daughter. Due to her father's shortcomings, his health is very important to her. She has become somewhat depressed after her mother's death, and as a result her relationships with other people are suffering.
Molly Shannon as Mrs. Boyd - Shane's science and P. E. teacher. Having had her reputation and those of her three children ruined after her embarrassment by a vomiting accident Frank caused due to a misunderstanding about oyster consumption, she has a 200-yard restraining order against him to prevent any further embarrassment.
Chris Elliott as Bob Detorre - Frank's brother. After Frank got fired from his oyster vomiting incident, Bob hired him at his zoo.
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. Will Smith was interested in the part, but in the end his schedule didn't permit it.
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 crude 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 the police station locker room, and a sperm is seen in the mayor's building as a statue with a plaque on the stand underneath with the words "OUR FOUNDER".
In an earlier "cut" of the film, Osmosis 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:
Osmosis and Drix visit the eyes, while Drix complains that he has to visit the nose and the throat. Osmosis 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 Osmosis 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 him leap from his car and glide away. After Osmosis takes the wrong turn, he takes a "shortcut" to there by way of the esophagus, riding a massive, acidic belch up the throat (a reference to the 1991 classic Thelma & Louise). He 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 doctor to have some blood removed, possibly in a blood drive. The needle drew out all of Osmosis' relatives, leaving him all alone. This would have added to his "loneliness" in the film. The ending has Frank getting a blood transfusion to save his life, with his own prior blood. Thus Osmosis' relatives would have returned, 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 deleted so as to cut time was one where it showed how Phlegmming got kicked out of the office. In the final cut it's assumed that he was impeached or 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 he 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).
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 originally rated PG-13 for "crude language" and "bodily humor" in 2000. Warner Bros. edited the film to make it family-friendly, and in 2001 the film was re-rated PG for "bodily humor".