Osmosis Jones (2001) is a part animated, part live action film whose title character is Osmosis Jones, an anthropomorphic white blood cell. Unusual for this genre, the live action characters and cartoon characters never meet. The live action characters are people as they appear in the real world, and the animated characters are the cells and germs which live inside a man named Frank, whom the story concerns. A Saturday morning cartoon spinoff, Ozzy & Drix, aired on Kids WB from 2002 to 2004, and featured Osmosis Jones and his friend Drix inside a new body.
Frank is a slovenly zookeeper
. Much to the frustration of his young daughter Shane, he eats and drinks compulsively
and has no regard for germs
. In the opening scene, Frank consumes an egg that he recovers from the filth and straw of the chimpanzees
' enclosure, where it landed after the chimp stole the egg from his hand and Frank pried it from the ape's mouth, much to Shane's disgust and stern protestation. Frank cites the "ten second rule
" as justification for the blatantly unsanitary act.
Inside Frank's body, the story unfolds. Osmosis Jones, a former agent of Immunity (Frank's immune system) is a hot-blooded, adventure-seeking white blood cell. He is a rebel cop, rarely doing what his chief--or anyone else--tells him to do. He was relocated to the mouth to fight against germs just entering the body via ingestion following an incident during which he induced Frank to vomit all over Shane's teacher, which was considered a false alarm because he had been the only one to suspect an incoming pathological threat. After several newcomer Germs--believed to be gingivitis--hijack a "squad car" in the mouth, Osmosis Jones and his senior partner, who is piloting their helicopter, are sucked into the lungs by a massive yawn while in pursuit, which was brought on by a lack of sleep for Frank. Even after the germs evade capture and pass into "Immunity's" jurisdiction, Jones disobeys direct orders and continues the pursuit on foot. Naturally, the end result is not good: the criminals escape and Jones accidentally triggers a major cramp in Frank's leg.
Meanwhile, Mayor Phlegmming is preparing for re-election, campaigning with the promise of more junk food (much to the joy of the citizens in the Love Handle District). The Mayor's reckless policies are largely responsible for Frank's deteriorating health. However, his re-election hopes are complicated by the arrival of Thrax, a deadly virus that came in with the egg. In an attempt to cover up the severity of the situation, Phlegmming tells Frank to take a cold pill. The pill, Drix (short for Drixenol), arrives in the body and covers Frank's infected throat with a disinfectant to cover the irritation. Osmosis Jones is assigned as Drix's partner, much to his chagrin. Soon, they unravel Thrax's plot to masquerade as the common cold while at the same time plotting to overheat Frank's body, killing him from the inside. Thrax is motivated by a desire to become the nastiest new virus, attempting to kill each new victim faster than the previous. His grandiose plan for Frank is death within 48 hours, breaking previous medical records.
Osmosis and Drix confront Thrax in one of Frank's zits. Drix launches a grenade of medication at Thrax and his cronies, popping the skin blemish, and seemingly ending Thrax's siege. To hide the truth, Phlegmming forces Drix to leave and fires Osmosis, who both insist that Thrax was more than the common cold. The heroic duo's prediction rings true as Thrax was able to survive the explosion and decides to launch a singlehanded assault on Frank's hypothalamus by disabling its self-regulative capabilities. However, soon after does so, Leah Estrogen, the mayor's secretary and Ozzy's love interest throughout the movie, discovers his work and alerts security. Thrax manages to evade them, and taking Leah hostage, escapes from the brain to the mouth to escape Frank before he dies.
Frank is taken to the hospital due to Thrax's attack. Ozzy rescues Leah and fights Thrax directly, where Thrax leaves Frank's mouth. Ozzy is launched out after him by Drix. During this time Frank goes into cardiac arrest. Thrax and Ozzy end up on one of Shane's false eyelashes, which she was wearing atop her natural ones. During the struggle, Thrax accidentally knocks Shane's false eyelash into a vessel of alcohol below. Ozzy returns to Frank, while Thrax dissolves in the alcohol. Just as doctors give up attempting to revive a dead Frank, he is revived when Ozzy makes it back into Frank with the missing hypothalamus chromosone. Ozzy is reinstated into "Immunity" with full privleges, he and Drix (whom he's decided to take as his new partner) are declared heroes and he finally wins Leah's heart.
The end of the movie shows Frank and Shane on a hike and Frank, having survived Thrax's attack, has begun to improve his diet and personal hygiene. Meanwhile, Phlegmming has lost his position as mayor and now has a new job, cleaning the bowels. He accidentally ejects himself from the body via the rectum by touching a button that is amply and obviously marked, "DO NOT TOUCH!".
Interlaced with the main plot are several live action sequences that detail Frank's troublesome relationship with Shane. Her mother died at an early age; viewers may speculate that Frank has deteriorated as a result of depression caused by emotional loss, although there is reason to suspect that his wife also led an unhealthy lifestyle which may have caused her death, a note touched on during a conversation between Frank and Shane. Frank humiliated Shane previously by vomiting on her teacher, Mrs. Boyd, during a science fair, in which he ate another student's oyster experiment; Ozzy, patrolling the stomach at the time, saw a nasty germ that had come along with the swallowed oysters and pressed the "puke" button, spraying Mrs. Boyd with bile. The event was put on the front page of the local news, making Frank the town laughingstock. This event was responsible for Osmosis Jones' being transferred to duty in the mouth as a punitive measure to keep him from causing any further trouble.
Osmosis Jones' suspicions have frequently been dismissed by others, though ironically he is usually right on the money, even if he lacks the tact or caution to take care of problems without making a mess of matters. This is evidenced most poignantly by Thrax: "They’re making this too easy. You know, in all the bodies I’ve been in, no one has ever gotten wise to me, and now for the first time an immunity cell has figured out everything, and they don’t believe him!"
Frank attempted to mend matters, but failed. Throughout the film, Shane is ashamed of her father and attempts to reform him. Seeing him facing a terminal virus prompts an epiphany in both of them; Frank begins caring for his body, and Shane develops a renewed sense of daughterly pride in her father.
Live action characters
- Frank (Bill Murray) is a 40-year-old man prone to eat junk food, discount healthcare of himself, and behave laconically.
- Shane (Elena Franklin) is Frank’s 10-year-old daughter. Due to her father’s shortcomings, health is very important to her. She has become somewhat depressed after her mother’s death, and as a result her grades and relationships with other people are suffering.
- Mrs. Boyd (Molly Shannon) is Shane’s science and P.E. teacher in school. Having had her reputation and those of her three children ruined after her embarrassment by Frank, she has a 200-yard restraining order against him to prevent any further embarrassment.
- Bob (Chris Elliott) is Frank’s brother and coworker, who, when Frank lost a job at a pea soup factory, got him his job at the zoo. Bob is also the person to which Frank trusted Shane's future, when becoming feverish from his illness.
- Osmosis "Ozzy" Jones (voice of Chris Rock) The Protaganist. An over-zealous white blood cell, specifically a natural killer cell, on the FPD, or “Frank Police Department.” Osmosis' reputation was destroyed when he saw a salmonella pathogen about to enter Frank through a recently ingested raw oyster. Osmosis hit a switch that caused Frank to vomit, unfortunately onto his daughter Shane's teacher, Mrs. Boyd. Just as Frank’s vomiting on Ms. Boyd discredited Frank himself, it also affected Ozzy’s reputation, as he had been the only cell to actually see the pathogen. Ever since, he has been placed in out-of-the-way patrols. Therefore he seizes any opportunity to be able to make a difference. It is because of this that he is not believed about Thrax’s infection. Ozzy, lacking bones, is able to contort his body drastically, to the extent of splitting it down the middle, oozing through cracks, and combining his two eyes into one. Few other cells, though presumably able to do likewise, are shown doing so.
- Thrax (voice of Laurence Fishburne) The Antagonist. A tall, extremely virulent, perhaps unique, and unusually powerful virus, who claims loudly: “Ebola is a case of dandruff compared to me!” He is red-skinned and, unlike native inhabitants of Frank, angular in design. His left index finger is a long claw, which can become hot enough to melt the cellular equivalent to steel and, on contact with other organisms, causes them to be consumed in flames. He appears to be resistant to heat. He can also glide using his trench coat. Thrax is suave and prone to humming jazz. He is known as the Red Death, a reference to Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death." His name is a play on the word Anthrax. It is more than likely that he is a fictional virus, but there is a possibility he could be scarlet fever like Scarlet from the series, to whom he bears a large resemblance.
- Drix (voice of David Hyde Pierce) is a cold pill; his red-and-yellow, boxy, robotic design reflects this. 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 learned, but not clever. Drix disagrees with Osmosis’s methods, but respects Osmosis for continuing to fight illness despite the lack of faith in him.
- Leah Estrogen (voice of Brandy Norwood) is Mayor Phlegmming’s assistant, greatly relied upon by the Mayor for her skills. She is one of few inhabitants of Frank who realize the flaws of the current administration, and one of the few grudgingly willing to believe Osmosis’s claims of a large-scale infection. She is Osmosis's love interest, but resists his advances until the very end.
- Mayor Phlegmming (voice of William Shatner) is the short, overweight mayor of the "City of Frank" during the majority of the movie. He is either the cause or a reflection of Frank’s negligence, and is constantly preoccupied with everything but his job, except when it concerns planning his re-election. Even in the midst of disaster, his concern is more with his own convenience than anything else. His name a pun on the word phlegm, which he creates inside Frank
- Tom Colonic (voice of Ron Howard) is Mayor Phlegmming’s opposition in the election. He is a tall, thin cell, and supports a healthier Frank.
- The Chief of Police (voice of Joel Silver) is an extremely large, somewhat gelatinous cell with a short temper. He is evidently used to (though frustrated by) Ozzy’s adventures. Ultimately, he becomes supportive of Osmosis’s reading of Thrax when severe symptoms appear.
Film production and box office reception
went through a troubled time in 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 some 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.
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). While Osmosis Jones was not a huge box-office success and received mixed reviews, it sold well on VHS and DVD. One of the producers on the film's commentary track also adds that it was a number-one selling DVD.
Footage cut from the final film
- In the original script and in early cuts of the movie, a scene was featured when Osmosis and Drix go to the Gonad's Gym. It involved their talking to the "exercising" sperm cells. The scene was cut in order to get a PG rating and appeal to a family audience. 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.)
- 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. The needle drew out all of Ozzy's relatives, apparently leaving him all alone. 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.
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. The 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
Songs On the Soundtrack
- "Summer In the City" - St. Lunatics
- "Big Ball" - Drama
- "Solo Star" - Solange Knowles
- "Open" - Brandy Norwood
- "Fill Me In (Part 2)" - Craig David
- "I Believe" - R. Kelly
- "Cool, Daddy Cool" - Kid Rock
- "Turn It Out" - De La Soul
- "Take It To Da House" - Trick Daddy
- "Just In Case" - Nivea
- "Why Did You Have To Be" - Debelah Morgan
- "Don't Be Mad" - Sunshine Anderson
- "Here We Go Again" - Nappy Roots
- "Love Me Or Leave Me" - Ms. Toi
- "Rider Like Me" - Ezekiel Lewis
- "Break U Off" - Uncle Kracker
Cast and crew
In addition, Ben Stein, Joel Silver, John Melendez and Kid Rock's band (including himself, Joe C., and Uncle Kracker) have cameo voice roles.
Live action cast