Every actor’s got a project or 30 in their past that they’d rather forget, which is what makes Only The Worst, a new column from Vice, so full of potential. For this edition, Justin Caffier talks to Jerry O’Connell of Jerry Maguire, Stand By Me, and Scream 2 fame about the universally despised Kangaroo Jack, a 2003 rapping kangaroo comedy he starred in alongside Anthony Anderson, Christopher Walken, and Michael Shannon. Caffier even notes our own Nathan Rabin’s review, which describes it as “some of the longest 90 minutes ever committed to film.”
O’Connell is a gracious interviewee and, having been told by producer Jerry Bruckheimer to “never read reviews on it,” has no idea how it’s perceived publicly. He’s shocked to learn it currently holds an 8 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but less so once he and Caffier begin discussing the film’s abundance of gay panic, sexism, and general insensitivity, all of which O’Connell and the author use as an example of how much the cultural climate has changed.
He also reveals the film originally began as “a pretty dark spec script” titled Down And Under that featured “a lot of cursing, a lot of sex.” The whole idea of a rapping kangaroo didn’t even enter the picture until after production, when the producers reacted to poor test screenings by trying to make it more kid-friendly.
When asked if he ever gets shit for the movie, O’Connell offers this gem of a quote: “I think when people have ‘the fat kid from Stand By Me’ card to use, it trumps any Kangaroo Jack stuff.”