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OSMOSIS JONES

The Distinctive Human Elements
"Osmosis Jones" is more than just a technical marvel. There is an essential humanity to the film driven by a compelling story and real characters — both live action and animated. "A lot of animated movies are only about the animation — it's just a visual thing and the story takes second place," note Peter and Bobby Farrelly, the trailblazing writers-producers-directors of such hit comedies as "There's Something About Mary" and "Dumb & Dumber." "In 'Osmosis,' the story is a first-class detective drama, and the animation enhances that."

"I created the story to be an homage to the buddy cop genre," explains Marc Hyman. "'Osmosis' is in the tradition of '48 Hours' and 'Lethal Weapon.' It's a microscopic spoof of those huge cop movies."

But even as the action-packed comic drama rages inside Frank's beleaguered body, another equally engaging story is simultaneously taking place outside, in the light of day. Under the direction of the Farrellys, the live action portion of "Osmosis Jones" focuses on Bill Murray as a concerned and loving father who is trying his best to be a good single parent to his daughter Shane, played by Elena Franklin. Frank's heart is in the right place (as we can certainly confirm), but he lacks the grace, the timing and sometimes even the right words to convey what he feels.

If everything Frank does and says with his daughter comes out wrong, then every encounter he has with Shane's teacher, Mrs. Boyd — played with hilarious restraint by "Saturday Night Live" alum Molly Shannon — is a downright disaster. It's clear the chemistry between them once sparked, but Frank has all but destroyed any romantic possibilities with his awkward, ill-timed attempts at charm. At this point, he'd be happy if Mrs. Boyd regarded him as sane, never mind attractive. As it is, Mrs. Boyd is more inclined to take out a restraining order against Frank than go out with him.

Meanwhile, Shane, still a child, tries her best to look after her absent-minded, self-destructive Dad and wonders if he'll ever grow up. He's bad enough on his own, but when he gets together with Bob, his goofball beer-swilling buddy from the zoo, the results are usually calamitous and often require medical assistance.

It was essential to Murray and the Farrellys that we see Frank as a real person.. .warts and all. "When I first saw the script, years before it was made, the animated portion was complete," Bill Murray recalls. "Then the Farrelly brothers committed to the project and had the writer, Marc Hyman, expand the entire live action story. People want to see a good story — as good as the animated stuff is, and it is, it's the human element of Frank that keeps people involved emotionally."

The Farrellys concur. "We wanted to make sure the story worked on an emotional level. When the film cuts to the outside and you see Bill in action with the other actors, well...as good as the story is, it just gets better with those guys in it."

The rapport that developed during production between fellow "Saturday Night Live" cast alumni Murray, Shannon and Elliott translated into top-notch comedy propelled by great timing and realistic character relationships. "I had worked with Bill before, when he came back to host an episode of 'Saturday Night Live,"' Shannon recalls. "It was intimidating working on 'Osmosis' at first because I'm such a huge fan of Bill's and the Farrelly brothers, and I wanted to do such a good job that I just couldn't concentrate. But once I got all that out of the way — and it didn't take long — it was just so much .... except maybe the scene where Bill throws up on my shoes. Although I have to say, he did it very well."

"As a director," says Bobby Farrelly, "you usually hope that the actors will stick to the script. Maybe you hope they'll just add a little of their personal inflection here and there. When you work with Bill Murray, Chris Elliot and Moll

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