Saturday, December 05, 2009

Osmosis Jones

I was speaking to Vimal about the subjects of my past two posts (Path of Love, More worms), and was reminded of one of the most wonderful animation movies I have seen, Osmosis Jones. I'm surprised how few times it comes up in conversation -  I never even remember talking about it in the past 3-4 years!

Ever since I was a kid, I remember constructing elaborate fantasies about how my own body works. I always imagined me to be some kind of a planet, and there are lots of 'little people' going around doing their job. Brain cells, "immune cells", liver cells - all of them were characters in this big world called me. Sometimes they used to break out of character and talked about their lives! I still do that, but it's mostly when I'm sick and I imagine epic battles taking place.

Osmosis Jones is ALL that, and much much more! It's the story of a white blood cell, Osmosis Jones, a 'cop' in the City of Frank Police Department (FPD) in the City of Frank. Frank is a zoo keeper who couldn't care less about his health. Life's as usual in Frank, till a mysterious and very dangerous intruder gets in - and it's up to Frank and his new friend Drixenol the cold pill to stop him! Jones' great-great-grandfather was a celebrated hero who fought the measles in his day, and there's been a Jones on the force ever since his ancestors came over on the umbilical cord. He's  determined to save Frank in spite of opposition from the Mayor of Frank, who is Frank's complacency personified. Fantastic stuff!

Everything about the movie is fantastic - the plot, the voices, the music, the jokes, everything! And it has its  tearjerker moments, too! Fantastic stuff, every minute of the 1.5 hours is gold. There are tons of copies floating around, here's one.

Thinking a little further, the amazing part about the movie is really the attention to detail. I think this movie beats even Futurama in that department. Everything is amazingly well thought-out and consistent. The brilliant bits are very subtle, and you'll most likely miss them in the first viewing. But even if you don't observe any of them, the movie will still be a nice, fun experience. When you do observe something in the middle of the movie, you go "Fuck, that's brilliant!" and you go back, and you see that it's been there all along. For example, in the Mayor's office is a statue of a sperm cell, and the plaque below it reads "Our Founder" :-)

In another instance, Jones and Drix encounter a virus and Drix is about to shoot it, but Jones stops him, saying "Hold it, this one's on our side. He came in on a vaccine and ratted on the Flu, and is now on our Virus Protection Program".

In a seedy bar near the Liver-more area, a sign reads "No cilia, no cytoplasm - no service!", obviously displaying the area's stark racism against non-Frank cells.

There's a rock band playing in a bar, and it's called 'Kidney Rock' (and part of the full song). Also, earlier in the film one immune cell tells to another sitting in a cop car, "Y'know, this weekend I'm taking my girl down under to the kidneys to see the stones!". The other cop says, "Good, they might be gone soon!"

In one of the scenes, the Mayor is asked by a journalist, "What is your opinion on the latest fat housing crisis?". He replies in a typical politician's drone, "We're beginning construction of a third chin". The Mayor then announces a trip to a chicken wings festival, and there is great cheer through out. The loudest cheer comes from the locality of "Love Handle", which has a sign next to it, "Frank's fastest growing community!" like a housing advertising sign!

The awesomeness only increases as the movie progresses. After a turn of events where the Mayor calls Drix a 'TEMPORARY relief cold pill', Drix gets disillusioned and books his tickets to the Bladder. He's almost got there, and is boarding the ship scheduled for 9:47 Pee 'Em  when Osmosis comes to the dock and tells him the villain's still out there, there's more work for them to do and tries to cheers him up. Drix is still depressed, and says "I can't do anything, I'm just a cold pill. I'm useless.". To which Osmosis replies, "Come on Frank, you can do it! I've known sugar pills that cured cancer, just because they believed!" BRILLIANT! Just BRILLIANT!

After a very heroic and close rescue, Osmosis' girlfriend (of course he has one) sighs with relief, "Thank Frank!"

Fantastic movie. Go see!

IMDB collection of quotes from the movie.

The real world is no less amazing:

White blood cell engulfing a bacterium. Just look at the chase! Go Osmosis!

Look at how at 0:03 our Hero thrusts abruptly - "And take THAT.. dang the little bastard is fast". Near 0:07, there's a second bacterium - "Hey, what's this, ANOTHER one? Damn. Should I...? Uh let me just extend a bit over, I can get him... naah, I gotta nail the first one". And at near 0:15, "Aha! Got you now, you sonofa.. DANG can't any o' these RBCs stay STILL? Now you really got me mad!!". This should be set to music, and there should be a commentary!


It never really rubs in, but when I do stop and think for a minute, I'm always amazed at the human body.  I'm this walking-talking-thinking universe of 10000 billion cells, all of them alive! Reminds me of this Groucho Marx quote: "Life, n.: A whim of several billion cells to be you for a while."

It's a sobering thought, knowing that so much is happening within each one of us. A billion movies could be made about how T-cell #14,567,933 just pwned that bacterium in your gut, only to discover that his co-pwner just got digested, and how an injudicious choice of pizza topping by the big guy above caused a genocide of 60 million stomach lining cells wiping out friends and family, but ONE guy survived it all, and... :-)

The single best pep-quote I have read ever is this (paraphrased, don't know source): If ever you're feeling down, if ever you think you're not good enough, just remember the first goddamn thing you did in life was to win a race against 300 million motherfuckers!



Update: I'm reminded of a very nice article Karthik wrote at >> : "Why are you producing so few red blood cells today?"


Dileep said...

"I still do that, but it's mostly when I'm sick and I imagine epic battles taking place."
LOL you too!!!!?
Every time I was hurt, I'd try and use THE FORCE to accelerate cell division around the healing area at the cost of telomeres.

LOL on the sugar pills :P
I still have trouble explaining homoeopathy madness to my professor of a father.

Karthik said...

I remember seeing the TV series several years ago, and I thought that to be incredibly clever. I had no idea it was based on a movie.

And I just finished watching it. Wow!

The attention to detail is unbelievable, heads and shoulders above Ozzy & Drix. I was floored by the signs (Warning: Open cavity, No clotting!) and the one liners ("Think outside the pillbox!"). Heck, even the tagline for the movie is a pun ("He's one cell of a guy.")

They've internalized the swearing too! (Holy spit! What the Frank! And my favorite- Son of a Botulis!)

Anthropomorphizing (phew!) the cells in one's body is something every kid's done at least a couple of times. (I stopped dreaming up these accounts when I learnt about the straightjacket.)

I've always been fascinated by changes in scale- and I don't mean this in a Powers of Ten or slo-mo sense. It's startlingly funny or surprising when the scales interact, like in the Hitchhiker's Guide, when an interplanetary invasion force is eaten by a small dog. It took me some time to realize that this was part of the appeal of this movie. This fascination carries over to the inside of the straightjacket too. When I first learnt about singular perturbation problems, I was grinning like an idiot for days.

PS said...

Oh my god. Osmosis Jones! When I read the title it didn't ring any bells in me but once you started talking about the film, Gott in Himmel!

I remember watching the movie ages ago on Star Movies and remember being thoroughly entertained. I don't know how a movie as good as this is so easy to miss and forget... the astounding accuracy in dealing with the human body increases the humour, rather than decreasing it.

My personal highlight was the Virus Protection Program thing. To think of vaccines as covert agents working for Frank is nothing short of brilliant.

And the cop cars with the cilia!
Frank's memory!
The shuttle transport that is the digestive tract!

Everything from the li'l Gingivitis germs hijacking the cop cars to Leah Estrogen being the voice of compassion as the Mayor's aide to Thrax hiring other germs as henchmen... every single thing makes physiological sense.