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Deep Throat 

In Osmosis Jones, a virus takes over Bill Murray. (So that's his excuse.)

During this cinematic Summer of Dumb, it would be all too easy to celebrate half-assed cleverness as a virtue, especially when proffered by Bobby and Peter Farrelly, who elevated the gross-out to an art form in Kingpin and There's Something About Mary. Osmosis Jones, one of two films the Booger Brothers are offering this year, is at once their most restrained and their coarsest offering. It's a film about the animated inner workings of a slovenly zookeeper, Frank Detorri (Bill Murray), with a bottomless appetite for crap. Frank's body is less a temple than a decaying ghetto, complete with card-shark hustlers and viral hit men plotting Frank's demise from the inside and corrupt politicians trying to prop up the rubble. Mix in two squabbling cop partners -- Chris Rock as Osmosis Jones, a cuddly, pissed-off white blood cell with a badge, and David Hyde Pierce as Drix, proud cold medicine dolled up in Buzz Lightyear's rave threads -- and the whole thing plays like Lethal Weapon 4 recast as a Fantastic Voyage Saturday-morning cartoon.

It's a mess, and only a vaguely different sort than the Farrellys are used to making: They keep the jizz inside. This is a family film, meaning the brothers had to excise a sperm-workout scene inside a testicular hangout called Gonad's Gym. There's no accounting for taste, perhaps, when your leading man is willing to swallow anything.

But Osmosis Jones, which jarringly cuts back and forth between the real world and Frank's animated interior, is too obvious and disjointed to satisfy even Frank's cravings; it's junk food, empty calories dolled up as a main course. The scenes that take place in the real world are just tepid setups for the goings-on inside Frank's pale, bloated body, and those set inside Frank (animated by Tom Sito and Piet Kroon, rookies who show their awkwardness) slide by on sight gags that become tiresome. It's funny and even a little stunning the first time you see how fetid Frank's infrastructure has become, but there are only so many ways to turn organs into cellular nightspots and government buildings before the settings all begin to look the same.

By the time our tour of Frank's innards lands us in the Zit, a throbbing club in which an animated Kid Rock performs (as Kidney Rock, har har), you can't help but feel the excursion has reached its inevitable dead end. Osmosis Jones treads clumsily upon that line separating clever and stupid: For every random line that passes as a joke ("Me and my girlfriend are going down to the kidneys to see the Stones," one cell says to another) there are a dozen more that turn into allergens. You won't laugh, but you may very well sneeze at the whole affair. And after the vacuous dazzle of Shrek and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, the animation here is positively retro.

Lost in all the pea-soup vomit and lemon-yellow mucus is Murray, who's left for dead in a scene that kills whatever momentum the film can muster. He seems to have little interest or life in him; Frank's lethargy is contagious, infecting the film like a deadly virus. So if you feel the need to see Osmosis Jones, it'd be wise to get your shots.

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