If there is a difference between the personnas that the Irwins project on their television show and film and how they are in person, I can’t fathom what it is. They’re engaging, fun, and passionate about educating kids (and maybe their parents, too) about the beauty and fragility of nature. They’re also fearless, it seems, about dealing with any kind of animal. Except parrots. I spoke with them, appropriately enough, at the San Francisco Zoo, on June 26th, 2002, and started the conversation with Steve’s attitude about having Terri wrestle crocodiles.
I am never going to have an aesthetic appreciation of the bird-eating spider. It’s about the size of a Bosc pear, hairy, and packing fangs that spout venom. Steve Irwin, cable television’s Crocodile Hunter, on the other hand, has a starry-eyed, ebullient adoration for it that makes the creature seem a little less loathsome. And that’s saying a lot, considering how I feel about eight-legged creatures that exhibit radial symmetry and an exoskeleton.
THE CROCODILE HUNTER is a cable phenomenon. In each installment we see Steve wrestling crocs, handling snakes, chasing lizards and generally interacting with all manner of wildlife, the more dangerous the better. It’s not all fun and games, though Mr. Irwin’s brand of hyped-up energy seems like he’s been popping espressos non-stop for three days. While filling the screen with more kinetic energy than a super nova, he’s also explaining with infectious affection each critter’s zoological particulars and waxing rhapsodic at its unique beauty. Even that spider.
The film co-stars David Wenham, Magda Szubanski, Kenneth Ransom and Lachey Hulme, and Aden Young. It was directed by John Stainton from a script he co-wrote with Holly Goldberg Sloan.