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Things Only Adults Notice In Back To The Outback

This content was paid for by Netflix and created by Looper.

A group of wily zoo animals decide to make a break for the wilderness down under in "Back to the Outback." The new CGI film features a handful of exotic Australian creatures in captivity who, after starring in a regular live show for human crowds who fear and hate them, join forces in hopes of escaping to a more natural habitat where they can finally be themselves without a crowd. 

Leading the group is Maddie (voiced by Isla Fisher), a highly venomous snake who wouldn't intentionally hurt a fly but is constantly reminded that she can kill 100 people in 10 seconds. She's joined by a hairy spider named Frank (Guy Pearce), the resourceful thorny devil Zoe (Miranda Tapsell), and a smart scorpion named Nigel (Angus Imrie). Even though they're all fearsome, dangerous creatures by nature — save for the cuddly celebrity koala Pretty Boy (Tim Minchin), who accidentally gets dragged into their escape plan — they still face some serious challenges in escaping Sydney while avoiding capture. However, they find some unexpected help in the form of a full-on society of fellow animals that tend to send shivers down human spines.

Though this family-friendly adventure is good fun for audiences of all ages, there are some parts of "Back to the Outback" that only the grownups are bound to notice.

The zoo staffers act like wardens

There are moments when Chaz Hunt (Eric Bana) seems like a truly caring and affectionate animal handler, but there are other times when he can be a bit cold and even cruel to the creatures in his care. His whiplash-inducing attitude towards these critters has clearly rubbed off on everyone else in his park because they all act more like prison wardens than zookeepers.

In fact, the animals have become so accustomed to their rough morning routines of being snatched up by cold pincers before their big showcases that they know to line up against the tank wall like a bunch of convicts being frisked for contraband. Their handlers even say to them, "Grab some glass!" Even little Chazzie (Diesel Cash La Torraca) struts in with a rather rude wakeup call for the creatures, and Chaz himself makes a show of treating his prized pets with disdain whenever there are customers around who want to see him tackle some dangerous creatures.

If the "zoo is a prison" metaphor wasn't already clear enough, when the pack of mistreated creatures finally decide enough's enough, their escape is highly reminiscent of what a prison break might look like, complete with roving spotlights, cameras, tall stone walls and everything.

The animals can read and hear human languages

A lot of the problems in "Back to the Outback" stem from the fact that most of the people in the pic are unable to understand what the animals are actually trying to say to them — like when the poor crocodile, Jackie (Jacki Weaver), attempts to rescue and comfort little Chazzie and gets punished for snapping at him. However, the animals seem to have no such trouble reading their human counterparts loud and clear.

Not only do they know what the humans around them are saying and doing, but they can also effectively understand the written word. Consider the moment when Jackie encourages her tiny friends to embrace who they are outside of the labels on their cages or when they're able to determine that their new tank is "unbreakable glass" based on a sticker. Clearly, these animals all have the upper hand on all of the two-legged types that cause them so much trouble because they can actually hear what the human beings are saying — and they've even got a good read on body language too.

Nature can still be dangerous

While a lot of the typically dangerous animals at the center of "Back to the Outback" are actually a bunch of softies in disguise, the movie doesn't exactly sidestep the fact that there still are some very hostile predators lurking in the wild.

After seeing that our new reptile and insect friends aren't inclined to bite anyone, we find out that there are still some aggressive carnivores hanging out in the animal kingdom outside. Chiefly, once the gang meets a friendly great white shark (Rachel House) — who introduces them to the U.S.S. (Ugly Secret Society) and its extended password before guiding them across some treacherous waters — she informs them that their old dung beetle friend, Duncan, tried to make a break for it before them but became a meal for a seagull. 

Meanwhile, though Frank tries to get a bit friendly with Legs Lucciano (Aislinn Derbez), the leader of the black widow spider gang in the sewer, she quickly reminds him that there's a reason her species has gotten its name. Most of the wildlife in "Back to the Outback" are still quite kind, but clearly, there are still some who make good on the notion that nature can be kinda vicious.

Those cold-blooded creatures sure are hot

Speaking of uncontrollable animal instincts, adult audiences are bound to notice just how many hysterically naughty jokes are sprinkled throughout the story. Frank is at the center of most of them, as we very quickly discover that he's a very lonely spider who's resentful of missing out on mating season and constantly has to turn to a stick called "Twiggy" for companionship. Several times throughout the film, Frank becomes overcome with his instinctual desire and involuntarily begins to do the mating dance, even when he sees a simple toy spider dangling from a kid's backpack.

Frank isn't the only randy animal to be featured in the film, though. We also meet a singing cane toad named Doug (Keith Urban), who wastes no time showing his affection to the love of his life when they're freed from a science lab by their new friends. There are a lot of knee-slapping jokes from these Casanova creatures that'll totally go over kids' heads, but perhaps the funniest one comes when Frank finally gets a chance to dance for some lady spiders of his own species and is quickly rejected with, "Sorry, mate, mating season ended yesterday," and he has to clutch to his stick once again. But we also have to appreciate the moment when we revisit Doug and discover that he's been very busy, with dozens of baby frogs surrounding the couple after just a couple of days.

Maddie is jealous of Pretty Boy — until she's not

Honestly, none of the wild escapades in "Back to the Outback" would've occurred if it weren't for Maddie's debut as a starring act. When we first meet her, she's pretty happy to finally get her first show in Chaz's park, and he tells her that the crowd is going to love her because she's "beautiful." We later learn that Maddie remembers little of her life before being adopted by Chaz because he found her in a moment of peril when she was still just a hatchling. So a life in captivity isn't something she's immediately against — until Chaz introduces her as "Medusa" and treats her like a dangerous "monster" in front of his terrified audience.

Like the others who share her storage room and are considered to be the most dangerous animals of them all, Maddie has to watch from a distance as Pretty Boy the koala gets the royal treatment from both Chaz and his adoring fans. She's jealous of the affection he receives, saying, "People love him — they line up for hours just to hug him." Meanwhile, she gets thrown into a box show after show like a ghoul. So, initially, Maddie is quite jealous of Pretty Boy's lot in the park ... until she gets to know him a lot more and realizes that being pampered has made Pretty Boy a narcissistic jerk who can't hack it. Maddie then has the upper hand on Pretty Boy but is so good that she's the only one who looks out for him, dragging him to and fro throughout the story to make sure he gets where he needs to go safely. In the end, it's Pretty Boy who has to take a few life lessons from Maddie.

Nigel is actually a little vicious

While Maddie and most of her new friends/family in the animal kingdom are wholly good-natured, there's one creature in their midst who has a bit of a mean streak underneath his cute exterior. Nigel, that shy little scorpion, does surprise us with some of his more hostile acts throughout "Back to the Outback."

Consider the fact that the first time he stings Pretty Boy in a moment of frustration, he has no idea what the result of that attack will be. "Oh no, I killed a celebrity," he laments as Pretty Boy is hurled over the zoo fence. Luckily, his spider pal knows that Nigel's venom will only knock Pretty Boy out for a while, but clearly, killing is something Nigel is capable of doing, unlike some of his other companions. 

And once he feels comfortable using his tail, he not only stings Pretty Boy again whenever they need to incapacitate their nay-saying travel partner later in the story, but he also makes a surprisingly crude joke about wanting to wipe his bottom on the koala's fur. Put simply, Nigel may be a soft-talking scorpion, but he's definitely not as innocent as some of the others in his ranks.

The lady who lunches must be drunk

As Maddie and her pals try to make their way from the metropolitan area into the Blue Mountains, they face quite a few obstacles, not the least of which is the fact that Chaz and his precocious son, Chazzie, are hot on their tails. And they come very, very close to being caught when they're spotted in a vulnerable moment in a city square.

However, all of the creatures manage to quickly go incognito by draping themselves across a random woman at a bistro table, and it's not until the danger clears and they start to move away from her that she even realizes what's happening. That might seem a bit odd since she has a number of animals hanging out on her head and other parts of her body, and who doesn't notice a snake coiling around her own noggin? But for the mature audiences who might be compelled to question this, the movie offers a subtle but suitable answer: She's nursing a martini, and judging by her delayed reaction to being swarmed by wildlife, it's probably not her first or second drink of the day.

Society moves on from Pretty Boy pretty fast

Another thing adults are bound to notice in "Back to the Outback" is its hilarious statements on pop culture vis a vis Pretty Boy. At the start of the film, this koala is so famous that even astronauts on the space station are livestreaming his webcam feed, and he's graced the covers of the biggest magazines and interacted with celebrities galore. Needless to say, he's easily the biggest attraction at Chaz's animal park.

However, after the other animals escape with him in tow and word gets around that Pretty Boy may have contracted rabies in the process, he gets a taste of the medicine his new friends have been swallowing this whole time because the people around him are suddenly fearful of him. Worse, he's no longer the well-groomed beautiful creature everyone expects him to be. As if that isn't rude awakening enough, Pretty Boy also finds out the hard way that fame is a fickle beast when the world quickly moves onto another adorable animal named Giggles and immediately forgets its obsession with Pretty Boy.

There's a very touching tribute to a wildlife legend

Speaking of the highs and lows of international fame, adult audiences are bound to notice some similarities between Chaz Hunt and the late legendary wildlife enthusiast Steve Irwin. Chaz doesn't go so far as to adopt his signature catchphrase "crikey," but between the Australian accent and safari suits, Chaz's whole look is definitely a nod to the man who reminded generations of the wonders of nature. And, as we find out in the film, that's entirely by design.

In fact, in a flashback, we learn that it was the Crocodile Hunter himself who inspired Chaz's entire persona, as he, like so many of us, grew up watching Irwin's tangling with cool creatures on television. Irwin isn't referenced directly by name here, of course, but there's really no need for that anyway because it's clear to most adults exactly who Chaz's role model is in "Back to the Outback."

Chaz has some very questionable parenting skills

However wholesome Chaz's childhood backstory turns out to be, mature audiences are still bound to have some questions about the many decisions the character makes throughout the film — especially when it comes to his parenting techniques. On the one hand, we hear him say that Chazzie's mother abandoned them for a landscape architect, which means Chaz was noble enough to step up and raise his son as a single father without soiling her name to his son. On the other hand, he's convinced the child that his mother was eaten by a python — a tender tale that he chooses to share by way of the boy's bedtime stories, no less.

And while you might be tempted to give Chaz some good dad points for being so positive after the kid's scary brush with the "two-ton killing machine" of a crocodile, we then learn that his compliments are probably owed to the fact that he's lied about so many moments of bravery in his past. Lifelong deception notwithstanding, once the truth does come out about Chaz's feigned claims for the sake of fame, his son kindly offers for them to both just take it easy and spend some time together playing video games. 

However, instead of embracing the safe and low-key option, Chaz then decides it's his time to actually become the hero he's always claimed to be and takes his son along for a very dangerous ride, with a bunch of bar bikers at their flanks, as they chase down the escaped animals in the Outback. He's fully aware that he doesn't know what he's doing, and yet he still embarks on this terrifying adventure with a crew of strangers and leaves his child hanging on the side of a cliff at the mercy of a snake he's repeatedly called a monster. Some dad!