Friday, September 6, 2013

The Gods Must Be Crazy Movie Review

The 1980 film, The Gods Must Be Crazy, is an obscure cult classic comedy that I have seen many times over the years. I recently watched it with a bunch of friends, most of whom had never heard of it and it was well received even today. I don't want this movie to be forgotten; it's my hope that I'll reach enough post-80's movie watchers so as to extend the cult following of this classic.
Kalahari bushman Xi (played by genuine bushman N!xau) is as surprised as the rest of his tribe when a Coke bottle, thrown from a passing plane, lands in the middle of their village. This "gift from the gods" proves to be a mixed blessing when the tribesmen begin fighting over it and eventually use it as a weapon. To keep peace in the village, Xi is assigned to take the bottle to the "end of the world" and throw it back to the gods. Meanwhile, back in urbanized South Africa, Kate Thompson (Sandra Prinsloo) leaves her office job in the city to take a job teaching Kalahari children. Once in the wilderness she finds herself constantly bumping into clumsy microbiologist Andrew Steyn (Marius Weyers).  Elsewhere, maniacal Sam Boga (Louw Verwey) is leading a military coup against the government. The various characters run into each other a number of times before getting drawn into Boga's hostage situation to keep the military at bay, and it seems that the bushman with the Coke bottle is their only chance to escape.
The Gods Must Be Crazy starts out looking for all the world like a nature documentary, but gradually becomes sillier. While describing Xi's culture, the narrator says, "They must be the most contented people in the world. They have no crime, no punishment, no violence, no laws, no police, judges, rulers or bosses. They believe that the gods put only good and useful things on the earth for them to use." The narrator goes on to say, "Only 600 miles to the south, there's a vast city. And here you find civilized man. Civilized man refused to adapt himself to his environment; instead, he adapted his environment to suit him. So he built cities, roads, vehicles, machinery, and he put up power lines to run his labor-saving devices. But somehow he didn't know where to stop. The more he improved his surroundings to make life easier, the more complicated he made it." It really does make you think about the world and how ridiculous and tedious we make our lives.
The comedy is outstanding. There is a lot of physical comedy and slapstick. The incompetent terrorists can't seem to figure out how to load their weapons and are almost as much of a threat to themselves as they are to the government they are trying to overthrow. Steyn becomes an absolute blundering, fumbling idiot when he's around Kate and is constantly dropping things, bumping his head, and getting is foot stuck in trashcans. The humor is not unlike a Mr. Bean sketch. Here's a clip of Steyn innocently trying to return a misplaced pair of Kate's shoes:

The script is also hysterical. The narrator frequently commentates on Xi's interpretation of "civilized" people. Since the other characters are much fatter than anyone he's ever seen and they use magic (technology) he assumes at first that they are gods, but quickly decides otherwise because they are "not very bright, because they can't survive without their magic contrivances". Kate is frequently exasperated by the all the hoopla and becomes highly sarcastic. Humor aside, the script is straightforward, moves the story along logically, and develops the characters well.
Just about the only thing I can complain about is the editing. There are moments in the movie when the footage is sped up a bit during physical action. I'm genuinely uncertain if they were trying to get a slightly fast-forward effect similar to a Benny Hill style chase scene, or if they were trying to shorten the length of a single shot in the interest of time. One would be funny, the other would be sloppy editing. They do this frequently in the movie, and I admit it becomes vaguely annoying after a while. But the riotous physical comedy and wacky dialogue more than make up for it.
The Gods Must Be Crazy is absolutely hysterical and puts me in stitches every time I see it. Most contemporary "comedies" revolve around crude humor, sex jokes, and awkward social situations. This movie is nice and clean and has awkward situational comedy which is actually well done! If you're not such a big fan of physical humor you may not enjoy it as much as I do, but it's a cult classic comedy that I think everyone should see at least once. The humor has withstood the test of time; it's still well received by teens and young adults today. I think it is worth owning. There is a sequel, but I have yet to see it. It can't possibly be as good as this first one.

You can find various places online to watch The Gods Must Be Crazy; just do a quick Google search and you'll find several. I've included the link to watch the full movie on YouTube, though you'll probably get commercial breaks periodically. Just go buy the DVD and enjoy it.

What is your favorite cult classic comedy? Comment below and tell me why!

No comments:

Post a Comment