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DIRECTOR: Gray Hofmeyr
CAST: Leon Schuster, Kenneth Nkosi, Alfred Ntombela, Tanit Phoenix, Elize Cawood
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
RATING: *** if you’re six years old and love a good fart joke; * if you’re not
BETWEEN the scatological jokes and the broad slapstick, Leon Schuster and company raise two important points about South African film audiences.
First, we love watching people give each other stick.
Second, our sense of humour sits in our pants.
Now, if you do not agree with those two sentiments, this film is definitely not for you. If you couldn’t care less about film reviews or the above sentiments, then you are going to love this film.
Also, if you are the average six-year-old boy, you are going to think you are in heaven. Fart jokes, jokes about poo, jokes with poo, scary roaring lions, and grown-ups being as stupid as you know them to be, Mad Buddies has them all.
Since the average six-year-old boy does not read newspapers, what does this film offer for the long-suffering adults who have to accompany said child to the cinema (the film carries a 10M age recommendation)?
Director Gray Hofmeyr and his accomplished crew bring their not inconsiderable technical prowess to bear, so it certainly looks good.
Long, lingering shots of the KwaZulu-Natal landscape as it melds into the highveld and then Gauteng certainly make for a great travelogue. This is a road trip movie, after all.
It is also a faux reality show, with Tanit Phoenix playing Kelsey, a wannabe reality tv producer who secretly films Leon Schuster and Kenneth Nkosi as they walk from Durban to Joburg.
The duo play Boetie (Schuster), a nine-toed (yes, this is an integral part of the storyline) former nature conservationist who clashes with former cop-turned-security guard, Beast (Nkosi), and their long walk to freedom is punishment for causing a ruckus at a wedding.
The Minister of Tourism, Mr Mda (Ntombela), and indeed the rest of the country, follow their travails with growing interest as the two bicker their way across the veld and through little towns.
Picture jokes about how black people are afraid of snakes, a random gay farmer guy named Daisy in the middle of nowhere, and the most horrifically gross “let’s get drunk” sequence involving the nine toes.
And then, just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, they break out in song. EVERYONE breaks out in song.
Schuster’s films are basically critic-proof. Over the years Schuster has become a brand, predicated on slapstick, gross-out humour and pratfalls of the lowest order. It may be crass, but it works on the horrified-by-the-accident-so-let’s-crane-our-necks level.
While it starts grossly over-the-top in the acting stakes, the film settles about three-quarters of the way through, at which point there is the most surreal of morning-after moments that could have provided the beginning of a truly intriguing film. What the hell just happened? is always such an interesting question. Instead, Schuster’s stuck to the ick level.
Like Mama Jack and Mr Bones, this film hangs on a storyline instead of a sequence of candid camera vignettes, but Schuster plays for the crassest kind of laughs he can raise instead of concentrating on the story.
This insistence on trying to appeal to a broad target market, instead of simply telling a story, means his films will always carry the taint of the contrived instead of ringing true – which is the best way to attract a market.
Is it true that if you stick a black man and white man together on a road trip the one will defecate in the other’s drinking water, while the other will lie about offering to help? Which is which?
Your answer says a lot about you and how you view race relations in this country. Could this be what Schuster is trying to lampoon? Is he being all sarcastic about how we stereotype each other’s responses based on race?
He’s being waaaaay too deep and subtle if that is the case, because all you get is surface jokes, over-the-top acting and a flying ostrich.
I kid you not.
If you liked... Mama Jack or Mr Bones... you will like this.