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The Gods Must Be Crazy (February 6/04)

It's no wonder The Gods Must Be Crazy was a huge hit upon its release some 20 years ago, as the film contains enough elements to please the majority of audiences. The film is jam-packed with moments of physical comedy, romance, and even abrupt violence. It's a bizarre mix that nevertheless manages to entertain, primarily due to writer/director Jamie Uys' obvious enthusiasm for his material.

There's not a single storyline at work here, though the most famous (not to mention effective) remains Xi (N!xau) and his efforts to throw a seemingly demonic coke bottle off the edge of the world. Said bottle has brought his tribe nothing but bad luck, so he's taken it upon himself to extricate the item from their lives the only way he knows how. Meanwhile, romance is in the air for a fetching young teacher (Sandra Prinsloo) and a bumbling scientist (Marius Weyers). The third plot strand, involving an evil revolutionary, is easily the film's weakest - but does serve to unite the other two stories in the movie's last act.

The Gods Must Be Crazy works best during the opening sequences, in which the film apes a documentary - complete with voice over from a stuffy British narrator. It's an intriguing way to introduce the various characters, and nicely sets the absurd tone that follows. The oddly named N!xau, who was actually a bushman when he was cast, proves to be a natural actor, winning us over with his charm and memorable facial expressions (and without speaking a single word of English!)

It's not hard to understand why the film was such a worldwide sensation, as it's entirely possible to watch the movie without understanding any of the dialogue. The Gods Must Be Crazy contains enough moments of physical comedy - along the lines of The Three Stooges or Abbott and Costello - to keep the majority of audiences semi-entertained. While there's no denying that the film is overlong by at least 20 minutes, primarily because of that needlessly violent subplot dealing with the villainous rabble rouser, the easy-going nature of the characters makes it easy enough to overlook such flaws.

out of

About the DVD: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment presents The Gods Must Be Crazy with a letterboxed transfer, in a package that includes the first film. The disc's extras include a 25-minute documentary in which the filmmaker travels to Africa, though it would seem as though someone forgot to include subtitles for the various natives (their indigenous language isn't translated for us). A series of photos from the Baraka school glimpsed in the doc and some trailers (Ghostbusters, Cops and Robbersons, and So I Married an Axe Murderer) round out the bonus features.
© David Nusair