Anthony's Film Review
The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)
A comedy that is really funny and also very original and creative...
The Gods Must Be Crazy is a 1980 comedy film that may have been made in South Africa but, to me, has widespread international appeal. If there's one thing that every person in the world can understand, it's humor. No matter what culture you've been raised in, it's practically human nature to laugh at the absurdities of the world we see. The Gods Must Be Crazy works so well because it present humor in a primitive tribal civilization, a modern advanced civilization, and a collision of the two.
At first, the movie looks like a documentary of an African tribe in the Kalahari desert. You have a narrator who gives us an insight into its way of life. Then the movie suddenly switches over to a modern city in South Africa, and the narrator is describing the lives of urbanites in the same manner. The humor of the film begins here, because the narrator is now pointing out the absurdities of modern life. For example, people have to adapt from one environment to another when they leave home to go to work. Plus, people have to spend years in school just to learn basic survival skills.
Once the film goes back to the African tribe, the humor gets even better. When the tribespeople hear a plane flying over, the narrator is explaining that they think the gods' stomachs are rumbling. They also think the plane's exhaust in the sky is the gods' flatulence. And then, something really strange happens: the pilot of the plane finishes drinking out of a glass Coke bottle and tosses it out of the plane. It lands where the tribe is, and one of the bushmen, named Xi (played by N!xau), picks up the bottle.
What happens next is so hilarious that it's practically the highlight of the movie (not that the rest of the movie isn't funny, because it is). Xi and the rest of the tribe discover how incredibly versatile this bottle can be. It can smash fruit, help smooth snakeskin, play a little music by blowing its top, and much more. However, because only one bottle fell from the sky, everyone soon finds themselves fighting for it. They soon agree that this bottle is an evil thing and that someone must throw it off the earth. Xi begins a long journey to do just that.
Xi's plotline eventually collides with two from modern civilization. One is a group of militant rebels who have gunned down government officials; they won't meet up with the other plotlines until close to the end. The other includes a clumsy biologist named Andrew Steyn (played by Marius Weyers) who has to transport a woman named Kate Thompson (played by Sandra Prinsloo). Andrew provides so many comical moments. He is especially funny when he drives a jeep that is very hard to restart, meaning he must keep the vehicle running at all times. The jeep also has nonworking brakes, forcing him to use rocks to keep the vehicle still if needed. Then there are risque moments when Andrew accidentally stumbles upon Kate while she is in her underwear.
The rest of the movie is more of the same brilliant humor. Xi encounters things in modern civilization he's never seen before and the narrator gives us Xi's hilarious observations and conclusions. Andrew continues to be a real klutz in front of Kate. The rebels create a dangerous situation that unites all of the main characters. While this may sound bleak, the movie isn't terribly violent or scary at this point. If anything, the humor still prevails in the end.
The Gods Must Be Crazy was directed by Jamie Uys and is one of those movies that I would call a sleeper hit. In other words, it's a movie that is not widely noticed at first and only builds a relatively small audience a little later. But it's so brilliant in its story and humor, and I doubt a film this creative would be conceived ever again. It's as if the film, like the Coke bottle, has been dropped down from the sky by the gods. In which case, the gods aren't crazy, but they must have a really good sense of humor.
For more information about The Gods Must Be Crazy, visit the Internet Movie Database.