These films are favorites of unambitious sociology professors everywhere, but not a favorite of Judge Patrick Naugle.
An epic comedy of absurd proportions.
One of Africa's most popular films, The Gods Must Be Crazy is a movie that has gained a cult following and inspired a sequel, the cleverly titled The Gods Must Be Crazy II (those marketing guys…how do they come up with this stuff!). Starring everyone's favorite bushman, N!xau, and a host of other actors whose voices have been dubbed, The Gods Must Be Crazy and The Gods Must Be Crazy II are back on DVD in two separate editions care of Columbia Home Entertainment.
Facts of the Case
• The Gods Must Be Crazy
• The Gods Must Be Crazy II
A few things can happen in a comedy that will immediately make me lose interest in almost anything going on on-screen. Hitting someone in the groin with a golf club and/or blunt object is one of them. Utilizing monkeys in dresses is another. The final nail in the coffin is when filmmakers try to jostle laughs out of a viewer by speeding up the footage. You know what I mean: when a character is doing some physical "shtick" (running, jumping, swimming, et cetera) and the film speed is cranked up so the person looks wildly out of control. Benny Hill might have been the only person able to get away with this, and that isn't saying much.
Suffice it to say, both The Gods Must Be Crazy and The Gods Must Be Crazy II feature this lackluster comedic ploy, and then some. It's a shame, because as both movies dragged on endlessly I began to regret requesting either film for review. I'm not sure what I was expecting—I'd heard about the duo all through my childhood but never sat through either of them, not even on cable.
And so it was with a modicum of excitement that I sat down and painstakingly sat through The Gods Must Be Crazy and its sequel. Needless to say, by this point in the review, I wasn't amused. While half of each film feels like a filmstrip documentary shown in sixth grade (the narrator explains the bushmen's lifestyle, daily routines, interaction with their tribe, et cetera), the rest of the movie sports badly dubbed actors partaking in such shenanigans as scampering away from large rhinos and other animals made out of rubber; running, jumping, and swimming in the hope that someone will laugh at them; and avoiding rotund bearded men with guns. Yes, quite literally this is the meat of each film, which means both films are the equivalent of badly cooked bacon.
If there is any silver lining to these films it's the screen presence of the late N!xau (who passed away in 2003), himself an outsider who lived with three wives in Africa (or as I like to call him, "the luckiest man on the planet"). N!xau shambles on-screen with a goofy grin that appears to scream, "Hey, I have no idea what's going on here, but it sure is a lot of fun." The film utilizes N!xau's character better than the sequel—his trip to drop the Coke bottle at the end of the earth is the highpoint of the film.
I guess in the end I just didn't "get" The Gods Must Be Crazy or The Gods Must Be Crazy II. The comedy is substandard and the actors are all mediocre at best (and don't even get me started on many of the jump cuts and improper editing techniques along the way…). I wish I could muster up more praise for these films, but to do so would only prove this reviewer must be crazy.
The Gods Must Be Crazy is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen while The Gods Must Be Crazy II is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen. Neither transfer is overly impressive. The sequel looks better than the original, though not by a substantial margin. The original The Gods Must Be Crazy sports a lot of grain and dirt as well as a muted palette, soft colors, and sometimes muddy blacks. The Gods Must Be Crazy II looks slightly cleaner with sharper colors and darker black levels. Due to the budgetary constraints of each film, I'm not surprised that these pictures aren't in great shape (though fans will certainly be happy to see them in their original aspect ratios).
The soundtrack for The Gods Must Be Crazy and The Gods Must Be Crazy II are presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono in English. There isn't a whole lot to boast about when it comes to either of these sound mixes—The Gods Must Be Crazy II sounds slightly better than its predecessor, but not by much. Both mixes feature very flat uninspired dialogue, hollow effects, and goofy music. Both are front heavy without any true directional effects in the mix. Each track is free of heavy distortion, though Columbia could have done a much better job with both films. Also included on each disc are English, French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, and Chinese subtitles.
Fans will be slightly happy to see a new featurette titled "Journey to Nyae Naye" included on the original film's disc, a 25 minute visit by Daniel Riesenfield with an aged N!xau living in Africa. Unfortunately, someone at Columbia TriStar forgot to add English subtitles to the interview footage with N!xau, which means you see how speaking in his native tongue but have no idea what he's saying. While it's nice to see what happened to the star of the film, it's inexcusable that English subtitles are left off this featurette.
The Gods Must Be Crazy II includes a much shorter featurette, "Buster Reynolds Remembers Jamie Uys." Reynolds, the cinematographer, waxes nostalgic about the director while behind-the-scenes footage gives fans a little something extra to chew on.
Both discs also include theatrical trailers for the films.
I can't say that I'm a fan of either of these films. I found The Gods Must Be Crazy and its sequel to be a bit broad and too goofy for my refined tastes (refined = Fletch). Fans will certainly be happy to see these films in their original aspect ratios, and while not jam-packed with features the discs include two nice (albeit incomplete) featurettes.
The Gods Must Be Crazy if they think I love these films. You may feel otherwise.
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What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
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Scales of Justice, The Gods Must Be Crazy II
Perp Profile, The Gods Must Be Crazy II
Distinguishing Marks, The Gods Must Be Crazy II
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