The Gods Must Be Crazy 2 (1989), or The Law Of Diminishing Sequels

15 04 2009

America has a love-hate relationship with sequels. Everyone sees the obvious benefit of them (reuniting with characters you identified with in the first film, exploring similar concepts, recurring artistic motifs), but why are they so universally distrusted? Sequels, by their very nature, tend to suggest failure. Most of the time, a director will put all the good ideas he/she has in the first feature, so by the time a second film is planned, the well has run dry. It’s not always as easy as blaming the director completely; a universe in which a film is set must be extremely well-written in order to spawn a successful sequel. A perfect example; Ghostbusters I and II. There will apparently always be ghosts to bust in NYC, and the Ghostbusters themselves will always have a fun rapport with one another, so empirical thinking demands (and the audience requests) more Ghostbusting action. There has to be a logical need of a sequel, a call for an encore if you will. Nobody wants to be the sequel that nobody asked for, like The Two Jakes or The Whole Ten Yards (!!!). But despite all this bellyaching, the sequel survives, and today’s sequel, The Gods Must Be Crazy 2, is in a strange limbo between being wanted and being totally unnecessary.

If you remember as far back as a week and a half ago (eons in the memory of your average college grad), I reviewed the first movie in this series, The Gods Must Be Crazy, finding it to be a better-than-average slapstick comedy with tones of something a little more meaningful. This time around, the meaning is gone, but there is a little more raw human emotion. We all remember Xi from the first movie, right? Right? Well, this time his name is Xixo, for some reason. He apparently returned to the village and fathered two children, named Xiri and Xisa. They are living an idyllic life sans Coke bottle until disaster strikes again, when Xixo’s beloved tykes unwittingly stow away in the back of an evil poacher’s vehicle. Xixo must again scour the African landscape; this time not to be rid of something dangerous, but to retrieve something valuable. There are more white guy storylines here, including a stranded pilot and his lawyer passenger, as well as a Cuban soldier and an Angolan soldier who constantly capture one another in vicious fights against one another. CAN IT GET ANY CRAZIER THAN THIS?!

Obviously, the parable aspect has been stripped away from the series, as there is no more Coke bottle and Xi’s village suffered no long term effects from it. It devalues the movie in a way for me; one of the things that impressed me so much in the original was the film’s sly ability to juggle importance with wacky comedy. Here, we find only the obligatory excuse to get Xixo out of the village so he can shake his head at the goofy whites.

But before I scare you away, let me say that it’s really not so bad. I enjoyed its cocksure attitude with the Benny Hill-esque machine gun method of telling jokes. The humor is still there, with even the same smarmy narrator from before. Even the bad guys are pretty funny here (George is one of my favorite characters), and all around there was just as much to laugh at as in the first one. The white guys are dumber than before and the antics are nutty enough to give the Marx brothers a run for their money.

Another interesting aspect is that we not only have Xixo looking for his kids, but we get a few scenes from Xiri’s and Xisa’s perspective, as well, who are trying to escape all the while. They have all the cuteness of Hollywood kids without all the feigned helplessness. They are wily and cunning, and carry the same bush-smart attitude that saw Xixo to “the end of the world” in the previous movie. Plus, the relationship they have with their dad here is very sweet and genuine, so all you softies out there will get some touching family moments.

A quick note about N!xau (that’s no misspelling; just a hard name to pronounce), the man who played Xixo. He was an actual San from the Kalahari Desert region. Before the first movie, he had only seen one or two white people and had no real idea about the outside world, so that was genuine confusion on his face at times when looking at all the modern magic going on around him. Unfortunately, this meant that he was easily duped by “civilized” trickery. Director Jamie Uys only paid the guy $300 to star in the movie! Worse yet, he allegedly didn’t even understand the concept of paper currency and let the bills be swept away by the wind!!! It was quite rough, but by the time this sequel was in the works, N!xau has picked up the idea of currency and was not going to budge unless they paid up about 800,000 South African rand! That’s less than $100,000, but he might as well have been the king of a small African country after that. He died only a few years ago, in 2003, so I give N!xau an official Cinematronica salute and bid him farewell. Thanks for the memories, pal!

So, did we need a sequel? Not at all. Is it at least welcome? I think so. It’s nothing to barge out the door and break an ankle trying to pick it up at the video store for, but I think that if you enjoyed the original, you’ll still find something to laugh at here. It’s rare to find a movie that is so unabashedly goofy and quirky, so it’s definitely unique in that aspect. It is worth mentioning that the two movies may work best when watched at the same time, so if you and your friends have a movie night, experiment a bit and don’t space them out like I did. Watch them back-to-back and see if you can gleam a bit more out of this second installment that way. But until I hear some feedback about that (IN THE COMMENTS SECTION!), I give The Gods Must Be Crazy 2 7 1/2 South African rands out of 10 (adjust for inflation).

Tomorrow is the PSA, where I’ll be taking a look into the bubbling black heart of There Will Be Blood!

Note: And this movie is not the end of the The Gods Must Be Crazy franchise, either, if you can believe that! They actually made 3 more movies!!!!! Some Chinese production company must have bought the rights, because they are all Chinese productions, but if I can get a hold of them I will review them! Stay tuned in the next few months for when I watch The Gods Must Be Crazy 3, aka Vampires Must Be Crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



One response

20 06 2013
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