Local comedy: Schuster in time-travelling slapstick

2008-11-30 00:00

How do you review a Leon Schuster film? Moer it by taking the purist approach? Or do you reflect on the social phenomenon as cash-strapped South Africans flock to cinemas to laugh at themselves? I didn’t laugh once. Neither did the huge black mama to my left, nor the skinny Indian teenager to my right. In fact, I felt cheated. Surely you should laugh at least once during a Schuster movie? Alas, not this one.

What a pity, as I had some (secretly) high hopes — after all, Mama Jack had some great elements and was, overall, surprisingly palatable.

Mr Bones 2 is just crap. The box office numbers will disagree, but really, that’s the truth.

The prequel to Mr Bones, the film kicks off in 1879 when white sangoma Bones and his sidekick, King Hekule (Tongayi Chirisa), encounter a strange curse passed on by a mischievous Indian misfit Kerrit (Meren Naidoo), who has escaped from the British Redcoats.

This sends them on a time-travelling adventure (courtesy of the “Great One” to whom Bones prays) to rid themselves of the curse. They arrive in Durban in the present day, which sets up all the gags: they’ve never encountered electricity (Eskom), motor vehicles (but always manage to start one and drive it), or taps (“You have a river flowing into your house?”).

Schuster has some good story ideas, but they never fully materialise and, besides, they’re suffocated by one-dimensional characters and even more one-dimensional gags. Perhaps it’s just me, but surely we’ve got past laughing at someone who eats 10 chillies and then breathes and farts fire?

On her feature film debut, Leeanda Reddy, as the love interest, is probably the most complex character (you’d have to be complex to fall in love with Bones). The rest of the characters are disappointing, over-quirky and annoying stereotypes.

The biggest reflex response from the audience was when Schuster’s long-time sidekick Alfred Ntombela appeared on screen. But he’s relegated to the minor role here as a policeman. Still, he has the best line — after Bones and Hekule trash a taxi and the taxi owner’s rifle, Ntombela gasps: “My oom Zuma se umshini wam!”.

Schuster is engraved as a legend in the South African entertainment scene, after the first Mr Bones amassed a whopping R33 million. But I agree with John Vlismas. I can’t sit through a Schuster film, especially one that doesn’t make me laugh.

Trailer:

 

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