Frank & Fearless

Themba Ntuli and Leon Schuster in the movie Frank and Fearless. (Photo supplied: Starburst Music)
Themba Ntuli and Leon Schuster in the movie Frank and Fearless. (Photo supplied: Starburst Music)


A motley crew composed of an ageing miscreant chef, a big-hearted rural boy, a lazily-named rottweiler, and an orphaned baby rhino all set out on an adventure to stop rhino poaching. Their quest, naturally, takes them through often hysterical situations and sometimes heart-wrenching moments. 


This is a Leon Schuster film so South African audiences ought to know precisely what they're going to get coming into cinemas. This is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on where you stand on the South African comedic legend’s particular brand of comedy. 

True to form, Leon Schuster continues with his tried and tested comic recipe, cooking up gags that will either have you stone-faced and wishing you were elsewhere or laughing until you snort. 

The movie follows the antics of three loveable characters, only one of which is a human being - and he's not Frank (played by Leon Schuster). Perhaps other than Themba Ntuli, who holds up the dramatic, emotional depth of the narrative, the star of this movie is undoubtedly the South African bush and its beautiful scenery where much of the action takes place.

The story is unlike many of the other Schuster films of the past in that it tackles head on a true scourge faced on the African continent - poaching and the killing of rhinos to feed the lucrative trade in rhino horns.

This alone sets the movie apart from previous Schuster films like Mr Bones which really only have a deeper meaning and relation to real life and society if you employ some incredible mental flexibility. This, however, should not mean that the movie is any good though. While it is admirable in that it brings attention to a deserving cause (conservation and wildlife more generally), and has at its core an empowering message about being the heroes we want to see - unfortunately, that is where the movie’s merit ends for this reviewer.

As far as the humour goes, Schuster’s brand is by now very well known and in Frank and Fearless it is much of the same. Think fart sounds, scrunched-up faces, and quirky camera movements. Have you ever noticed that the extras in Leon Schuster movies often offer the most authentic reactions to his shenanigans? Just watch every Leon Schuster movie ever and see if the funniest part isn’t a random passerby’s reactions to a lion or snake or something along those lines. This trend continues in Frank and Fearless where the random extras who witness Schuster’s antics run away or scream or just genuinely react in the most ‘South African’ way to something frightening/confusing. These gags are what made Schuster great and it’s sad to see them no longer form part of his act.     

Schuster has abandoned the prosthetics (mostly), and the gags that saw him get slapped in favour of predictable slapstick comedy.  If you’re yearning for the nostalgia of old Leon Schuster - you may be disappointed. If poop and farts get you laughing then look no further than Frank and Fearless for a fun, family-friendly laughter-filled time at the cinema.

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