WHERE TO WATCH:
WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
New Material, is the much anticipated return of Cassim trying to figure out family, love, kids and comedy.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
There are far too few films that accurately represent the Muslim community, even fewer of the faith and rich culture that permeates our local landscape. So I'm often moved by films such as Barakat – South Africa's official Oscar 2022 submission – and the big-hearted Material – starring Riaad Moosa as Cassim Kaif, an aspiring comedian with dreams of making it big while toeing the line as a dutiful Muslim and son to his conservative father. New Material comes almost a decade later, and though the sequel tells a similarly heartwarming story, the jokes this time around fall a little flat, despite the film's witty title.
New Material sees Moosa return as Cassim Kaif; some years on, he's still performing, all the while caring for his ageing parents (Vincent Ebrahim and Denise Newman), wife (Carishma Basday) and daughter (played by Moosa's own daughter, Hanaa Moosa). With big dreams, he hopes to expand his career far beyond the Fordsburg community, and the pressure often clouds his judgment – it's his agent Yusuf (played by the always hilarious Joey Rasdien) that's his voice of reason, but don't get me wrong, he fully supports his best friend. They embark on a nationwide tour with friend and fellow comedian Hendrik (Schalk Bezuidenhout), which doesn't quite go as planned with a new sponsor, notorious businessman Shabir Sulabie (Rajesh Gopie), heir to Suliman's Chicken Bites, on board.
What results is a series of unfortunate events for the aspiring comedian that often, unfortunately, feels disjointed in trying to balance the humour and drama while telling a more profound story. And though Vincent Ebrahim, Denise Newman and Riaad Moosa himself all give stand-out dramatic performances once again, the material they're working with here, excuse the pun, just isn't good enough for me to give the film more than a two-star rating.
The slapstick humour just seems amateurish – there's a whole kung-fu scene with the Indian mafia of Suliman's Chicken Bites that had me shook, and not in a good way – the one-liners fell completely flat. Even the sets throughout the film were recycled from Moosa's old stand-up material (though a few cameo appearances by up-and-coming comedians did provide some relief).
I will say, however, I quite enjoyed the film's running joke on the controversial cheese samoosa, the more endearing scenes between Riaad and Hanaa Moosa and some of the other, more humorous storylines that many will find relatable – some piping hot karak tea: not one Indian daughter-in-law the world over gets along with her mother-in-law (don't even @ me). That said, however, there were far too many things going on in New Material.
Though some storylines made sense in the greater scheme of things, obsessed fans and the like just seemed unnecessary, particularly as the film told the story of a young Muslim man rediscovering what's most important to him while finding a way to honour a community that may has been displaced, but will never be forgotten.
By the end of the movie, I was left wondering about the necessity of a lot of the material, most of which was pretty forgettable, while the film in its entirety was cluttered and fragmented. That said, though it didn't quite live up to the first movie, New Material ultimately leaves the viewer with a beautiful message of what it means to belong, and reminds you that often what awaits you is a destiny far greater than the one you ever could have imagined for yourself.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: