What to watch | A local family comedy, a new take on The Jungle Book and a sitcom about The Rock's childhood

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Albertus (Leslie Fong) and Aisha (Vinette Ebrahim) want to get married, but first they must get past her sons in Barakat. (PHOTO: Facebook Barakat Movie)
Albertus (Leslie Fong) and Aisha (Vinette Ebrahim) want to get married, but first they must get past her sons in Barakat. (PHOTO: Facebook Barakat Movie)

Barakat ****

Local comedy drama. Widowed family matriarch Aisha Davids (7de Laan’s Vinette Ebrahim) is in love again and ­decides to say “yes” to the new man in her life, Albertus (Leslie Fong from Isidingo). 

She plans to tell her four sons, Zunaid (Joey Rasdien), Zaid (Mortimer Williams), Yaseen (Keeno Lee Hector) and Nur (Danny Ross), during Eid al-Fitr, the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan. 

The only fly in the ointment is that following her husband’s death, her two eldest sons, Zunaid and Zaid, have come to loathe each other. In the end it’s only gossip and false pretences that will get the four siblings to come home to hear their mom’s bombshell announcement.

Barakah means “blessing” in Arabic and in Cape Malay culture barakat is a paper bag filled with sweet treats shared with neighbours and friends. This, the first Afrikaans-language film centred on Muslim characters, is barakat in itself, filled with rich treats for viewers. 

Listening to the characters speaking Arabic and the Cape Afrikaans dialect, Afrikaaps, is a reminder of how this culture has been neglected by South African cinema.

Writer-director Amy Jephta has created an excellent, moving film, while the outstanding cast – which also ­includes Quanita Adams as Zunaid’s estranged wife, Ra-eesah; June van Merch (Fishy Fêshuns) as nosy neighbour Fadielah; and Bonnie Mbuli (Noughts + Crosses) as Zaid’s girlfriend, Gwyneth – deliver convincing performances. 

Though the plot is somewhat predictable, it’s a movie that takes you on a journey of self-discovery and leads you through a whirlpool of emotions. You’ll smile in recognition, laugh and cry.

This barakat is more than a takeaway snack – it’s a blessing.  – ANNAMI MAILOVICH 


Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle ***

Rohan Chand, Nisha, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle
Mowgli (Rohan Chand) and Nisha the wolf in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. (PHOTO: Netflix)

Adventure. Based on Rudyard Kipling’s celebrated short story ­collection The Jungle Book, this ­adaptation by actor and director Andy Serkis is darker and more faithful to the source material than the Disney versions.

Mowgli (Rohan Chand) is a ­human orphan raised by wolves in the jungles of India. Under the guidance of Baloo the bear (Andy Serkis) and Bagheera the panther (Christian Bale), he learns the often harsh law of the jungle. Mowgli is accepted by all but one animal and must face not only the fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch), but also his own ­human origins.

Although Mowgli was in development first, it was overshadowed by Disney’s 2016 live-action remake of the studio’s beloved 1967 animated film The Jungle Book and was ­ultimately delayed for two years.

Serkis has a distinctly different approach to the source material than Disney, but even with the delay between the films, it’s hard not to compare them, not only in terms of storytelling but also because they both use the same technology to bring animal characters to life.

Serkis, who played Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, is a pioneer of motion-capture acting and employs this technique to capture the actors’ physical performances and facial expressions to animate the CGI ­animals they portray.

The combination of live-action human actors such as Chand and Freida Pinto with mo-cap animation is impressive, and the darker, grittier feel is more in tune with Kipling’s stories than the family friendly ­Disney musical version.

But though it has an all-star cast (which also includes Cate Blanchett and Naomie Harris) who deliver great performances, the mo-cap technology misses the mark as the animals have visibly human features that make them look creepy.

It’s rather violent and sombre, ­making it unappealing for family viewing but also an unlikely choice for adults. – CAMILLA THOROGOOD


Young Rock season 1

Joseph Lee Anderson, Adrian Groulx, Young Rock
Joseph Lee Anderson (left) and Adrian Groulx in Young Rock. (PHOTO: Showmax)

Described as “The Wonder Years meets Everyone Hates Chris”, this ­sitcom tells the story of wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s formative years. 

Each of the 11 episodes alternates between his childhood growing up in Hawaii as the son of pro-wrestler Rocky Johnson (Joseph Lee Anderson), his high school years in Pennsylvania and his time at university as an American football player in Miami. 

These plots are framed by a story set in 2032 when Johnson is running for US president. This gives him the chance to parody his larger-than-life persona as well as actors-­turned-politicians – his campaign slogan is “Just hang on, I’m coming” and he’s embarked on a countrywide “no muss, no fuss” tour to show he can still identify with ordinary Americans. 

The casting is spot-on, with Adrian Groulx, Bradley Constant and Uli Latukefu completely convincing as the young Johnson in each era. It’s also delightful seeing the 10-year-old version (Groulx) interacting with ’80s pro-wrestling stars such as ­André the Giant (Matthew Willig). 

Young Rock has a 90% approval rating on reviews-aggregator site and should be popular with Johnson’s fans and those looking for a hit of ’80s and ’90s nostalgia. The age restriction is 13L.


A: All ages   D: Drugs   H: Horror   L: Language   N: Nudity   P: Prejudice   PG: Parental guidance S: Sex  V: Violence

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