Making the Grades
"Never talk to strangers", is advice Dr. Ann Taylor (Lena Farugia) should have heeded. While attending a business conference in Africa, the corporate law Ph.D. from New York accepts an offer from an obvious womanizer to catch a glimpse of the country's wildlife by tagging along with him as he flies an errand for his employer. But the promised half-hour aerial safari turns into something much longer and more hands-on after unforeseen circumstances result in a change of pilots, and a crash landing deep in the Kalahari dessert.
Fortunately her new companion, Dr. Stephen Marshall (Hans Strydom), is a zoologist with plenty of survival skills. Unfortunately, he hasn't much sympathy for the citified woman's ignorance or fear of her new natural surroundings. Despite their differences, the two attempt to formulate a course of action that will get their wounded plane airborne again. However, things never go exactly as planned....
Meanwhile a few sand dunes over, a couple of curious Bushman children (played by Nadies and Eiros) discover a large and unfamiliar object. They have no sooner crawled up its large and shiny exterior than the beast roars to life. Clinging to each other and the top of the moving vehicle, the youngsters watch helplessly as they are carried away from all they know.
Not long afterward, their father Xixo (N!xau) finds their tracks. Although a native to the Kalahari, this particular Bushman recognizes the tire marks because he has had dealing with the "Heavy People" before. (These escapades are detailed in The Gods Must be Crazy.) So the anxious parent sets off to find his family.
Following a formula similar to its prequel, the paths of these groups converge, as well as get tangled up with some other desert wanderers, like some nasty hunters and a couple of military men from opposing armies. Once again, writer/director Jamie Uys carefully balances fish-out-of-water comedy and hilarious antics with reminders of the Big Continent's battle against poaching and its constant presence of war. He also interjects his personal bias for the simple life and cynicism for civilized man, while proving untamed animals are the least of the misadventures to be encountered in his homeland.
Consequentially, the film does contain moments of peril: some at the hands of nature and others from bad guys who threaten with both fire and firearms. Although a gunshot injury is portrayed (blood is briefly seen), young viewers are more likely to be disturbed by a near-accident that occurs when the indigenous children don't recognize the potential danger of a rifle.
Other concerns include the use of mild to moderate profanities and some flashes of skin. The topless nudity and bare buttocks of the tribal people may be their authentic costume, but not all parents will find the intended humor in the habit Dr. Taylor's pink dress has of flipping up over her head and revealing her underwear.
Most critics agree that the first film was the better of the two. Although I concur it's hard to top the slapstick that made the original an unexpected smash hit, I think I give this one the upper hand. Not just because this second effort has a bigger budget and therefore improved production qualities, but also because it offers positive relationship messages within its storylines. As they make sacrifices to ensure each other's safety, a natural and believable romance develops between Drs. Taylor and Marshall. Being forced to work together makes it harder for the two enemy soldiers to hate one another. And it is touching how far the Bushman family will go to be reunited.
Add to that Jamie Uys' imaginative 101 things you should never try with an airplane, tips for attracting a male ostrich, as well as how to get rid of a dangerous (albeit very tiny) badger-like creature, and you'll be convinced it's not just the Gods who must be crazy.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Gods Must Be Crazy 2.
When the two children find themselves alone, the older sister tries hard to comfort and care for her little brother. What can you learn from this example of sibling relationships?
How does the bulling relationship between the two poachers relate to negative peer pressure?
The phenomenal success of The Gods Must Be Crazy brought the Bushman N!xau out of obscurity and into the civilized world. While the money enabled him and his family to enjoy a real house with plumbing and electricity, it also introduced the actor to alcohol and tobacco. (See N!xaus obituary for more details). How do you feel about the benefits and vices of modern society?