Leon Schuster is to South Africa what Crocodile Dundee is to Australia – a national treasure – although in Schuster’s case I wish it were a buried treasure, he’d make good company for all the old gags that he keeps digging up and shoehorning into his films.
The story follows mortal enemies Boetie and Beast who after landing themselves in jail from an altercation are given the option of racing to Gauteng with the proviso being that they cross the finish line as friends. The offer comes from the seductive Kelsey who wants to candidly capture their adventure as a live broadcast reality TV show with the contestants being none the wiser. This of course is done with the blessings of Minister Mda who condones the show’s spirit of racial diversity. The race however often proves too troublesome for Boetie and Beast who harbour a huge resentment towards one another.
Forget plot, forget pacing, forget the basic tenets of filmmaking, the only thing defining this as a movie is the fact that it was caught on camera. Mad Buddies is a chaotic mix of tired old slapstick lifted from 20+ years of Schuster antics – they weren’t funny then and they still aren’t. The gags in the film mostly gravitate around anal evacuations, in fact it seems like a more obvious theme than the cockamamie political undercurrents surrounding the racial divide.
When the foes aren’t flinging feces at one another, we cut to Alfred Ntmobela’s character who only serves to indulge the audience in masochistic endeavours, and even in that the spectacle it’s feeble at best…we’re just cutting from used toilet paper to the toilet in this case, there’s no break from the incessant excrement assault.
Harking on about how this film is just cobbled together archive footage is tiresome to be honest, when I heard Disney was involved in Mad Buddies, I thought that some creative input would sway the film to the “barely watchable” category but it hasn’t aided it whatsoever. Schuster and Hofmeyr are like two spoilt little boys who always get what they want because they make money, in actual fact all they’re doing is stealing directly from the pockets of the uninformed because they’re riding on their reputation as a team (similar to the Depp/Burton dynamic).
One of the many scenes that use human waste as focal point.
Most irritating of all is how the message completely misses the mark, this film is supposed to resolve itself with unity but in the end it’s a commentary on the greed of humanity and how enemies will only join hands when it’s for personal gain. For one, they only take part in the race so that the winner gets to bang Phoenix’s character, then they fake friendship to receive a cash bonus, and by the end, where it seemed obvious that the script would lead to harmony and forgiveness between the characters, it loses the plot and makes a mockery of its objective.
By now I wouldn’t be surprised if I were to get a bunch of hate mail about how unpatriotic I am and how I don’t understand South African humour – save your words and time, I love my country but I don’t like deplorable wastes of celluloid and if you don’t think I understand comedy than that’s only because this isn’t funny on any level, not slapstick, not potty, it’s just a Leon Schuster showreel highlighting his lack of creativity in a genre that is legendary in stature and molded in the golden age of cinema.
In my heart I want to believe that nobody would like this, but the legions of Schuster devotees will walk away with a giggle or two at the crass display of idiocy. For everyone with reasonable taste, there’s about a dozen other shitty movies to pick from that are still better than this. Mad Buddies is going to crack the box office, not because it’s good but because it has Schuster.
The Bottom Line
Mad Buddies is exactly what you’d expect from the mind of Leon Schuster, for some that is a good thing, but for the people that have grown weary of his worn out tricks, it doesn’t even tickle the funny bone nevermind break it. I’d love to say that Mad Buddies had potential, the concept maybe in more creative hands might have stood a chance but in this instance, it is about as repugnant as it could have ever been. The film touts a strong message of racial acceptance and tolerance at the finish line but if anything, it has divided us even further. Comedy may be the one true language that transcends the racial barrier but this is a bad joke, and like the equally bad penny, Schuster rehashes are just going to keep turning up.
Mr. Schuster, I want a refund of the life I threw away while watching your movie.