Every South African knows of the legend that is Leon Schuster. He is our original prankster, made famous by his uniquely South African candid camera work. Although he may have departed from his original film tactics in recent productions such as Mr. Bones and Mama Jack, Schuks Tshabalala’s Survival Guide to South Africa sees Schuster return to his comedic roots.
Schuks Tshabalala’s Survival Guide to South Africa is pure Schuster. If you have enjoyed any of his previous candid camera focused movies, you will no doubt enjoy his latest foray into slapstick South African comedy.
The film attempts to weave each candid camera scenario into a larger background story, in this case a Mr Schuks Tshabalala offers a tour of South Africa to a group of poorly acted ‘foreigners’. However, all these slapstick interludes serve to do is annoyingly retract from the real comedic elements. Even though some of the lyrics to a few of the Highschool Musical inspired interludes were brilliantly tongue-in-cheek, they felt somewhat disconnected from the story as a whole. I would equate it to like watching a reality show on MTV which is split by music videos.
Although there were quite a few gems in terms of the candid camera work, the Helen Zille and Seapoint squatter camp scenario’s being among them, Schuster has not attempted to push the proverbial envelope in any way. Instead, each candid camera scenario is simply a rehash of something we have seen from him before: Golf Club scene? Check. Fooling rookie cops? Check. Scaring taxi drivers and occupants? Check, and so on and so forth. This is by no means a bad thing, after all, as the adage goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Even so, it feels like a missed opportunity for Schuster to push the boundaries in the same way he did in the 80s with You Must Be Joking.
Nevertheless, if you enjoy South African slapstick humour then Schuks Tshabalala’s Survival Guide to South Africa is not to be missed.
The film opens nation wide on Friday the 28th of May 2010.
As is always the case with any Sterkinekor event, there were many delicious snacks and ample refreshments for all red carpet guests as well as numerous paparazzi. I have got to give it to Sterkinekor , they always make you feel like a star when visiting their ‘happy place’ during premiere events.
Until the next time “Milieunairs”!