It also depends heavily on whether you find the lead characters amusing and charming, or just boorish and anachronistic. In truth they are all of these things, which may account, perversely enough, for their success. Watching these caricatures of a narrow, small-town, old-South-African mindset, you start to wonder “Do these guys really exist anymore?” But that is the whole secret. Tjokkie and Crispin have attained a measure of that rarefied status – the universal idiots.
Like a local Laurel and Hardy, these two are idiots to everyone. To people around the country they represent the dumb jerks from the rival town, the country hicks fouling up the city, the opposing sports team from the neighbouring district. Viewed from this perspective, everyone is comfortable with laughing at these hapless fools, and everyone is equally ready to sympathise with their self-inflicted plight.
However universal their characters may be, the comedy they peddle is as creaky and predictable as an ancient cast iron appliance. Even by the standards of Heel Against the Head, Running Riot is tame fare. Yes, there are sprinkles of mischievous brilliance and some amusing interludes (the training sequences are particularly fun), but there’s nothing particularly new or exciting here. They also tend to stretch the original plot a little too thin for the movie, and the action often circles back on itself to make up time.
Viewed in context, there’s nothing essentially wrong with Running Riot, it gets the job done. The filmmaking is proficient enough to keep the story ticking over, never showy but also never very inspiring. The story is peopled by caricatures and types, and none of the supporting cast have trouble living up to this limited scope, despite the heavy Russian accents some of them are forced to affect.
The only person who appears out of place is a rather woebegone Bruce Fordyce, who spends the film in a state of permanent puzzlement. As for Flynn and Slabolepszy, they wear their characters like comfortable old suits, which gives them palpability that the rest of the cast lack.
In short it’s another mischievous crowd-pleaser from a pair of seasoned war-horses. Say what you might about them, Flynn and Slabolepszy know what their fans want, and they’re going to give it to them in shovel loads. Everyone else had better stand well clear.
- Alistair Fairweather
Running Riot delivers exactly what it promises - a boisterous mix of sport, slapstick and bedroom farce. Don't say we didn't warn you.
The film is so to say the ultimate package with a good director, good leading actor, and an all-star cast. Read More »
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If ever there was a reason why no government should ever have the death penalty, Shepherds and Butchers is why – a masterpiece of raw emotional trauma. Read More »
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