Finders Keepers

2017-08-18 08:46

What it's about:

Lonnie and Brian go on the run from the Cape Town underworld, after finding a box filled with cash and a valuable wristwatch. Digging themselves even deeper, they steal a lucky fish to barter with the gangsters.

What we thought:

When the first scene includes a paralytic drunk with jokes about how he’s ‘relieving’ himself on both ends, it already paints the graphic picture for this unsuccessful attempt at a gangster comedy. English South African movies are not too common, and where normally some Afrikaans comedies take the slapstick route to an extreme, Finders Keepers went and crammed as much awful jokes as they could muster. We got the stripper with a heart of gold, the Russian gangsters that sound like they always have something stuck in their mouth, the psycho bookie and two bumbling idiots trying to get themselves out of a mess that’s their own doing. I’m all for a South African gangster comedy, perhaps in a similar vein to ones like Snatch or Revolver, but the jokes about diarrhea and vomiting as well as ill-conceived characters seem as unreal as they are unlikable.

A janitor (Dalin Oliver) for a Russian-owned strip club and a love-struck gambler (Neels van Jaarsveld) find themselves in the possession of a watch in a box lined with diamonds, which belongs to Russian gangsters. Mishaps and misunderstandings ensue, as another gang becomes involved when the leader’s son gets killed.

The first major problem with this film is the way these characters are portrayed. They range from idiot to psycho with barely anything in-between, and you end up not rooting for anyone, hoping that maybe they all die in a mass explosion with flames fanned by their idiocy. The lead is a simpleton and it almost feels like the script is going out of its way to mock his intelligence, which is more malicious than funny. Van Jaarsveld’s character is mostly a drunk jerk (not the redeeming kind) who’s in love with a stripper (Lise Slabber), who herself is barely three-dimensional by throwing a hostage kid in the mix. A CGI fish also makes an appearance as the lucky charm obsessed over by a psycho bookie, and no amount of suspension of disbelief is going to make you feel comfortable whenever that blue mutant comes on the screen.

Then out of sync with the rest of the story, we have a gangster (Stuart Taylor) whose son is killed and his whole story is this emotional arc where he wants revenge even if it means his death. The only one vaguely entertaining was the bumbling half-brother (Tyrel Meyer) of the main Russian mafia boss who keeps misunderstanding English and kills people when he’s not supposed to. Although a cliché sidekick trope, it was at least some humour that you could cling on to in this sea of awful jokes. 

Director Maynard Kraak (Vrou Soek Boer, Sonskyn Beperk) told People Magazine that the film is aimed at teenage boys and young adult men, and I have to agree in that respect that I am far out from the target audience as a late-twenties woman. In my defense I have watched many ‘male-focused’ idiot films that I loved, but in this movie don’t think the crude jokes will be enough to hide the flat story. I liked Sonskyn Beperk and Kraak is good at incorporating different and unique story ideas into his work that has a great local flavour, but unfortunately Finders Keepers just couldn’t land enough jokes to make it watchable.

If you’re the mentioned target audience, then you can prove me wrong and go support this film at the cinema, but if you’ve already passed puberty and your ‘laughing-at-poop-jokes’ phase, then save your money for more deserving South African productions. 

Read more on:    grant swanby  |  neels van jaarsveld  |  movies

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