Picks and Pans Review: The Gods Must Be Crazy Ii

updated 04/30/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/30/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

N!xau, Lena Farugia

The culture shock humor of the original Gods—in which a Bushman from southern Africa's Kalahari Desert encounters the alien ways of the so-called civilized world—made the film a cult success.

This sequel, also directed by South African Jamie Uys, is tiresome, foolish and demeaning in its reference to N!xau, the wizened Bushman who has starred in both films, as a "clever little bugger."

Uys resorts to clumsy slapstick, speeded-up footage and three instances in which the dress of leading lady Farugia is raised above her head while the camera dwells on her underwear-clad body.

Farugia, herself a New Yorker, plays an American lawyer who gets lost in the desert with a South African zoologist, Hans Strydom. Parallel plots follow N!xau's two children, who wind up in an ivory poacher's truck and are driven far from their parents, and two buffoony soldiers, a Cuban and an Angolan rebel.

Grainy stock animal footage is spliced in, Strydom has a long dreary scene in which he's attacked by what is clearly a stuffed skunk, and Uys's dialogue is insipid: "What a tiny plane!" "We have a smaller one but we can't find it."

While N!xau has a sly charm, he speaks only in Khoisan, translated in voice-over. Not everything is translated, though, and near the end, it sounds as if he may be saying, "It will a cold day in the Kalahari before I do another one of these—I don't care what my agent says." (PG)

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