By BRUCE DENNILL
Meet The Blacks / Directed by Deon Taylor / 16LPV
Just Getting Started / Directed by Ron Shelton / 13LS
Hoener Met Die Rooi Skoene / Directed by Koos Roets / PGL
Sausage Party / Directed by Conrad Vernon & Greg Tiernan / 16LS
Meet The Blacks has, as its extremely dubious raison d’être a goal of parodying the Purge films, which were built around a concept of there being a limited period in which no crime will be punished, leading to looting, murder and untold brutality. That expectation going in allows the filmmakers here to explain away the excessive violence in this piece, and the film’s family of protagonists being black (in name and race) opens the door to exploring an additional theme of prejudice. But if anything attractive had survive those premises, everything is undone by the terrible quality of the filmmaking in general. The script is poor, the humour is non-existent (it’s a spoof, for crying out loud) and the whole thing is just thoroughly crass, without a redeeming feature.
The cast of Just Getting Started are reason enough to pick out the DVD from the shelf. Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones and Rene Russo stand shoulder to shoulder on the cover, and Glenne Headly and Joe Pantoliano are among the supporting cast. And yet, for its entire running time, nothing works. The script makes no sense, highlighting trivial aspects of the very weak plot for no discernible reason and giving the impression that what remains is perhaps all the vaguely usable takes from a wasted shoot cobbled together. The involvement of the three leads is baffling. Sure, director Ron Shelton made Bull Durham and Tin Cup, but a superficial scan of this screenplay must have rung some warning bells? They wasted their time; don’t waste yours.
The set-up for Hoener Met Die Rooi Skoene looks promising – talented, likeable stars in Lizz Meiring and Louw Venter, among others, and a story that looks to play out like an Agatha Christie murder mystery. But the script has more holes than pages, and try as you might to infer some momentum to proceedings, you are permanently frustrated as frustrating diversions repeatedly creep in, confusing matters and draining the tale of any of the humour its opening scenes suggested it would offer. A missed opportunity.
Sausage Party is an animated film for adults with a darkly funny concept – what would happen if food was sentient and aware of exactly what would happen to it once it left the supermarket, with only untold pain and death to look forward to? There is a huge amount of talent involved, too, with voice work by Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Michael Cera, Paul Rudd, Edward Norton and Salma Hayek, among many others. However, while it is clearly created for and aimed at adult viewers, the piece is unstintingly vulgar and inane, and what earthy giggles there are to begin with soon start to fade. It’s the film equivalent of an unsophisticated by pleasant enough dinner companion becoming unbearably tactless as he has more to drink over the course of an evening.