About Advertise
Another Failed Race Comedy

Another Failed Race Comedy

by Roger Young / 13.05.2010

The fact that Oliver Rodger has written, directed, produced and found distribution for his first feature film, I Now Pronounce You Black & White, his first attempt at directing, is a massive feat. Unfortunately the end result is strangely similar to watching Suburban Bliss reruns on late night SABC2 in 1997. Sometimes just showing up is not enough.

The plot is almost absurdly simple, a young white Jewish boy wants to marry a young black girl, both sets of parents object and attempt to keep them apart. Comedy ensues. Except it doesn’t. The film is flatly staged, Rodger never explores the three-dimensional space of a set, it’s almost as if his actors are playing to an audience on the other side of a puppet theater. Not that the actors are blameless. Many of them, Kwesi Kobus, Bo Peterson and Ian Roberts, are experienced enough to know that no matter the production, hamming it up like that is never going to look good. As a result scenes progress with no flow, bumping up against objects and sharp stereotypical outbursts. Not that there is anything wrong with using stereotypes in comedy, it’s just that these are flat stereotypes, stereotypical stereotypes, with no surprises and ultimately no journeys to take us on.

The central message seems to be: young people are, to the exasperation of old people (who are racists), falling in love regardless of skin colour. It’s this simplicity that undermines the film. I Now Pronounce You is not an offensively bad film, it’s just a very basic film on every level, from script through performance and production to editing. It’s a film of filled with wasted opportunities. It is an attempt at a comedy of race that does nothing but reinforce stereotypes without adding anything to the oeuvre. But it does not mean that Rodgers is a bad director, merely a new director who was obviously too keen to make a film and moved too fast through the process.

Two of the minor performances underscore Rodgers over-enthusiasm. Charles Tertiens and Nik Rabinowitz both have relatively minor roles, their performances show promise. But then the characters do not develop, they continue repeating the same joke in different forms and any charm the performances might have had is eroded. These are the kinds of things a director learns to deal with through experience, and although the lack of experience (like ignorance of the law) is no excuse, one hopes that someone with the raw drive to be able to put a film together, completely independently, does not stop trying to gain that experience. The problem, of course, is that there may simply be no further way for him to gain experience after making a film so simplistic that it practically does not exist.

10   4
  1. G says:

    “It’s a film OF filled with wasted opportunities.” Just thought I’d point that out.
    Other than that, thanks for saving me from watching this. I’m always keen to check out South African comedy – a habit that often leaves me feeling as though they owe me an hour and a half of my life back. Like the tie up at the end of your writeup btw.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  2. Roger Young says:

    Thanks for the subbing note, these things do slip through sometimes.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  3. G says:

    No problem. I’d be lying if I said that I’ve never missed a copy error on an ad that’s gone to print. It does happen.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  4. Cav says:

    Ok, this is a utter crap review, did you even watch the film? To put someone down first of all for trying and not only trying but succeeding and achieving?!!! This movie is brilliant in all aspects, from the script to the acting, to the producing to the actual filming. It has and still is receiving excellent responses from so many people, why don’t you check out the fan page and see how over 2000 people feel about the film. Just because Mr Rodger (and you need to use something called spellcheck my friend) it is Mr Rodger not Rodgers, just because he had the courage to do this and did it, is superb. Good effort chum, I loved it and now I can see why all the famous actors at the premier in Jozi and Cape town went insane in the cinema, they laughed their asses off! Now to you Roger or whatever, how many films have you made? Would the chances be none? seems too that your comments are coming from somewhat of a malicious place????

    To G, go watch the film, its brilliant, don’t pay any mind to this excuse for a review.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  5. Roger Young says:


    A: It’s not a spellcheck problem, it’s a missing apostrophe. My mistake, apologies.

    B: A film critics job is not to make films to be analyze and critique them.

    C: But um, yes, I’ve worked on a few features in production, produced one (that admittedly was worse than this one), made a few TV commercials, A few TV series, some music videos, had a feature that i wrote produced, and am currently in pre-prod on my first feature. My first attempt at a feature was produced by Oliver Rodger, it fell apart for reasons that had nothing to do with him. I habour no ill will. I think it’s fantastic that he made a feature film, it’s more than I’ve done, in that you are quite correct.

    D: But the intention of this review was to point out the films shortcomings in the hope that when/if Oliver makes another film he does not repeat the mistakes that he has made in this one, that he grows as a filmmaker. If this film was as perfect as you say it is, he would have no need to ever make another but the truth is, art is a process of growth. The more important thing is that Oliver does not need to read or take my opinion on board if he does not think it is valid, that’s his choice but it would be wrong of me to lie to him or to any other filmmaker what my feelings are on any particular film. That only creates an environment where we are not able to solidify our stances as artists. If Oliver belives that he has made the right choices this review should not shake that belief, if he has any doubt or rage over this maybe he should examine that.

    E: I’m pointing this out to you because as his “chum” you can probably pass this message on. Don’t stop making films. Keep growing as an artist. Fight for what you believe in. Don’t let the bastards drag you down.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  6. Anonymous says:

    Cav sounds like she might be Oliver Rodger’s mother

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  7. Moo says:

    Eish just watched the trailer..
    People you’ve been warned, this is painful mommies boy comedy, horribly self-conscious and utterly devoid of wit.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  8. Wilco Drew says:

    Moo, A bit harsh to make your mind up after only seeing the trailer, and then to offer it up as advice to theatre goers. I fell into the movie last week, and really enjoyed it – fun, light romcom stuff and such a joy to have the background our own country and not LA or Notting Hill for a change!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  9. Anonymous says:

    There are too many opposing thoughts here, I’m off to see the damn thing already.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  10. Judeye says:

    I finally walked out of a movie. This is the worst movie ever made. Njannies. DO NOT GO!!! SAVE YOUR DOUGH!!!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  11. Jen4 says:


    This looks like the biggest load of shit I’ve ever seen in my life! Hahahaah! Fuck South Africa!!!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  12. Jewboy says:

    Ugh how can ANYONE even be “proudly south african”
    This movie isnt so good… I’m an actor and these nuts can’t act!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  13. Clea says:

    From the trailer it does look like they made the parent’s unnecessarily racist – as in unrealistically openly racist – just for comedy value – but it would have been funnier (i think) if they (the future in laws) TRIED to get along but kept accidentally being racist with comedic results etc. funny and a truer reflection of SA. and then the couple could have had a serious crisis of faith in each other and getting through it – and what about THEIR own culture clashes or are they just perfect to each other in the film…but yes – i havent seen it OK OK and – well done for getting something made – it’s more than I have done yet!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  14. a black guy says:

    the movie is great guys. well done to the director. to the people who r trying to pull the director down to their level – please get a life

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  15. Linzay says:

    I quiet enjoyed the movie made me proud to be south african. Our peepz are very talented it takes a lot of gutts to step out into the world criticism and I think you should be encouraged keep up the good work don’t give up. Its a great movie!!!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  16. a german nice guy says:

    me and my wife had the chance to see that movie in the airplain, when we returnd form our honeymoon in ZA. in the first part of the movie i could’nt believe, that this is really comedy. but later on we were loughing quite a lot.
    in my opinion ZA needs more stuff like this. it is one possible way to leave behind the fatal past of this great country. i like ZA very much, since i had an internship for nearly one year in pretoria and enjoy to return for holidays, every few years, when it’s possible. actually i hope Southafrican movies will be succesfull all over the world in the years to come. and i’m looking forward to see more of that

    by the way: film critics generally depends very much on personals taste. sadly Roger Young did’nt like the movie. but he quite accurate said: art is a process of growth. this is very true for film-making and film critics. so i would like to encourage both to carry on. makers and critics.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  17. Anonymous says:

    i just watched the movie today, and it is funny. I surely enjoyed it, because I could identify with so much of what was going on in te movie. I guess if you live in denial that would be hard to do. We as South Africans should learn to get along better, and to take a step back and see how ridiculous racism and all other forms of discrimination are. For once, I enjoyed a film made in South Africa that is not some “Shucks Shabalala” nonsense, with bad taste and even worse language. Inter-ratial marriages are a fact even here in SA, and the kinds of problems that are depicted in the film really does happen, although not so over amplified than in the movie.
    I had a good laugh, and in the end romance won, and I’m glad it could be seen in a SA context rather than some ideallistic first world situation.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  18. Lots says:

    It was beyond terrible, I’m so tired of the South African tv and film industry trying in vain to copy, British, American or even Australian films and finishing below last place. And what was up with the ‘Brit’ whose never been to SA with a thick South African accent, for fucks sake enough now, there HAS to be someone with talent around.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  19. tolu says:

    I only got to watch it a year later on dstv. I thought it was brilliant. Watched it twice in one night. Pls keep making movies. You can only get better from here

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  20. Lawrence says:

    well done guys – brilliant for what it is – all you so called movie boffs – you should have the balls to do what these guys did – lekka movie

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  21. Booysen says:

    I truly enjoyed the movie. It is hilarious and brilliant acting.
    I do not even take offense because I think it is time we all look past the race border and see the funny and humor in it.

    You that has so many negative things about this movie: get a life. We often don’t like brittish comedies or other english comedies but we don’t critisize them for everthing. And no-one are forcing you to watch this movie, watch something else that might interest you. Pointless not enjoying a movie and still watching it. You can’t also critisize this movie based on the trailer – that seems quite stupid. Get a life – a few of us enjoyed the movie. Maybe it is because you are still living with the racist mentality that is why you critisize.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  22. Boikanyo says:

    Hahahahahahahahahah this movie was funny, laughed my ass out till the ending, nd the controversial in it is so true, if u live in South Africa u wud get this movie nd all u wud do after watching it is just laugh… It was my first comedy movie of South Africa that I have ever enjoyed ….just go watch the movie and enjoy!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0